This summer sees the 75th Anniversary of D Day and as part of our regular local presentations, the Friends of Crossways Library (FCL), are commemorating the occasion with something a little different.

In 1942 and 1943, RAF Warmwell hosted Hawker Typhoon squadrons, and a visitor included a young pilot, Roland Beamont (later Wing Commander), who was seconded to Hawker from the RAF as a Typhoon development and production test pilot.

Beamont later went on to be a test pilot for English Electric, conducting much of the test-flying of the English Electric Lightning, a groundbreaking supersonic interceptor fighter of the 1960s that saw service in the RAF until the late 1980s.

Beamont was the first British pilot to exceed Mach 1 in level flight in a development Lightning and the first British pilot to exceed Mach 2.

From early 1944, RAF Warmwell hosted a wing of USAAC, Lockheed P38 Lightning fighters, who spent their time in Dorset conducting fighter sweeps over France.

It is fitting that a presentation on the new Lockheed Martin F35B Lightning II on the evening of Wednesday 5 June in the Spitfire Club, Crossways, at 7:30pm would be both out of the ordinary and topical, but with a very strong link to the past. The date is significant because D Day began on 5 June for our part of Dorset with the embarkation of the US Infantry for ‘bloody Omaha’ from Weymouth, and the glider assault from RAF Tarrant Rushton (below).

Among those taking part was Lt Richard Todd, who went on to star as Guy Gibson VC in the Dambusters. He was the first CO of 617 Squadron – the first squadron to get the new F35 Lightning II.

The Station Commander of RAF Marham has kindly agreed to provide a speaker with an audio-visual presentation on the new Lightning II.

Tickets are £5 or £3 for FCL members, from Tricia and Ian Virgo (01305 854129) or Crossways Library.

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