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Freshfield Nature Reserve is now home to a fitting World War tribute

History met nature at a poignant ceremony at The Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Freshfield Dune Health Nature Reserve in Formby, Merseyside, in December.

The reserve borders Woodvale Airfield, which opened on 7th December 1941 and as such, was marking its 75th anniversary since opening To commemorate this landmark date, The Lancashire Wildlife Trust, in association with the Formby Civic Society and the Sefton Mayoral Fund, have produced and installed an information board to commemorate the airmen that lost their lives at Woodvale Airfield during World War II, which was unveiled at a short ceremony.

Staff and volunteers of the Trust were present, along with members of the Formby Civic Society, local historian Aldon Ferguson and Woodvale's station commander, Wing Commander David Hooton and Station Adjutant, Warrant Officer Neil Blair.

Fiona Whitfield, Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Merseyside Reserve Manager, said: "The board will provide a dignified memoriam, as well as educating visitors to the reserve on the sacrifices that were made, by the airmen."“We are pleased that we have been able to work with the Formby Civic Society to have produced what we think is a fitting and informative way to mark those who lost their lives at RAF Woodvale."

“It is hard for many people today to even imagine the incredible and often horrific sacrifices that were made by our airmen. Hopefully this board will help current and future generations understand what horror unfolded on their doorstep."“We are now looking to get the board officially registered as a War Memorial.”The memorial is located at Freshfield Dune Heath Nature Reserve which is the single largest lowland heath site on Merseyside.

RAF Woodvale was designed as a fighter airfield for the defence of Merseyside, but was completed too late for the 1940-41 Blitz. The base was officially opened on 7th December 1941, two months after its first runway had been completed and continued this task for the duration of the war.

In 1943, No.222 (Dutch) Squadron’s Spitfires added to the Polish squadrons already based at Woodvale. Night protection was undertaken by Beaufighters and Mosquitos; Woodvale became Sector Control Station for the North West, controlling all operational flying, especially enemy aircraft interceptions.

In June 1957 a Spitfire made one of the last operational Spitfire flights in active British military markings from RAF Woodvale. No.5 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-Operation Unit moved in on 1st January 1958 and operated Meteors until 30th September 1971. RAF Woodvale is probably the last “temporary”

RAF site built to protect our shores during WW2 to remain active today.

Top Photo credit: Tony B

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