Rasgovindpur: A memorial service was held at Rasgovindpur Airstrip in Odisha on Saturday for the 14 airmen who died in a crash here on this day in July 1945.
War historian Anil Dhir, some locals and school children paid homage with wreaths laid in memory of the dead airmen who have been forgotten as no details of the activities that happened here between 1943 and 1945 exist.
Very few people know that the skies of Odisha had seen the crash of two aircraft - British Royal Air Force B-24 Liberator four-engine bombers - EW225 and EW247 - at low altitude resulting in death of 14 airmen, Dhir said.
The aircraft based at the Amarda Road airfield were part of a six-plane contingent from Air Fighting Training Unit engaged in a formation flying exercise, he said.
Rasgovindpur Airstrip has an illustrious history hitherto unknown to public. It had the longest runway in Asia which was more than 3.5 km, Dhir claimed.
However, the runway is now lying mostly vacant with a few cows grazing and one would find it difficult to associate the Airport with activities relating to defence of India during 2nd World War, Dhir said adding the station came into existence during the war as a forward airfield against Japanese conquest of Burma. The large strip served its purpose as a landing ground for planes and also as a training space for special bombing missions.
The Amarda Road airstrip, as it was called in war terminology, spreads across an area of nearly 900 acres. Built in 1940`s at a cost of Rs 3 Crore, it was finally abandoned after the war. It was probably named as Amarda Road Airfield due to the nearby Amarda Road railway station, he said.