Norwegian weekend

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It was my privilege as Chairman of Epping Forest District Council to meet some highly distinguished people over the weekend of the 7 to 9 September. The spirit of friendship between the people of North Weald and Norway continues to shine.
Norwegian Wings over North weald fun day and fly in

The bond is enormously strong. The surviving Norwegian veterans are now old men but the love they feel for our country lives on in their children and grandchildren. 70 years ago they were a band of brothers from a small country held in tyranny. They found refuge at North Weald and kindred spirits in the people of our small Island also fighting for our lives.

I began for the first time to understand something of the importance North Weald holds in the hearts of the people of Norway. I was reminded of the famous poem, ‘The Soldier’ by Rupert Brooke who lost his life in the Great War that was supposed to end all wars.

Chairman Brian Rolfe ready for take off.If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

To our friends from Norway, North Weald is also the corner of a ‘foreign field’, a symbol of their national pride and character in adversity. I was immensely proud to have shared some of that spirit with them and to call them friends.

Councillor Brian Rolfe
Chairman of Epping Forest District Council

Associated stories

A story published by the Telegraph about a veterans final visit to North Weald – Spitfire pilot, 91, makes one final mission

Norwegian weekend – festival of the air

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The Royal Norwegian Air Force provided spectacular planes to wow the huge crowds at North Weald on Sunday 9 September, but there was plenty more on show. Warbirds of WWII were prominent with contributions made from collections based at North Weald, further afield and the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Spitfires, Vampires, Gnats (as used by the Red Arrows), a T-33, a Hawker Sea Fury, Westland Sea King and many other aircraft passed through or were put through their paces to the delight of spectators.

Jet Provosts and a Hawker Hunter formed part of static ground displays of fixed-wing planes and helicopters.

Norwegian weekend – festival of people

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Record numbers of people attended the North Weald Airfield Community Day on Sunday. In addition to the wonderful aircraft on display, there was a host of other entertainment.

The little ones were especially well catered for with fairground rides, bouncy castles and slides. Mums and Dads could also admire the selections of classic and sports cars. It was a Bikers’ Paradise with Harley Davidsons and Triumphs sparkling in the sunshine.

WWII re-enactors added authenticity to the large displays of military vehicles.

Fire engines gleamed as the Air-Ambulance and Essex Police helicopters clattered overhead.

Shows including contrasting Indian and 1950s styled dancers who drew huge applause in the main arena. Happy dads were persuaded to carry out more and more outlandish moves of their own as Epping Forest District Council’s Drainage and Safer Communities Teams handed control of CCTV cameras mounted on a cherry picker fifty feet high to delighted sons and daughters.

Stalls raised money for charities, while profits from £5 gate entrance fees were collected for the RAF Association Battle of Britain Appeal.

Councillor Brian Rolfe, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council made a final presentation to the Norwegian guests in the main arena. Afterwards he said: “The last three days have been very special. I would like to thank everyone connected with North Weald Airfield. There are too many groups and individuals to mention by name but special thanks should go to The Squadron who hosted many of the events for our guests, North Weald Aviation who coordinated the marvellous Community Day activities and the Sid Lawrance Big Band Dance on Saturday night, North Weald Parish Council and our own Airfield Operations team who worked tirelessly throughout.”

He added: “I would also like to thank Epping Ongar Railway who provided such an enjoyable trip for our guests on Saturday, North Weald Museum, St Andrews Primary School, the cadets of North Weald ATC, and all the other groups and individuals who helped to make the weekend so memorable.”

Norwegian weekend – remembering the fallen

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Generations and communities came together at the Norwegian memorial in front of North Weald Airfield Museum on Sunday morning, 9 September 2012.

Veterans and members of the serving armed forces, friends and families paid their respects as Major General Finn Kristian Hannesstad, Chief of Staff of the Norwegian Air Force laid the first wreath in remembrance. Councillor Cyril Hawkins, Councillor Brian Rolfe and Mayor Ole Hjartoy of Bodo represented the civilian communities of North Weald, Epping Forest and Norway.

A flypast was performed by vintage Vampire and T-33 jet-fighters.

Norwegian weekend – memories and celebration

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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.

Memorial stone

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”

 

Norwegian weekend – Norwegians fly in

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3 days of commemoration, celebration and remembrance began when the people of Epping Forest and North Weald welcomed friends from Norway. 2 Norwegian F16 Fighters and 2 classic Vampires from the 1950s flew escort as a C130 Hercules landed at North Weald Airfield on Friday 7 September 2012..

The arrivals were greeted by many local people at The Squadron, North Weald Airfield’s recreation of a Battle of Britain mess like the one the veterans would have known when they served in the RAF during WWII.

The crowds and guests were treated to some special flypasts as a classic Spitfire went through its paces and the Hercules departed in spectacular fashion.

The 3 day visit culminates on Sunday with North Weald Community Day. Come along for a fun-packed day with stalls, demonstrations and some fantastic planes really close-up!

Norwegian Wings over North Weald

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United Kigdom and Norway flagsThe ‘Norwegian Wings over North Weald’ fun day and fly-in on Sunday 9 September promises to be a family day out to remember! 

