Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Long Kesh war heroes

Letters to the editor should be sent to: 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB. E-mail: writeback@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

The debate on whether a sports stadium and/or a conflict resolution centre should be built at the Maze has attracted a wide range of views, but one issue has been overlooked.

The area used to be better known as Long Kesh and first came to public attention during the Second World War when an airfield was built on the site in preparation for the arrival of the Unites States Air Force.

It was subsequently found to be surplus to their requirements and was taken over by the RAF for use as a training station.

I was not old enough to serve in the Armed Forces, but as a member of Unit 800 of the Air Training Corps, I share memories with fellow cadets who were introduced to flying on that airfield.

Crew members kindly tolerated us as passengers on training and test flights. The aircraft used were the, by then, obsolete Bristol Beaufort torpedo bombers. From time to time mechanical failure resulted in accidents both on take-off and landing. Some of these proved fatal as the graveyard of a nearby cemetery still bears witness.

Could I, in the present contentious wrangling, make the plea to remember that on those concrete runways several young men made the supreme sacrifice, giving their lives in defence of Europe's freedom?

J Claude MacQuigg, Belfast

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