Stone placed to mark site of Yorkshire army camp visited by Churchill

Gordon Clitheroe, of the Friends of Castle Camp Pickering group which has raised money for a commemorative stone to be placed at the camp's original entrance.  Picture: Richard Ponter 144523b
Gordon Clitheroe, of the Friends of Castle Camp Pickering group which has raised money for a commemorative stone to be placed at the camp's original entrance. Picture: Richard Ponter 144523b
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A forgotten wartime army camp where Winston Churchill visited and where thousands of soldiers were stationed has been marked with a commemorative stone.

Castle Camp Pickering in North Yorkshire was operational from 1940 to 1967 when it was demolished and replaced by housing.

No sign of the site’s military past remained until the Friends Of Castle Camp raised the money for the stone to mark the original entrance.

The ceremony, attended by about 150 people, honoured the countless soldiers who trained, and in some cases, died there and on the nearby North York Moors.

The stone was unveiled by 92-year-old Jack Lawson who trained at the camp during the Second World War and is the oldest known soldier to have served there.

Churchill visited Pickering Camp on March 31, 1944 ahead of D-Day and was photographed on top of a tank on the outskirts of the site.

Artist Rex Whistler painted many murals in the town while serving with the Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion Welsh Guards. He was killed in action in Normandy in July 1944, aged 39.

Gordon Clitheroe, of the Friends of Castle Camp, Pickering, said: “The stone will record the existence of this key training camp built at the start of WW2, and will honour the thousands of soldiers who passed through its gates during and after the war, until its closure in 1967.

“They lived and trained here, and on the nearby North Yorkshire Moors and it is important that is commemorated.”

Jim Woods, a former Scots Guardsman who served at Castle Camp from 1953 to 1954, met his wife Phyllis who was a member of the NAAFI staff there.

They will celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary later this year.

Mr Woods said: “It was a marvellous day all round - we were expecting rain but even that didn’t spoil the event.

“It went very well and it’s fantastic that the camp is now remembered.”