Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Old Street No 2

You can still see it behind the trees, on the left once you've gone by the Stilton turn, southbound on the A1(M). The old road still passes right in front of this water tower, and my attention has always been drawn to it because somebody in the car would inevitably say "That's where Catweazle lives". A lone survivor, it once served a wartime airfield, a landmark doubtless watched out for by the anxious crews of crippled B17 Flying Fortresses swaying down to the runway. The 1943 aerodrome would have been called Conington, after the village it completely engulfed, but to avoid confusion with Coningsby in Lincolnshire the neighbouring village name was pressed into service by the USAAF. Their 457th Bomb Group arrived at Glatton in January 1944, and you can read all about their incredible missions here. One eerie postscript to Glatton, (part of which is now Peterborough Airport), is that the Second-in-Command, Lt.Col. William F.Smith, was the pilot who accidentally flew his B25 into the Empire State Building on a foggy July morning in 1945. It's worth taking the old road if you're ever near Conington, just so that you can stare up at this rusting tower and take a few minutes to remember the acts of sheer bravery and heroism that once started and finished at this aerodrome. There's a memorial on the grass just in front of the rapidly enveloping wood.


Philip Wilkinson said...

Wonderful the way it looms through the trees. As Diplomat might say: MORE WATER TOWERS.

Jon Dudley said...

That's a nice post, Peter, actually remembering all those poor buggers - well done! I have a mate in Essex who's a bricklayer (and a good'un too) who has erected some very thoughtful memorials to the 9th US Airforce at several disused aerodromes in his area. It's easy to forget.

A F-A said...

Nice post. One of the most scandalous things is that the UK has no national memorial to Bomber Command, their undoubted heroism being largely commemorated by individual organisations. Presumably some liberal thought that there was something 'not quite nice' about dropping steel and HE from the sky on poor defenceless Germans. Thank goodness such things as these water towers remain and continue to jog our collective amnesia and myopia.