New beer launched to raise funds for RAF North Creake memorial
PUBLISHED: 10:03 08 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:46 09 February 2018
A charity beer to raise funds for a memorial to celebrate those who served and commemorate those who were lost at RAF North Creake whilst serving with Bomber Command in the Second World War is set to be launched at Norwich Beer Festival.
While some drink to forget, the driving force behind a Norfolk memorial to celebrate those who served and commemorate those who were lost at RAF North Creake are hoping that a new beer ‘Drink to Remember’ will boost the coffers of their fighting fund.
A 15p donation from each pint of the charity beer brewed by Beeston Brewery, which will be officially launched at The Winter Great British Beer Festival in Norwich on February 20, will go towards the Time to Remember campaign spearheaded by Nigel Morter and Claire Nugent who own the Control Tower Bed and Breakfast in Egmere near Walsingham.
The pair are organising a series of fundraising events to raise £30,000 for a sculpture by artist Andy Knighton of a Stirling Bomber, once a regular sight in the skies above RAF North Creake – it will be in line with an original runway, accessible to the public on land from the Walsingham Estate on the old airfield site and will include a roll of honour for the 69 servicemen from Bomber Command who died in action.
“We have had the aim of erecting a memorial ever since we bought the tower in 2011,” said Nigel, who with Claire has converted the airfield’s control tower into an Art Deco bed and breakfast business with history at its heart, “as a result of the secret nature of the operations undertaken from this airfield, the story of North Creake has mostly been lost, having made such a critical contribution, we feel it is time it was remembered.
“We would like to complete the memorial by August 2020, the 75th Anniversary of the disbandment of RAF North Creake and while there is still living memory of the airfield.”
Drink to Remember, a hoppy amber bitter with lightly toasted malts made by master brewer Mark Riches from Beeston Brewery with help from real ale fans Nigel and Claire, will be available in selected pubs in North Norfolk and in bottles from April 2018. It will be available for the duration of the Time to Remember campaign.
Claire said that she and Nigel were passionate about both the Control Tower and its history, but also local produce: “We enjoy directing guests to local suppliers for all kinds of delicious Norfolk produce and are lucky enough to have The Real Ale shop as our local and nearest shop which is where we first found Stirling Beer by Beeston Brewery
“The image on their bottles of Stirling is from a mural originally from a building almost next door to the tower but which now is preserved at RAF Hendon. That is why Beeston were the obvious choice to collaborate with on this memorial beer. I’m pleased to report that it’s absolutely delicious!”
Pubs which will stock the beer, including several where RAF servicemen used to enjoy a pint, include the Binham Chequers, The Black Lion in Walsingham, The Carpenters Arms in Wighton, The Lifeboat Inn at Wells-next-the-Sea and The Three Horseshoes in Warham. Mail order bottles will be available from April from www.therealaleshop.co.uk.
The memorial site is being designed by architect David Exeter who is donating his work due to his love for the Control Tower and to honour his father, who was ground crew in the RAF from 1939 to 1945 while sculptor Andy Knighton has previously been involved in created a Lancaster plane at RAF East Kirkby.
In a project supported by Holkham and Walsingham Estates, the pledged funds already stand at in excess of £11,000 and are being held by Walsingham Parish Council.
RAF North Creake was operational from June 1944 until May 1945 but during this time it played a critical role in supporting Bomber Command. More than 3,000 RAF staff were stationed at the Egmere-based airfield which flew its first operation in support of the D-Day landings on the night of the June 5.
Nigel and Claire plan a raft of other fundraising efforts to raise the cash for the memorial including Dance to Remember and Cycle to Remember. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01328 821574.
Modelled on a Short Stirling aircraft which was based at RAF North Creake between May 1944 and March 1945, the sculpture plane will be mounted to appear as if it is in flight and banked with wings at an angle to the ground – the lowest point of the wing tip will be around four metres from the ground. The nose of the plane will face the B1105 but the fuselage will be parallel with runway one of the Second World War airfield. The memorial will include a timeline where visitors can discover the squadrons and aircraft used at North Creake, the operational activities and a map of the airfield and a roll of honour of those lost while on active service.
RAF North Creake
RAF North Creake is actually at Egmere, which is on the side of the main road from Fakenham to Wells. It was given the name North Creake as this could be heard more clearly over radio.
In an isolated farmland setting, fringed by the Holkham Estate, RAF North Creake was opened in 1941 as a decoy site by the air force, and then used as a heavy bomber base, complete with three intersecting runways, a control tower, technical and administration sites and quarters. In due course, 100 Group of RAF Bomber Command used the station to carry out counter-measures to disrupt the Nazis’ electronic and radio communications. On June 16 1944, the air base suffered its first loss, aircraft N was missing and never found and all crew were lost. In total, seventeen aircraft were lost during operations out of RAF North Creake.