On Sunday (2 September), the 2018 Biker Veterans Three Counties Ride of Remembrance tour party was led into the former Waterbeach barracks by Reg Manning (89), with his partner Elaine, on a vintage Ariel Despatch rider’s motorcycle and side car. Their arrival marked the end of the tour’s 530mile road trip over eight days, which saw them visit 10 military museums and commemorate war graves of seven serviceman who were known to be motorcyclists killed in action or as a result of motorbike accidents during active service.
As well as visiting the Waterbeach Military Heritage Museum, the tour party carried out an act of remembrance and laid wreaths at the Memorial Garden, which was attended by Museum volunteers, local veterans from the Royal British Legion and eight former servicemen who had served time at Waterbeach. Two of the servicemen had driven all the way from Blackpool to be part of the last day of the tour.
Owen Stephen Roberts, another serviceman who had served at Waterbeach and had been part of the original Tour Party, was represented by his sister Ceri having lost a brief but brave battle with cancer earlier this year.
Paul Martin, armed forces veteran and tour organiser, said: “I served at Waterbeach and it was very poignant being back at the station, reminiscing with other veterans who had served there and remembering fellow bikers and friends who have lost their lives. We’d like to thank everyone who supported us during the tour and helped us raise over £2,000 for the Biker Veterans’ nominated charities, Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion.”
Towards the end of the visit a second act of remembrance was carried out at Waterbeach village cemetery at the graveside of Ronald Kerr, an RAF serviceman who lost his life in a motorcycle accident in 1959, aged just 19 years old. The Biker Veterans laid a small poppy posy and a plaque commemorating their visit to his grave.
Rebecca Britton, Communities and Partnerships for Urban&Civic, said: “The former Waterbeach barracks and airfield played an important role in the lives of the many military personnel that served here, and they also played a crucial role in keeping us safe. The history of the site through the centuries – as well as some of the individual stories of people who served here – will be echoed through the future development to ensure it continues to be told to future generations. The Memorial Garden and the Military Heritage Museum are a huge part of that, and we are working up heritage trails, displays, wayfinding and public art which connect historic locations and engage people in the rich history here.”
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