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Display of gratitude
Letters of thanks that were sent to Royal Wootton Bassett for the respect the town showed during repatriations have gone on display.
A catalogue of correspondence sent to the town council is part of an exhibition in Royal Wootton Bassett Library, which includes photographs of people paying their respects during repatriations, photographs of gifts the town received, war poetry and books.
Deputy mayor Linda Frost, who helped to put the exhibition together, said the display only includes about 20 per cent of the letters they received.
“We have a very large amount of letters at the town council offices,” she said.
“We feel it is a very important part of history. We found it very humbling to receive the gifts and letters. The people are just saying thank you for acting on their behalf. It is something which Bassett people did so automatically.”
The ‘We honour those who serve’ exhibition will be on display until the end of the month, but the letters and photographs will stay in the library afterwards.
Photographs from the repatriations have been provided by RAF Lyneham. Repatriations stopped going through the town last year after the decision to close RAF Lyneham. They have moved to RAF Brize Norton in Carterton, but Wootton Bassett was in the spotlight again in October 2011 when it was made ‘royal’ for the respect it showed to fallen servicemen.
At the Royal Wootton Bassett Remembrance Sunday ceremony last weekend, a wreath made up of 355 poppies was laid at the War Memorial, one dedicated to each of the fallen military personnel repatriated through the town.
Letters and memorabilia will be professionally archived soon, but the items will always be available for the public to see.
To see letters and memorabilia that have not been included in the exhibition, contact the town council by calling (01793) 850222, or visit the offices in the High Street.
Among the letters is one from Bob Hathaway, of the Clynderwen and district branch of the Royal British Legion.
In July 2009 he wrote: “Your actions express the feelings of the majority of British people and also give so much solace to their families.
“We salute you all and wish you well in your future endeavours.”