In 2015 it will be 70 years since the end of World War II and exactly 20 years since the memorial at Raydon was dedicated to the memory of the of the 353rd Fighter Group and to their comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II. In the years since the war the village of Raydon has often welcomed returning veterans. Wartime events, both good and bad were remembered and firm, lasting friendships were made. Our last official visit from the 353rd was in 1999 and now, sadly but inevitably, most of the veterans have left us. Their memory is still fondly held and we therefore warmly invite families of veterans to join with us in a very special event to give the men of the 353rd a “Last Hurrah” in 2015.
Friday Aug 21
AM Reception in Colchester Town Hall
PM Free time in the historic town of Colchester
PM Welcome dinner with speaker Dr. Graham Cross “The History of the 353rd FG in WWII”
Saturday Aug 22
AM Service to Rededicate the Raydon Memorial
PM “Air Gathering” at Raydon Airfield with historic aircraft, vehicles and displays
Sunday Aug 23
AM/PM Visit to Raydon Church (TBC) and guests of Raydon Village
PM Optional visit to Metfield Airfield (the home of the 353rd until April 1944)
Monday Aug 24
AM Visit to the Cambridge American Military Cemetery at Madingley
PM Optional visit to either Imperial War Museum Duxford or Cambridge
PM Farewell Dinner at Colchester for families and local people.
The tour party will be based in a hotel in central Colchester – further details will be supplied to those interested in attending. You are, of course, free to attend as much or as little as you chose and make your own plans at any time.
Reunion coordinator for the weekend will be Graham Cross who acted in that capacity for the Group in their 1990, 92, 95 and 99 UK Reunions. Many highly experienced people are involved here in the UK to make the weekend a success.
Some families of veterans have already expressed an interest in attending so can I ask now that anyone that wants to come please let me know via my email slybird353 with @hotmail.co.uk added to it
Can I also stress that at this stage this is a private event for the families of veterans and that the reunion tour is organised for them to join with local people to remember their loved ones service. Further details of any public events during the weekend will be released at a later date.
This really is the “Last Hurrah” for the 353rd Fighter Group – living memory of those wartime years is rapidly passing from the scene. This is a chance to say a final thank you to all those who served and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Raydon next August.