Service to honour Horsham district’s D-Day airbase heroes

JPCT 160813 S13340224x War Memorial. Coolham -photo by Steve Cobb ENGSUS00120130816153048
JPCT 160813 S13340224x War Memorial. Coolham -photo by Steve Cobb ENGSUS00120130816153048

A ceremony is set to be held at a former Horsham district airfield to pay tribute to those who served in the D-Day landings.

As part of the 75th anniversary commemorations of the major operation which helped turn the tide of the Second World War two plaques are set to be unveiled at the site of the old Coolham airfield.

Map of Coolham Airfield

Map of Coolham Airfield

Coolham was one of seven areas across the south chosen to create a temporary airbase which would be used by pilots in operations across the English Channel, none more notable than the D-Day landings.

The temporary base, off the Coolham Road, was created within ten months but was only in operation between April and July in 1944 as the Allies wrestled for air superiority over the Channel. In that time 15 pilots and workers of various nationalities at Coolham died whilst serving their counties.

Two specially made plaques honouring the brave teams who flew and ran the airfield are set to be unveiled on Sunday June 9.

One will be placed at the airfield itself with a second erected in the gardens of the Selsey Arms pub, a place where many of the pilots and workers would visit in their downtime.

Chairman of Horsham District Council Kate Rowbottom will be unveiling the plaque at midday at the pub which will also be serving a traditional 1940s menu with everything from bangers and mash to spam fritters.

As part of the commemorations visitors are being encouraged to take a walk around the two mile airfield. There will be multiple stands dotted around with information about the base and the brave people who worked, flew and died from the airbase.