The unveiling of a plaque on the former RAF site at Stanton Harcourt, near Witney, reminded John Sparrowhawk of a terrifying moment during the Second World War.

He was fishing in the River Windrush when a German plane flew over and dropped bombs nearby, sending him into total panic.

He wrote in after reading our story of the large bronze memorial plaque installed to commemorate the 135 men and women who served at the base.

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Mr Sparrowhawk writes: “I lived in Ducklington during the war and was catching minnows in the Windrush, using a jam jar on the end of a piece of string, in the field known as ‘Gooseham’ when I heard machine gun fire and some explosions.

“I started for home and was terrified when a German Heinkel plane swooped over me.

“I shall always remember the distinctive shape of the wings and the black crosses on them.

“With hindsight, I can only imagine that I was not noticed or that the pilot had children of his own.

“I ran all the way home, shouting ‘the Germans are here’ through the square.

Oxford Mail:

“Later that night, my father took me to Stanton Harcourt where we saw the contractor’s hut riddled with bullet holes and the craters where the bombs had landed.

“I was about 11 at the time and lived in the Bell Inn and we saw the Whitley bombers often after the aerodrome became functional.

“Some of the airmen paid us a visit before going to the dances held in the parish room.”

Work on RAF Stanton Harcourt began in May 1940. Teams from George Wimpey & Co and British Runways Ltd took just four months to construct three runways, a range of buildings and vital anti-aircraft defences, surviving one fatal enemy attack part-way through.

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The first aircraft to arrive were a fleet of Whitleys, and for four years, the base played a vital role in supporting RAF Abingdon.

It was noted as the departure point for Winston Churchill to attend the pivotal Casablanca Conference in January 1943 to discuss future strategy with American President Franklin D Roosevelt.

In July 1941, it had been a starting point for a bomber raid on the German battleship Scharnhorst.

The plaque in memory of those who served at the base was unveiled by Group Captain Emily Flynn, station commander at RAF Brize Norton.

She said: “The men and women who served at RAF Stanton Harcourt will never be forgotten and we are all indebted to their heroic contribution to the Second World War.”

She also buried a time capsule with items collected by pupils at the village primary school reflecting what village life is now, nearly 80 years after the war ended.

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The ceremony was held as work on 66 new homes on part of the site now known as Hayfield Green was nearing completion.

Some relics from the airfield have been restored, including the air raid and blast shelters, guard house, water tower and the bomber training building.