The New Memorial
The third part of the memorial - for all the American servicemen who were based locally and lost their lives during WWII
Greenham Common and the immediate area played a prominent role in the preparations and launch of D-Day in 1944. The third part of the memorial is to honour the men who served at Greenham or were stationed in the surrounding area who gave their lives in the name of freedom.
In October 1943 the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) took control of Greenham airbase as the preparations intensified for D-Day in 1944.
Meanwhile, paratroopers from Easy Company 506th Parachute Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division - The Screaming Eagles - were billeted in the nearby villages of Aldbourne and Ramsbury. Their heroism was famously commemorated in the book and television series Band of Brothers.
Winston Churchill visited nearby Welford Airbase on 23rd March 1944 to inspect the troops and met Brig. Gen. Don Pratt of the 101st Airborne Division.
By early June 1944, forces were at a high state of readiness. Greenham's role changed dramatically to accommodate troop transport aircraft Douglas C-47 Dakotas of the 438th TCG and the common was earmarked as an assembly point for WACO CG-4AAssault Gliders and the British-made Horsa Gliders.
On the night of June 5th 1944, the base was ringed with armed troops. General Eisenhower arrived to watch the first troops leave by Dakota bound for the shores of Normandy on Operation Overlord and gave his famous "Eyes of the world are on you" speech. Over 80 Dakotas carrying 1,430 men from the 502nd Parachute Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, left the base at 11 second intervals. Aircraft also towed Horsa and Hadrian gliders to the front in France and later carried the wounded back for treatment in Britain.
2,499 American troops were killed in France on June 6th 1944. (US National D Day Memorial Foundation)
Greenham Common Trust
After the MoD decommissioned RAF Greenham in 1993, a group of local businessmen, concerned about the future of the former airbase, created Greenham Common Trust and bought the 900-acre site in 1997.
The majority was handed to the local authority (now West Berkshire Council) to restore and manage as common land and was officially reopened in April 2000. The remaining military buildings were kept by the Trust who built a business park, which now has 150 businesses employing over 1,500 local people. The rental income from the park is reinvested and given out in charitable grants. The local community has benefitted from over £13m in grant aid from the Trust since 1997.
Glider Crash Memorial
The Trust has held an annual memorial service every year since 1997 on December 12th for the paratroopers and glider pilots who were killed at Greenham Common .
To honour the brave men who were killed that day roads and buildings on the park have been renamed. In 2004 relatives of the crash victims travelled from the USA to commemorate the 60th anniversary.
Two years later the Trust invited United States Air Force Colonel Wuebold, Commanding Officer of USAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, to unveil a new street sign for Jones Drive, named in remembrance of Private Evan Bennett Jones.
Private Jones' nephew, Ellis Jones III, said before the ceremony: "The Jones family is extremely thankful that everyone involved is taking their time and resources to honour those that made the ultimate sacrifice to the free world. We must never forget any of those that gave their life."