~Story sent by Tony King
Our group, The North Oxon & Cotswolds Area Military Vehicle Trust, was formed in 2007 to cover the area of the UK which is roughly the centre of the country. Our aims were and are to further the knowledge of military vehicles and also to highlight the sacrifices made by the Allies during all military conflicts. We have a good cross section of vehicles ranging from pedal cycles, motor cycles, Jeeps (Willys and Ford) and many others including some modern and soviet bloc vehicles. Our area meets on a monthly basis at the last steam powered brewery in England, one of the best and unique venues in the military vehicle movement. Having said that the majority of us are tea total! My sons David and Richard were some of our founding members, both having a great interest in military vehicles from an early age and assisted in restorations. Sadly David passed away as a result of cancer in 2008, he was 31. In his memory the area has the annual road run. We also present an award to the members that have done the most for the club during the year.
Our week end of August 15th-17th began with our Friday evening dinner at the great “Greedy Goose” restaurant. We had a world war 2 veteran bomber pilot, Bill Holmes DFC as our guest of honour. He is 93 years young and was also one of the first to have plastic surgery following a crash returning from a bombing mission. He is a member of what became known as the guinea pig club. The result that the surgery given was so new and experimental. The famous Dr. Mcindoe was the pioneer surgeon.
This year our run took us from our camp site between Chipping Norton and Moreton in Marsh. This is the true Cotswolds with undulating hills and picture post card villages that have changed little since the 15th century. We had a total of over 30 vehicles. We aim to stop at sites of military interest and explain the history. My brother Bill is our resident historian and through his extensive knowledge he gives fantastic presentations.
Our first stop was at the former WW2 airfield of Welles Bourne, the RAF name was Wellesbourne Mountford. This base was used as a training airfield as well as a station for Wellington bombers that went on operations over occupied Europe. Today it is the home of one of the last surviving Avro Vulcan’s. The jet bomber that was developed and used throughout the cold war. One of its type took part in the longest bomber missions in history when it left the UK to bomb the runway in Port Stanley Falkland Islands during the Falklands conflict.
From there we drove the wonderful country mansion of Compton Verney. This was used by the Allies in WW2 as the training school for camouflage. It was also where the famous Haslar smoke generator was developed. This was used to great effect during the beach landings to give a smoke screen. The site was also used by the marines for training in mines, the lakes were used for practice.
We drove from there towards our lunch stop. The route took us past the site of the first battle of the English civil war in 1642. We stopped for a short presentation on this event and the subsequent consequences. Our lunch stop was at an old English Inn high in the Cotswold ridge, The Castle Inn at Edge Hill. The Inn overlooks the area of the battlefield and gives a good idea of the advantages of having the high ground. After lunch of soup and sandwiches we made our way to another WW2 airfield. This is known locally as Shennington but during the war was known as RAF Edge Hill. It is now in a very poor state but many small businesses use some of the old buildings. The old control tower is quite unique and still all there but in poor condition. The good news is that the farmer who owns the site is hoping to restore it and live in it with his family. This airfield was again used for training but also many operations against enemy targets in occupied Europe. It was also a very important airfield in the development of the Jet engine. Under great secrecy Frank WHITTLE (later Sir) used the airfield together with another in the area, Barford St. John for test flights of the worlds first Jet. There are memorials at both locations. From there we took a gentle run through the byways of the country lanes back to the camp site for the evening BBQ. Here our hosts at the farm were the Newman family. The family has been associated with military vehicles and are members of our area. They have a Dodge command car which their late father used. He was a veteran of the Burma campaign and sadly missed by all who knew him.
The Newman brothers Paul and Steve were the recipients of the David King Memorial Trophy. A wonderful day came to an end with the usual BBQ of burgers, sausages, chips, onion and various goodies. Followed by trifles and a toast to our hosts. On the Sunday we had an off road day. A gentle course just across the road from the camp site. A lot of fun and smiles from everyone. A ‘photo gallery can be found at our web site.
If you would like to share your Willys Jeep Story please send us a line. We ‘d love to meet your Jeep.
Like Us. Facebook