MGM 2008 - A Night At The Harrington Aviation Museum

By Phillipa Davies | 23 May 2008
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The Harrington Aviation Museum is an important holding of unique artefacts relating to the base's role during World War Two. © Harrington Aviation Museum.

Visitors were out in force for the second night at the museum at Harrington Aviation Museum on Thursday 22 May 2008.

The open evening began at 6pm as enthusiasts were invited to stroll around the original operations building of the Carpetbaggers, a group that remained secret for 30 years.

This highly secret air base flew out 29,000 containers, 10,000 packages and 995 agents (including Violette Szabo's last ill-fated mission in June 1944) during World War Two. The missions resulted in the loss of seventy aircraft with most crews being killed.

“We’re doing this as part of Museum and Galleries Month 2008. The aim is to bring in families; mum, dad, children and grandparents are all welcome,” said Fred West, museum secretary.

Photographs, models, clothing and weaponry at the museum bring to life the exploits of carpetbagger agents who parachuted behind enemy lines during World War Two and offer a rare look at the supply network behind secret missions in World War II.

A permanent memorial to the agents, soldiers and airmen of Harrington who lost their lives during World War Two, the site draws veterans and their families from all over the world. Picture © Harrington Aviation Museum

“The first one was quite surprising, we had 45 adults and 3 children, so on Thursday night we thought - did they all come on May 8? Obviously not, as there was a steady stream arriving from 7pm,” said Fred.

Although this leisurely pace is not to be expected normally, you could bag yourself a free cuppa and a cake.

Usually a guided tour and unique film footage is on offer, providing an insight into the life of those who dropped agents and weapons to resistance in occupied Europe in 1944 – 45.

“It was quite an operation, but no one around and about knew what was going on, as those involved were warned not to speak of it, otherwise they’d be killed,” said Fred.

The museum is housed in the original operations building at the airfield's administration site and illustrates the story through documents, photographs, relics, recreations and uniforms.

Shows the Renaissance in the Regions logo.

Phillipa Davies is one of our three Renaissance East Midlands arts writers, reporting on MGM 2008 events all over the region for the whole month of May. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

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