 

The event, organised by Weald Aviation, Epping Forest District Council and The Squadron, is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Norwegian Squadron’s arrival at RAF North Weald.  A Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) Spitfire, RAF Sea King helicopter fly-pasts, static displays of warbirds, jets and RAF trainers should satisfy the needs of any plane enthusiast. Norwegian World War II veterans will be flown in for the weekend by the Royal Norwegian Air Force in a Hercules transport plane, accompanied by F-16 Fighting Falcons.

Norwegian Wings over North Weald fun day and fly-in

Download the flyer – Norwegian Wings over North Weald Flyer (pdf 398KB)

Chairman of Council Councillor Brian Rolfe said: “North Weald Airfield has a very special relationship with Norway and we are always delighted to welcome back the veterans who flew from there during the Second World War. I am looking forward to meeting them all, as we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to them.”

On display, visitors can admire and interact with military vehicles and re-enactors. There will be a classic car and bike show, including a Harley Davidson ride-in. Free children’s rides and bouncy castles will be available in the ‘Adventure Corner’ and a community arena full of stalls and displays will keep the whole family entertained. A licensed bar and refreshments will be available, so visitors can come along and stay for the day. Helicopter pleasure flights will also be on offer.

Next to the Squadron, volunteers will be opening a ‘Little Norway’ memorial revetment (an embankment to provide blast protection for parked aircraft), celebrating the close ties North Weald has with the people of Norway.

The climax of the event will be the departure of the F16s and the Hercules, which will form up above the Airfield for a final flypast before they head back home.

Councillor Rolfe concluded: “This should be a fantastic day and there will be something there for everyone.”

The event runs from 10am until 4.30pm, with arena displays from 11am. Entrance is £5 per person. The profits from the day will be donated to the Royal Air Forces Association’s Battle of Britain Wings Appeal.

Race for Life ‘takes off’ at North Weald

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Over 2,000 women joined the annual Race For Life at North Weald Airfield on Wednesday 11 July.  Mums, aunties, sisters-in-law and friends of all ages came together to join the fight against cancer and raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK.

Chairman of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Brian Rolfe and Kalin Thomas-Lambert, who was diagnosed with Leukaemia back in 2010, started the race.  The runners, many wearing pink, braved the very wet conditions with good spirits.  This year there were two distances – either five or ten kilometres.

Councillor Brian Rolfe said:  “It was a very emotional evening, with many people racing in memory of loved ones they have lost to cancer, as well as those who have survived it.  The atmosphere on the evening was wonderful, even though the weather wasn’t.”

Sponsorship money can be returned online at raceforlife.org by calling 0871 641 1111 or by sending a cheque payable to Cancer Research UK to Race for Life PO Box 442, Northampton, NN3 6UU.

All safe after emergency landing

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The pilot and passenger of a Cessna 210 walked away unscathed after a controlled emergency landing at North Weald Airfield.The Cessna 210 at North weald Airfield on 20 July

The aircraft, on route from Nottingham, contacted the Airfield at 11.38am on Friday 20 July to report a problem with the undercarriage. Emergency procedures clicked smoothly into place. North Weald Fire and Rescue, supported by 4 tenders from Essex County Fire and Rescue, Essex Police and ambulance were all in position before the aircraft came in to land.

At 12.30pm the aeroplane made a controlled landing with the nose wheel down but the main wheels retracted. The rescue services laid down foam as a precaution as the plane came to rest at the edge of the runway. The pilot and passenger emerged safely.

The airfield was closed temporarily and reopened at 4pm. The Aircraft Investigation Branch was contacted and the aircraft was removed from the runway.

John Gilbert, Director of Environment and Street Scene at Epping Forest District Council which owns North Weald Airfield thanked his own staff and the emergency services. He said: “I am delighted to say the pilot and passenger emerged safely from the plane. Thanks to the speed and professionalism of the airfield operations team rescue service and the Essex Fire and Rescue Service, the pilot had all to support and reassurance possible as he made his approach and safe landing. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in bringing the incident to such a safe and successful conclusion.”

Norwegian Wings over North Weald

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North Weald Airfield LogoPublished on 16 March 2012 Come to our fun day and celebrate with us the unique bond North Weald has with the people of Norway.

‘Norwegian Wings over North Weald’ is the community fun day and fly-in hosted at North Weald Airfield on Sunday 9 September 2012.

The event is aimed at saluting the young Norwegians who served from RAF North Weald in World War II and will be commemorating the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Norwegian 331 and 332 fighter squadrons to the airfield. The event also commemorates the 60th anniversary of the unveiling of the Norwegian memorial stone in 1952 by HRH Princess Astrid of Norway.

To mark these special events, F16 fighters from the Royal Norwegian Air Force based at Bodo Air Station and Norwegian World War II veterans who served at the base will be visiting North Weald for the weekend. Their departure and fly-by are expected to provide a spectacular and emotive finale to the day.

At the fun day community stalls, displays and aircraft on show will reflect the events Norwegian theme. Home-based historic World War II aircraft and cold war jets, along with visiting aircraft and those taking part in the fly-bys will complement the selection of aviation and military re-enactment groups and their vehicles on display. All profits from ticket sales will be donated to the Royal Air Force Associations Battle of Britain Wings Appeal 2012.

There will be a short ceremony of remembrance and commemoration of all the Norwegians stationed at RAF North Weald in World War II who flew, fought and died for our freedom. This will take place at the Norwegian memorial stone before the start of the Community Day.

More detailed information will be published nearer to the date here on the website.

Mark 9 September in your diary and join us in celebrating our Norwegian friends and their place in our history.