Memories of some sad times, adversity, friendships and happy moments were rekindled on Saturday 8 September 2012. Veterans from Norway arrived with serving senior military officers and civic leaders at the civic offices of Epping Forest District Council at the start of a busy day.
Councillor Brian Rolfe, Chairman of Council welcomed his opposite number Mayor Ole Hjartoy of the Norwegian city of Bodo at the steps of the Civic Offices. Speeches and presentations reaffirmed the ties of friendship between two communities forged in war.
Epping brought back memories for several of the veterans who escaped their own country to England in the dark days of World War II, Their struggle continued under the banner of the Royal Air Force in their small Hawker Hurricanes from North Weald.
Veterans recalled many happy hours spent in the Thatched House, Epping to which they would cycle, although they searched in vain for the Carpenters Arms which has since made way for modern development.
After years of closure, Epping Ongar Railway looked spectacular in bright sunshine as the Veterans and guests continued their trip down Memory Lane. A ride on the train from North Weald Station to Ongar included a short break with high demand for ice-cream and cool drinks as temperatures hit the high twenties. North Weald Station was a familiar stepping off point 70 years ago. Veterans smiled as they recalled trips to London for some R and R.
Veterans, civic leaders and top-brass continued to enjoy the hospitality of the welcoming residents of North Weald. At North Weald Airfield younger group of volunteers who arrived in the Norwegian Royal Air Force Hercules on Friday were hard at work, putting the final touches to the refurbishment of an historic revetment. These fortified aircraft bunkers protected Hurricanes, Blenheims and Spitfires from aerial attack by the Luftwaffe.
The particular revetment was used by 331 (N) Squadron. A dedication and the unveiling of a memorial stone brought from Norway took place at sunset with a guard of honour provided by the ATC as well as standard bearers from Norway and the Royal British Legion. Arthur Moreton of North Weald who was instrumental in organising the events of the weekend spoke movingly in response to a fine speech Cato Gunhfeldt on behalf of the volunteers.
The Squadron bar was renamed ‘The Norwegian Wing’ in honour of the guests. The evening ended with a surprise presentation to Alan Crouchman of The Squadron and Epping Forest District Council’s Airfield Operations Manager Darren Goodey, in recognition of the special efforts made by them and their teams in support of the Norwegian visit.
A plaque attached to the revetment memorial stone reads
“This Stone, brought from Norway and erected on September 8th 2012 commemorates the 70th anniversary of 331 (N) and 332 (N) Squadrons commencing operations from RAF North Weald in May and June 1942.
The two squadrons became known as The Norwegian Wing, operating from North Weald until the end of March 1944.
The revetment was used by 331 (N) Squadron’s A-Flight”