A FORMER RAF flight sergeant who risked his life during the Second World War said the grand opening of a museum honouring the efforts of airmen will be the realisation of a ‘long cherished dream’.
This weekend will be a very special one for Badsey resident Mike Barnard as following months of planning and restoration work, the secret wartime airbase at Croome Court will be formally opened as a museum tomorrow (Saturday).
The airfield’s Decontamination Annexe has stood derelict for decades but is just hours away from being brought back to life in a special project undertaken by the Defford Airfield Heritage Group and the National Trust costing in the region of £135,000.
The museum will record and commemorate the achievements of servicemen at RAF Defford which during the Second World War and into the Cold War was one of the most secret places in the country.
It will also tell visitors the whole story of RAF Defford and the airfield which was the home of where the ideas and inventions of radar scientists from the research establishment in Malvern were developed which helped the country to a famous victory.
Mr Barnard, who was part of RAF Defford’s Air Training Corp in his teenage years, told the Observer the occasion on Saturday will prove to be very emotional.
“Saturday is going to be more than special for me, this restoration has been something of a long cherished dream,” the 86-year-old said.
“The opening event will bring back so many treasured memories at RAF Defford. This is such a special and unique project and I can’t thank the National Trust and the Defford Airfield Heritage Group enough – they have done such terrific work.”
The event will also be very special for Mr Barnard as it will recall many of the friendships he made with colleagues at RAF Defford.
One of the memories he recalls so vividly is his friendship with Doreen Boller who was the secretary to the chief medical officer.
“During 1943 and 1947 I made frequent visits to the sick quarters as an ATC Cadet and met many of the staff,” he added.
“During this time I may have met Doreen but it wasn’t until 60 years later that I met Doreen’s sister Pam who completely out-of-the-blue told me her sister was at RAF Defford.
“Most of the people were of similar age to me and we all got on so well – it was like we were a family as we bonded so well as
Saturday’s formal opening is an invitational event but the museum will open to the public for the first time on Sunday (September 28) from 10.30am – normal National Trust admission procedures apply.