Each day this week the Heritage Journal is asking English Heritage for transparency in relation to their management of Stonehenge. Today, we ask English Heritage why self-promotion and commercial enterprise is put ahead of the monuments in their care?
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When the monument known as Airman’s Cross was being extracted from Airman’s Corner in June 2012, prior to its move nearby to a pedestrian route between the Stonehenge Visitor Centre and visitor car park, its companion plaque was also excavated. It stated: Airman’s Cross Re-dedicated 5 July 1996 to the memory of Captain Eustace Broke Loraine Grenadier Guards and Staff Sergeant Richard Hubert Victor Wilson Royal Engineers. The first members of the Royal Flying Corp to lose their lives whilst flying on duty. Plaque laid by the Friends of the Museum of Army Flying Middle Wallop’. Last sighted, this plaque was languishing in the corner of a contractor’s site building. Instead a new plaque has been installed in front of the Airmans Cross (circled red in accompanying image). Etched into a finish reminiscent of a tacky kitchen worktop from a budget DIY store, the opening lines state:
AIRMAN’S CROSS
REDEDICATED 1 MAY 2014
TO MARK ITS ACQUISITION
BY ENGLISH HERITAGE…
To cap this, an electrical hook-up installed beyond the edge of the car park enables another EH ‘acquisition’, an ice cream van in outlandish EH livery, to be parked close by throughout the summer.
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Stonehenge Cross.

(In answer to several enquiries, yes these are genuine photographs!)

(In answer to several enquiries, yes these are genuine photographs!)

The public can be forgiven for thinking this solemn monument was cherished in memory of the airmen who lost their lives on 5 July 1912, the Friends of the Museum of Army Flying have similarly no doubt trusted the monument and their plaque would be treated with continuing dignity. We can’t imagine what anyone including Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Countess of Wessex, in whose presence the Airman’s Cross was rededicated, will think of EH’s actions? We today can only put ourselves in the place of the comrades that, in raising the memorial cross to these brave airmen, would scarcely believe that future generations could mete out such shameful treatment. When will a dignified dedication and setting be restored EH?

If you have a question you would like English Heritage to answer about their management of Stonehenge, send it in to the Journal, if publishable we will see what we can do!

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For other questions put Stonehenge Questions in our search bar.

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Thank you to The Heritage Journal for releasing this news about the Airmans Cross at Stonehenge. Staff Sergeant Wilson was my Great Uncle and I am very proud of his achievements as a flying pioneer. When the Cross was removed from Airmans Corner to necessitate the new road, English Heritage kept in constant touch with me via emails and pictures to let me know what was happening with the Cross. I was therefore very disappointed when I attended the Rededication Ceremony at Stonehenge to find that there was a new plaque and nobody could throw any light on the whereabouts of the old one. It was AVM Barry Newton who originally designed it and was responsible for it being made by the Friends of the Museum of Army Flying. I am very proud to see the new Cross in place at The Visitors Centre where it can be seen by everyone and I hope that the Museum of Army Flying will now find a permanent place for the plaque in their collection along with the flying helmet and pilot’s licence belonging to Staff Sergeant Wilson.
Stephanie Thomas


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