Poignant memorial remembers airmen killed in the Cheviots

Airmen from five nations who lost their lives in wartime crashes in the Cheviot Hills were remembered today.

The Duke of Gloucester was in the College Valley to unveil the new Cheviot Memorial, dedicated to the airmen who lost their lives on the hills between 1939 and 1946 in 13 crashes.

The new Cheviot Memorial. Picture by Jane Coltman

The new Cheviot Memorial. Picture by Jane Coltman

The original was unveiled and dedicated by the Duke in 1995, but had worn very badly in recent years, not least because it was made of slate.

Part of the wider RAF 100 celebrations to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force, a £25,000 project was launched to repair and upgrade the monument, with the fund-raising efforts led by the Alnwick and Rothbury branches of the RAF Association.

At today's high-profile rededication and unveiling of the new memorial, which is made of polished granite and bronze, guests included the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, the Duchess of Northumberland; Geoff Watson, civic head of Northumberland County Council; John Baker Cresswell, chairman of College Valley Estates; Group Captain Tim Willbond, project director; and representatives of the RAF, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, United States Air Force and the German Air Force.

The Duke unveiled the main memorial and a second dedicated to the local shepherds, who undertook rescues, and sheepdog Sheila, who was awarded an animal bravery award for her involvement in the rescue of American crew, after a B17 Flying Fortress crashed in December 1944.

Group Captain Tim Willbond, the Duchess of Northumberland, Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, and the Duke of Gloucester at the Roll of Honour. Picture by Jane Coltman

Group Captain Tim Willbond, the Duchess of Northumberland, Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, and the Duke of Gloucester at the Roll of Honour. Picture by Jane Coltman

After a service of dedication, wreaths were laid and the Duke viewed a striking Roll of Honour which lists the names of those who died, including eight German airmen. Illustrated with graphics of the planes which crashed, it has the words Duty Done - They Sleep.

Following the ceremony, the Duke unveiled a commemorative plaque at Cuddystone Hall and planted an oak tree to mark his visit.

Wreaths are laid. Picture by Jane Coltman

Wreaths are laid. Picture by Jane Coltman

The rededication service. Picture by Jane Coltman

The rededication service. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Roll of Honour. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Roll of Honour. Picture by Jane Coltman