Preserving the Band of Brothers Appeal
On a sunny morning in September 1943 a soldier looked over the gate of Hightown in the centre of the village, and on looking at the Green leading up to the large stone Church raised above it, thought he must be on a Hollywood film set. This was the beginning of the stay of more than 800 men of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, young American paratroopers who had been posted to Aldbourne to train for landing on D-Day in June of 1944.
Their main camp was a group of Nissen huts on the village football field. In 2019 Operation Nightingale, an initiative to use field archaeology as therapy for military veterans damaged by modern conflicts, proposed an investigation of what might remain of the camp. The first dig in May 2019 brought so many interesting items to light that Operation Nightingale returned for further digs in 2022 and 2023, each of which proved very successful. As a result we are now custodians of around 800 artifacts relating to an extraordinary part of our village history. A part of our history which, thanks to the TV series “Band of Brothers” enjoys world-wide interest.
The 2019 dig being covered in the BBC programme Digging For Britain, 2022 was covered by History Hit TV and was also described by Richard Osgood OBE in his February 2023 talk to us (available on YouTube and Facebook) , and in 2023 by Time Team (free to watch on YouTube)
Many of the wonderful finds are on view in our local Heritage Centre including the handle of a reserve parachute, part of a parachute and two dog tags belonging to paratoopers of Able and Easy companies. Not to mention many examples of ammunition!
We are very grateful to Wiltshire Museum for the long-term loan of the artifacts recovered. To care for them properly involves cost. Many of the artifacts are ferrous, and corrode easily. To preserve them properly while they are on display, we need to purchase a new display case that is sealed, so that the artifacts are kept in an ultra-low humidity atmosphere. It will also allow us to display more of the artifacts. The display case will cost more than £5000. We also need to change other furniture in the centre to make room for the new display case and to provide ultra-low humidity storage facilities for those items not on display, both of which will involve further costs.
The total cost will be about £6,500 ($8,250), and we have received £1,800 in grants from our local authorities, over £500 in private donations and a promise of a further £1,600 from an American source. We therefore need to raise a further
If you would like to help us we would be very grateful.
You can donate either by using the button below, or by sending a cheque made out to “Aldbourne Community Heritage Group” to Treasuer, Aldbourne Heritage Centre, The Square, Aldbourne, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 2DU.
If we do raise more than is needed immediately it will be used to fund extra conservation work on the finds.