WAR TIME REMEMBERED : The Lenham Cross
The Lenham Cross, with thanks to Jeremy Ault for providing the photo©
Cecil Groom, the local headmaster at the time, had taught many of of the young men who lost their lives and it was he who had the idea of the memorial. From his home in Old Ashford Road he had a perfect view onto the hillside where he marked out the shape. He noticed that the shape of the cross was distorted when viewed from the distance and he made the shaft of the cross wider at the top.A memorial stone was laid at the base and recorded the names of the 42 Lenham villagers who died in the war.
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The Lenham Cross, a war memorial cut into the chalk of the Kent Downs, commemorates the men of Lenham who gave their lives in two world wars fighting for the freedom of this country. Their names are remembered on a granite monument in front of the church.
The Unveiling of the War Memorial in 1922
Little did Headmaster Groom know that another war was not far off, and again young men from Lenham served their country. During WWII the cross was covered with soil in order to avoid giving enemy aircraft a navigation landmark. Instead, a dummy airfield was built on Pivington Farm with proper runways and cardboard aeroplanes to distract enemy attention away from Detling Airfield. The dummy airfield was never attacked (unlike Detling , see Gladys' story). At the end of WWII another stone was laid at the cross recording the names of 14 killed in the war. Every Armistice Day the villagers made their way up to the hill with the choir and a harmonium. However, when the relatives of those killed grew older and found it difficult to make their way up the hill, the stones were moved to the church, where they still are today. The cross is a grade II listed monument and is cared for by the people of Lenham.
WORLD WAR II
Lenham's Decoy Airfield
Driving up Hubbards Hill from Lenham there is little which gives away that there was once a decoy airfield. Some of the old concrete tracks and runways are still in place and a decoy building which has been converted into a home. The wooden planes were stored for many years after the war in the disused buildings but were eventually burned.
The decoy airfield was built in 1940 after the devastating attack on Detling air base on August 13th 1940. The attack cost the life of 67 personel and 94 people were injured.
The decoy airfield in Lenham was never attacked.