Eagle war plinth plan for Sidmouth gets backing
PUBLISHED: 15:26 09 March 2012
Sidmouth RBL chairman seeks donations to secure plinth dedication to town’s service men and women
FINANCIAL backing has been promised to aid the installation of a lasting dedication to Sidmouth’s service men and women.
It has taken Dave O’Connor, chairman of Sidmouth branch of the Royal British Legion, several years of planning to get his scheme off the ground.
He explained: “I put this together in 2006, but because of the financial situation I couldn’t get the funding so I dismissed the whole idea to commemorate service men and women from Sidmouth.”
Then he’d tried Sidmouth Town Council, East Devon District Council and lottery funding. Now, thanks to a £1,600 grant from Sid Vale Association’s Keith Owen Fund, £500 from the town council and £200 from Devon County Council, Dave is well on the way to raising the £3,100 needed to erect a plinth, topped by an eagle, in Blackmore Gardens.
He said: “During the Second World War, a large amount of service men and women trained in Sidmouth, making it almost a garrison town. But there is no reference of this in the valley.
“I feel that this part of our history will be forgotten.”
Between 1939 and 1945, men and women from the Royal Marines, Army and RAF were billeted in requisitioned hotels, guest houses, pubs and shops. There were detachments from the Commandos Royal Marines, The Royal Artillery, 571 Royal Engineers, The Warwicks, The Kings Own, The Kings Own Scottish Borders and 4th Battalion the Devonshire Regiment.
“Sidmouth was known as RAF Sidmouth until November 14, 1940,” said Dave, “and there were two radar stations on Salcombe Hill.”
Six months ago, he stumbled across an eagle, more than one metre high, which he bought as a fitting statute for the memorial.
“You can imagine what my wife said, but later she said if I didn’t get the funding it would look good on our rockery!”
EDDC has agreed that if the plinth is granted planning permission, it can be sited at Blackmore Gardens, on a spot known as Lenin’s Tomb. It will be edged by a boundary wall and flower beds.
Now Dave is seeking donations to help raise the full amount for the project, and would also like to hear from anyone who has any photographs of Sidmouth in the war years or stories of those stationed in the town.
Anyone wishing to help should contact him on 01395 516160.