ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Many South Georgians are unaware of Albany connection to the British military, but in the 1940s, it was very important.
During World War II, in 1941 and 1942 over 5,000 British cadets trained in aerial combat at Albany's two airfields, Darr Aero Tech [the current site of Albany's airport] and Turner Field. The later became Turner Air Force Base, with one of the longest and best runways in the world, home to B-52s of the Strategic Air Command, and then became Naval Air Station Albany, which hosted the North American A-5 Vigilante supersonic bomber.
Seven Brits perished in training accidents, and were buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.
A granite memorial and RAF flag were later added through the generous support of the local community.
Last week, the Royal Air Force Albany Committee handed over management of their collection, and these managed sites, to the Thronateeska Heritage Center.
"The RAF Albany Committee was formed in 1991 to host several reunions of the British trainees and to monitor and maintain the three British memorial sites [in town]" said Bob Drake, unofficial chair for the committee. "The RAF Albany Committee is very grateful to Thronateeska for assuming these functions, so that this colorful period of Albany's history will be permanently remembered."
Several collection items can be viewed at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, Crown Hill Cemetery, the entrance to the Miller Coors Plant at the intersection of Turner Field Road and Clark Ave. and in front of the Government Center.
Other items in the collection can be viewed during weekly open research hours at the South Georgia Archives at Thronateeska Heritage Center on Thursdays and Fridays from 1-5 p.m., or by appointment.
Contributions in support of the collection can be made directly to Thronateeska Heritage Center. A memo should be included requesting that donations specifically support the RAF collection. Phone:(229) 432-6955.
(with information from the Thronateeska Heritage Center)