• Leeds-Cambridge Initiative

    • Social LesuireEducationalAll community members
    • 00:00 | 17 May 2017
    • Contact: Alan Myerson
    • Venue: Cambridge
    • Phone:
    • Email: leedscambridge17may@gmail.com

    Major Clive Behrens Branch of the ROYAL BRITISH LEGION Chairman Mr A Myerson The Leeds-Cambridge Initiative We are writing to you today to give you some interesting information and to invite you to our event on Wednesday 17 May 2017. Just outside Cambridge is the American Cemetery and Memorial. This is an American equivalent of our Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries and contains the graves of 3,812 American Servicemen and Women and others who died ‘over here’ during World War II. There is also a wall containing the names of a further 5,127 other US personnel who were based here but who have no known grave. The land was gifted to America by Cambridge University. There are 80 Jewish headstones of pure white carved marble Stars of David. We of the Major Clive Behrens Branch of the Royal British Legion in Leeds, whose members are all Jewish, discovered that relatively few people outside the Cambridge area knew about this cemetery and its Jewish connections. Supported by the Leeds Branch of the Jewish Historical Society of England, we have arranged an event to honour all those remembered at the cemetery, with the Jewish dead particularly in mind. Although an annual Memorial Day is held, there has never been any commemoration specifically for the Jewish dead. The event will take place on Wednesday 17 May 2017. There will be a service led by our chaplain, Rabbi Anthony Gilbert, and tours of the cemetery led by cemetery staff. All the Jewish graves will be visited. Also planned is a flypast by a genuine WWII 1944 P51 Mustang. The Mustang is famous for changing the course of the Second World War. When it was introduced in 1943 it provided the USAAF and the RAF with a fighter which could, for the first time, escort the bombers all the way to Germany and back. Before this, bomber losses ran at 60%. Many of the young pilots buried or otherwise remembered at the cemetery would have flown on such escort duty in Mustangs. Buried with them is Thomas Hitchcock, the US Defence Attache to London, who died test flying a Mustang, and we shall be remembering him specifically. Even a 1940s Boeing Stearman US Navy biplane, the type that many of those buried here would have learned to fly in, is scheduled to ‘fly-by’ as part of this unique service. Our day already has the support of the American Battle Monuments Commission and others, including Leeds City Council, Members of Parliament, RAF Menwith Hill, the United States Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Leeds Rifles Association, Gurkhas, the Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women and the Cambridge Jewish Residents' Association. Decorations and medals may be worn and Standard Bearers will lead the short ‘March Past’ followed by all who wish to pay their respects. We hope that your interest has been aroused by this information and that you will want to join us on this day. Coaches are being arranged for participants to travel from Leeds and others will be making their own way from various parts of the country. Please do contact us if you have any queries at this stage leedscambridge17may@gmail.com We look forward to seeing you and your colleagues on the day. Every good wishes. The Leeds-Cambridge Initiative Committee: Alan Myerson Chairman, Major Clive Behrens Branch, Royal British Legion Rabbi Anthony Gilbert Chaplain, Major Clive Behrens Branch, Royal British Legion Jeff Brownhut MBE Lead Director, Northern Ireland International Airshow Malcolm Sender Leeds Branch, Jewish Historical Society of England Elisabeth Baker West Yorkshire County Chairman, ABF The Soldiers' Charity