A few days ago, I had a letter from someone who was a cadet at Clewiston in 1943. He wrote, “I would not have thought that there was so much interest in such a small part of the war effort as the number of survivors of 5BFTS is diminishing.” The latter part of this sentence is sadly true; each ‘In Memoriam’ notes the death of one or more people directly connected with 5BFTS. This time, we remember our good friend, Gordon Newsham (Course 24), 5BFTS Committee Member, Archivist and organiser of Midland Reunions who passed away in May.
The first part of the sentence, however, is definitely not true! Those of us who were privileged to have attended the 60th Memorial Day Service in Arcadia in May were humbled by the support and interest shown by our friends in America. The Union Jack continues to fly proudly alongside the American Stars and Strips in Clewiston and at Airglades Airfield (Riddle Field), and the City of Clewiston has remodelled their Civic Park where 5BFTS features in the new Memorial Garden. Here in the UK, the National Memorial Arboretum has placed a brand new plaque explaining about the grove of birch trees planted by 5BFTS Association and the Imperial War Museum at Duxford is developing a 5BFTS section for its American Air Museum.
On a personal note, in July, I travelled to Jacksonville in Florida and re-established the links between my family and the Simpson family of Fort Myers who were so kind to my father and three of his cadet friends in 1941-1942. Marion Simpson was aged 7 in 1942. Now 81 years, she welcomed us with true American hospitality and the intervening years fell away! A wonderful experience.
‘Their efforts to preserve the freedom of the world were not in vain
and will never be forgotten’
Scholarly Commons Citation
Harding, J. A. (2016). 5 BFTS Association Newsletter No 5 - September. , (). Retrieved from https://commons.erau.edu/bfts-clewiston-newsletters/22