The Propeller Memorial

In 1990, the small group charged with organising a suitable memorial to commemorate the lives of the brave airmen who went to war from Watton and Bodney, were privileged to hear from and finally meet Ole Ronnest from Denmark. He wrote the following story about the propeller we had dedicated 12 years ago at the 1990 reunion. 

“ I was born here in Britain in 1940 and before I went into service on Blenheim bomber R3800, many clever hands had created, honed and machined me to perfect symmetry.

On June the 28th, I and my aircraft body was issued to the 82nd Squadron at Watton to replace another Blenheim bomber, which at that time, and like so many other aircraft of the RAF and their crews had failed to return. But too short a time was given me to serve the squadron from this beautiful countryside of Norfolk.

I do remember very clearly the fatal Tuesday morning in August - the 13th, 1940, when my ground crew brought me and 5 other Blenheims out of our sleep under the trees which encircled the landing field of Bodney. This very morning I was 30 hours and 20 minutes old. Soon all the ground crew around me were so busy making ready for a long distance flight. Bombs were lifted up into my belly and machine guns loaded and made ready. Something special was ahead, not only for us but 6 other Blenheims from Watton as well.

A little later my crew: Fl/Lt Syms, Sgt Wright and Sgt Turner came strolling along the grass field towards me – I heard them talk about a long flight without fighter cover to raid a German ‘Whop se nest’ in Jutland, right west of Aalborg, and I quickly learned from their low and earnest voices that this day may bring the worst for all of us.

However, I was young and did not think very much about death and I was indeed proud to serve my nation and to be one of the many motivating forces that should convey the brave RAF warriors to the battlefield.

My last minutes in the sky over Aalborg and the target – what happened to me and the other 10 Blenheims who reached the target and of which some of them bombed the target, can now be read in the Wartime Watton Museum. In less than ½ an hour it was all over. By now I only want to mention that 20 airmen were killed so far from home and 13 or their comrades survived. Some of them severely injured and most of them had to spend their youth in German Prison Camps. ( Some are with us today, I am pleased to say)

Now in 1981 I was resurrected from the mud of the Limfjorden and together with most other scrubby parts of my aircraft I was cleaned and polished. I was then exhibited at the Wartime Museum in Frederikshaven to help unfold the price that had to be paid for freedom so many years ago. Curious eyes gazed at me and read the text. But it was not my scene.

Therefore, I want to underline my thanks to the thoughtful people of the Memorial Fund Committee, especially to Paul Lincoln and Julian Horn and all my friends of the Wartime for there wishes to get me back to Watton. I am now here at my old stamping ground. From my new and excellent place on the fine memorial I do hope to be a motifying force that will succeed in bringing back the spirit of the many airmen of both 21 and 82 Squadrons who lost their lives on the battlefield during World War 2 – the spirit that made them give their all

Ole Ronnest Saturday 26th May 1990.

With the demolition of much of the old RAF camp, discussions are taking place as to the final location of the  memorials.