Tributes paid to farmer and WW2 museum curator
- Credit: Deborah McNeill
Tributes have been paid to a farmer and WW2 museum curator, whose work has helped to ensure the sacrifices of those fallen are never forgotten.
Dave Sarson, of Hillside Farm, Market Weston, died on June 20, following a recent cancer diagnosis at the age of 61.
Mr Sarson lived and worked his whole life on his family farm, but he was also well-known for curating a small museum, in memory of the 388th Bomb Group based at RAF Knettishall.
His interest in WW2 started with his father Bernard Sarson’s service in the RAF Regiment. It then extended to the involvement of the Americans, B-17’s and the 388th Bomb Group in particular.
As a boy, Mr Sarson and his friend Barry Green would cycle to the 388th's former airbase, where they discovered various items.
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Over the years, he collected memorabilia from the airfield, car boots, auctions and various other places until eventually there was enough to display.
The 388th Collection was first opened in 1993 and over the nearly 30 years since has welcomed many veterans and their families.
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The bomb group flew 314 missions in B-17s from RAF Knettishall between July 1943 and May 1945, losing over 200 aircraft to enemy action and with over 500 personnel killed in action.
The base was disbanded after the war with the majority of buildings sold and the land returned mostly to agricultural use. A Nissen hut bought for the farm now houses the collection.
Mr Sarson was also a member of the 388th Memorial Committee, which has looked after the memorial at Coney Weston on behalf of the 388th Association since it was first installed in 1987.
But as well as his love for his farm and museum, Mr Sarson was a proud father to Alastair Sarson, 23, and had a close relationship with his older sister Alison and her husband Dave Tunbridge.
His ex-wife and long-time friend, Deborah McNeill, said: “Dave was one of my best mates. We didn’t always agree with each other but we were always there for each other through thick and thin.
“It was my privilege to be there to help look after him over his last six months. He has left a big hole in my life.
“With his passing, we have lost a huge resource of information about the 388th which will be greatly missed by all."
His son Alastair added: “Dad had a generosity of spirit and would take the shirt off his back to help a mate.
“I was incredibly proud of the knowledge he had built up over many dedicated years and I know the men of the 388th highly valued his contribution to ensuring the memory of their sacrifices are never forgotten. I intend to continue his legacy to the best of my ability.”
A memorial service is being held on Thursday July 22 at 2pm outside at Hillside Farm, Market Weston.