THIS weekend will mark the unveiling of an important memorial to the contribution a village has made to the war effort.

Thanks to funding, Ardleigh has been able to commission and install the sign which will be officially launched by north Essex MP Bernard Jenkin on Sunday.

Guests, including a number of relatives of US Airmen shot down over the village and remembered within the new sign, will gather at the Village Hall and walk over to the green for a short ceremony before returning to the hall for an exhibition on the events people and places on the plaque.

Town historian Janet Hamblin is amongst those putting the exhibition together.

She explains the events marked on the lectern style sign include Blue Barns Farm which was home to Red Wings Air Factory, Colliers Wood Farm where the Ardleigh and Great Bromley Mobile Hospital Unit was based and the Halifax Bomber brought down in Ardleigh.

The site of the doodle bug crash of 1944, Redbury Farm cottages, is also remembered.

Jill says villager Heather Neil remembers her uncle being concerned the three cottages were a target and insisted they go and stay with him.

“They weren’t that worried but he insisted and then the bomb wiped out all three of the cottages and killed their neighbours either side.

The air crashes were researched by enthusiast Chris Stanfield.

On February 11 1943 eleven Mark II Halifax bombers took off from Pocklington in East Yorkshire as part of a raid on Nuremberg.

They experienced severe weather conditions and two aircraft returned to Pocklington.

But an hour after take off, at 8.24pm, a third, DY-P, crashed in the fields of Home Farm, now Peake Fruit, in Ardleigh.

The aircraft exploded on impact creating a crater about 30yds in diameter and 8ft deep and all the crew were killed.

Half an hour later the 1,000lb bomb it was carrying exploded.

The crew were Charles Bray RAF, Pilot, 27, wireless operator Cyril Smith, 23, bomb aimer Thomas Barfoot, 19, air Gunner, John Dudley, 20, Leonard Herbert, the navigator/observor, 22, Irving Sanitsky, also air Gunner, 22, and Edward Widgery, 35.

Cyril’s daughter, Cyriline, who was born after his death in the crash, is among a number of relatives making a special visit for the unveiling which also commemorates the Thunderbolt crash which killed Samuel, Keith Batson, 22, of the 56th Fighter Group on December 30 1944.

Samuel, from California took off from Boxted Airfield but came down on Wick Farm after suffering engine failure.

There is a plaque in the privately owned wood where he landed, which is to be moved to a special place soon, as the land is to be flooded as part of work on the reservoir.