D-Day event in Grantham on Saturday will be a ‘day of firsts’

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America’s Air Attache will be in Grantham on Saturday as the town pays tribute to the role American forces played in the Second World War.

Colonel Travis Willis of the United States Air Force will be speaking at a special talk in Grantham Museum on the D-Day role of local airfields and then step back in time to a nostalgia event on St Peter’s Hill.

American tribute trumpeter and singer Ricky Hunter

American tribute trumpeter and singer Ricky Hunter

It will be a day of firsts; the opening of Grantham Museum’s D-Day exhibition, the first copies handed out of the new Heritage of Flight commemorative brochure from event organisers South Kesteven District Council and the launch of a brand new ‘Miss Red’ cask beer from Oldershaws Brewery named after a famous Dakota aircraft.

St Peter’s Hill attractions include Grantham College students manning a replica Second World War field kitchen serving free food.

On the menu will be ‘Dig for Victory’ stew, corned beef fritters and cakes such as ginger parkin, typifying the fare of 1944 as SKDC pays its own tribute to the local achievements of allied airborne forces.

Vera Lynn tribute singer Miss Sarah Jane will double up with American tribute trumpeter and singer Ricky Hunter, both harking back to the time music played a key role in raising the spirits of Britain.

Vera Lynn tribute singer Miss Sarah Jane

Vera Lynn tribute singer Miss Sarah Jane

Grantham father and son Terry and Mark Musson will display their collection of memorabilia amassed as part of the Barkston Heath Research Group unearthing hitherto lost detail of the American presence at the airfield.

Highlight of the day will be a flyover at 2.30pm of the legendary Spitfire and the Dakota C-47 from the Battle of Britain Flight.

Colonel Willis said: “I am honoured to come to Grantham to help commemorate my countrymen’s contribution to the allied airborne efforts of WWll.

“American airmen and officers played a huge role in the key aviation milestones of 1944, flying from airfields in the district, and I am very much looking forward to meeting local people and hearing and seeing more of exactly what happened.”

For SKDC, Paul Stokes, Head of Community Assets, said: “It’s going to be a great day, an informative and probably quite humbling day when we will learn so much more about the role of Grantham and its surrounding airfields in airborne offensive that changed the course of history.”

To conclude the day, the Guildhall Arts Centre has a special showing of the 1962 film epic ‘The Longest Day’, the star-studded story of the D-Day invasion of Normandy with John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, Richard Burton and Grantham’s much-loved Richard Todd.

Day’s Agenda:

* St Peter’s Hill D-Day Commemoration: 10am - 4pm

* Grantham Museum Opening 10am - 4pm

* D-Day Airfields of South Lincolnshire 10.30 am (£2 - tickets from Grantham Museum)

* Dakota and Spitfire Flypast 2.30pm

* The Longest Day 4pm