Military History Tours On Tour - RAAF in the UK 3 July 2011
This was a huge day that started when we started by stopping on the way to Shaftsbury and viewing the Regimental badges that were carved in the chalk hills on the edge of the Salisbury Plains in 1916 by units that were training there prior to movong to the continent.
We then slipped into Shaftsbury for a short visit. A day when there was a fair in this Mediaeval Town that is on only one day each year. This was Alfred the Great's town and he was the first to gather all the tribes under one banner and in doing so started to win the war against the Danes. He was buried here and his open tomb is in the ruins of the Abbey that was pulled down by Henry the 8th in a fit against the Catholic Church. It is a pity that the Pope didn't give him permission to divorce as many major catholic buildings in England may have survived his spiteful outbursts.
On the Yeovilton where the home of the Fleet Air Arm are located. Our mission was to visit the Fleet Air Arm Museum. What a wonderful experience to see all these planes that fought from Air Craft Carrier decks. The interactive aspects of the collection are second to none.
Our final 2 visits before heading back to Salisbury were to Sutton Veny and then Stonehenge.
Sutton Veny is fortunate that it possesses a book in which the accounts of the Churchwardens were kept from 1686 to 1826. These accounts reveal many interesting aspects of life in the village over the years. The current Church was built between 1866 and 1868 fromFrome stone with Box ground-stone dressings.
Australia has a connection with Sutton Veny and the church. In the Great War 1914-1918, there were many camps around Sutton Veny and at the second half of the War, the Sutton Veny camps were mainly occupied by Australians.
At least one of the camps was a hospital taking casualties from the Western Front and to transport the wounded to the hospital, a railway line was built along side the river.
In 1918/1919 a devastating flu epidemic hit the country and many who survived the war sucumbed to the flu. Of the 170 interred in the cemetery, 145 are Australians and include the Matron of the Hospital and 2 nurses and a number of Doctors. There has been established in the church an Australian ANZAC Memorial Chapel. The Australian Govt and the RSL provided funding support a few years ago to repair the roof of the church.
The people of Sutton Veny are proud of the association with Australia and hope to foster stronger ties. Our visit is considered part of that fostering and the people of the village are very happy that we do visit them.
We left Sutton Veny and stopped near Stonehedge to view this ancient monument before heading back to our hotel.
Tomorrow we head north to Wolverhampton..