Commemorative stone unveiled at forgotten former Yorkshire war camp

A forgotten wartime army camp in North Yorkshire where Winston Churchill visited and where thousands of soldiers were stationed is being remembered with a service today.

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

Castle Camp Pickering 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 a commemorative stone which will mark the original entrance.

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It will honour the countless soldiers who trained, and in some cases, died there and on the nearby North York Moors.

A dedication ceremony will be held at 11am, with the stone 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 the Second World War, 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: “Being so close to the North York Moors, Pickering Camp was an ideal base for military training.

“The camp played a big part in the life of the town itself and given the NAAFI there is where I met my wife, it has played a big part in my life too.”