On June 4th, 5th and 6th 2019 there was an exhibition highlighting Christchurch’s role in D Day. These roles included a P-47 Group on the airfield, Horsa gliders built there by Airspeed and the Royal Engineers Bridging Camp development of bridging tanks and the Bailey Bridge. “Chalk 91” PF800, the lead Horsa at Pegasus Bridge was built at Christchurch.
Christchurch boatyards built LCA landing craft, and the work of the Air Defence Experimental Establishment and the Signals Research and Development Establishment equipped the Fighter Control Tenders providing a radar interception capability over the invasion beaches.
The displays were augmented with models by John Levesley, Jez Thomson, Paul Moores and the late Brian Bisp. There were not huge numbers of models, the Vikings members models were mainly in 1/48th and 1/35th scale with a couple in 1/24th scale or larger.
The exhibition was in the Druitt Hall behind the Library, 10 til 6 on the 4th and 5th and a couple of hours on the morning of the 6th. There was also be a drum head ceremony at 7:35 am on the 6th, the time the 1st Hants and 1st Dorsets were landing in the first wave on Gold Jig beach. The venue for the ceremony was Christchurch Priory.
photo copyright Martin Vieyra/ Druitt Hall
opened at 10 am, the Mayor of Christchurch, Councillor Lesley Dedman, was shown around the models and later we did an interview on Hope FM radio.
Photos of the models relating to the Royal Engineers Bridging Camp
model of a Churchill AVRE fitted with a scratch built “Bobbin” carpet layer by the late Brian Bisp, and the Bronco 1/35th scale model of a Bailey Bridge by John Levesley.
Model of a Churchill AVRE with a scratch built “pusher” attachment assisting in positioning a section of Bailey Bridge – modelled by the late Brian Bisp.
also by Brian Bisp, a model of a Churchill AVRE showing both configurations for transporting a small box girder bridge – either on the front of the tank or towed behind. Brian scratch built the bridges and their transporter options.
The Tank Museum
collection includes items relating to bridging. Several different tanks were assessed for use in these roles. At the museum there is a surviving Valentine tank equipped with a Scissor Bridge designed at Christchurch and a stretched Mk V WW1 tank that was fitted with an A frame and was used at Christchurch to swing bridges across the river.
Photos of the models relating to the Airspeed Horsa glider.
Scratchbuilt model of the interior of a Horsa Glider approaching Pegasus Bridge, by Jez Thomson.
built without its wings, the Bronco 1/35th scale Horsa modelled by John Levesley
Local historian and speaker Steve Robson provided a model of the Horsa prototype DG597 and a display describing the first flight of the glider flown by George Errington.
The 405th and 404th Fighter Group’s P-47s
a 1/24th scale 405th FG Thunderbolt which flew from Christchurch by John Levesley
and a similar 1/48th scale “jug” by Paul Moores
and a 1/72nd scale cast pewter model of a 404th FG P-47 from the Diverse Images