Up at Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome the heritage-listed Bellman Hangar has been restored. The main structures have been dismantled, sand-blasted and put back in their original place, piece by piece, bolt by bolt. All except 1,100 of them.
Those 1,100 bolts have been kept aside as memorial to each man who trained at the aerodrome and lost their lives in WW2.
The Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome was first used as an airfield in 1936. It housed the Empire Air Training School from 1938 onwards and during the Second World War was upgraded to No.1 Bombing and Gunnery School. During this time the aerodrome supported 3 asphalt runways and one grass runway. There were bombing and gunnery ranges to the north and south of the aerodrome and the site covered over 1500 square kilometres.
Each of the 1,100 bolts will take its place in this star; thread side up, facing the weather and the future as memorial to each of the men.
The facility trained more than 5000 men and many of these were the youngest recruits accepted into the forces. Large numbers of them were posted to RAF Squadrons, many to Bomber Command which suffered high casualty rates. Over 1000 of those who trained here during the war were subsequently killed in action.
So Richard Evans and his museum cohorts are using those 1100 bolts to form a Southern-cross star, 5 metres by 5 metres. Each bolt will take its place in this star; thread side up, facing the weather and the future as memorial to each of the men.
Read more about the hangar restoration on the Valley Watchdog blog.