In January 2013, the Tempsford Parish Council adopted a proposal put forward by one of the villagers, Tazi Husain, to set up a monument to the memory of the many women secret agents who were flown out of RAF Tempsford to aid resistance movements in Europe through World War II.
The stories of these remarkable women - from all walks of life, of many creeds and origins, serving variously as couriers, wireless operators and saboteurs, some of whom lost their lives - have featured in many writings and films since the war but many have not been honoured and a few still remain nameless. In 2011, following the widely publicized account of the circumstances surrounding the recent death of one of these agents, Baroness Crawley led a debate in the House of Lords, revisiting the history and acknowledging the tremendous debt that the country owes these forgotten women. She asked whether the government agreed that not enough had been done to commemorate them formally in the way of celebratory and memorial stamps that could be revisited. Despite wide support from her fellow Peers at the debate there has, as yet, been no national initiative to act.
On approval by the Parish Council, The Tempsford Memorial Trust has been set up to take the proposal forward, raise funds, gain planning approval, direct construction and set up of the monument and ensure its future sustainability. Baroness Crawley has kindly undertaken to support the trust as Patron. The monument will comprise a white marble column set upon a black granite plinth and its proposed to be sited at the corner of the Millennium Sanctuary opposite the St Peter's Church Cemetery. Ivett & Reed , architectural stonemasons of Cambridge have been tasked with crafting and setting up the memorial. In addition to the inscriptions on the face and back of the marble column, as illustrated, the sides will carry the names of the known women agents, numbering 75. The face of the marble column will have affixed a blue glass mosaic disc depicting a white dove flying beneath a full moon. Many of the villagers young and old, have joined together to craft the mosaic insert. The sides of the granite plinth will also honour the men and women of the two special duties squadrons stationed at RAF Tempsford and those of the secret services of the allied nations who gave up their lives in the clandestine struggle for freedom and liberty. The monument was unveiled by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, on 3rd December 2013. In attendance was HM the Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, a number of dignitaries (including Ambassadors and Delegates from the twelve countries that represented the various nationalities of the women agents) and veterans and relatives of the SOE agents and airmen of the two Special Duties Squadrons based at RAF Tempsford through the war. The Prince attended a Service of Remembrance in St Peter's Church before unveiling the monument and also affixing a final piece into the mosaic disc of the flying dove and moon. He then met all the children who had helped in crafting the mosaic, also the gathered villagers, before going into The Wheatsheaf pub to share a beer with the veterans and relatives gathered there. A Lysander aircraft flying the colours of 161 SD Squadron, based at the Shuttleworth Collection in Old Warden, made a magnificent flypast during the unveiling. The Tempsford Memorial Trust are still developing the Memorial site. If you would like to contribute to the funding, or leave a comment, please go to the 'How To Donate & Contact Us' page.