World War 2 in Long Sutton and Sutton Bridge

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They came to Sutton Bridge and Long Sutton under unusual circumstances in the Second World War.

They arrived as prisoners of war, as evacuees, and some as airmen with the RAF.

Some of them never left, making their home among the people of the Suttons. Others never left because they made the greatest sacrifice of all and their bones now rest among the Sutton Bridge war graves.

The Suttons’ involvement in the war was greater than that of other parishes because of the RAF airfield and the prisoner of war camp at Sutton Bridge.

Now the history of that time is to be told in a series of exhibitions being organised by Long Sutton & District Civic Society.

The society plans to hold the first one at the Curlew Centre at Sutton Bridge on Tuesday, May 19 (7pm).

That one, Blitz & Pieces, tells the personal stories behind a collection of service memorabilia.

On Sunday, May 24 (10am-4pm), again at the Curlew Centre, the society is commemorating the 70th anniversary of VE day with an exhibition.

On September 12 and 13, to coincide with Heritage Open Days, the exhibition will move to the Masonic Hall at Long Sutton, the WW2 officers’ mess of the Queen’s Royal Regiment, with displays also at Long Sutton Scout and Guide Hall (10am-4pm both venues).

Of course, the residents of both villages were also caught up in those difficult years, either serving in the forces, volunteering with the local defence force, or simply waiting at home for news of a loved one.

A film show, entitled Local Heroes, which includes interviews with local residents, will be played during the exhibitions.

It is all of those stories, together with photographs, letters and any other records, that civic society members would like to include in the exhibition.

Events organiser Wendy Jeffries plans to include the details of the airmen from all over the world who came to train at the airfield, but who never left.

She also has the letters from bereaved families to the local vicar at the time, the Rev Cawley, thanking him for words of comfort. He would have conducted services for the 56 or so men in the graveyard – three at the same time on one fateful occasion.

Society chairman Tim Machin explains: “The men came for a short period of time and survived or died. They came off Tiger Moths straight into high performance single engine fighters with minimal training, and they were flying solo straight away.”

Wendy appeals to anyone with information about families whose names appear on the local war memorial to get in touch on 01406 362310.