Ridgewell pub revisits wartime life

D-Day Celebration at the Kings Head in Ridgewell.                             Picture: Ben Carmichael
D-Day Celebration at the Kings Head in Ridgewell. Picture: Ben Carmichael

The rich World War Two history of Ridgewell was evoked on Saturday when the Kings Head pub staged a D-Day celebration - 71 years to the day since the famous chapter of history took place.

The special day was inspired by the role Ridgewell played in WWII, when it had an airbase that hosted English and US crews, including the US 381st Bomb Group.

King’s Head licensee, Dawn Brailsford, asked staff and customers to turn up in clothing worn during WWII - among them was Alan Steel, who runs the airbase museum in Ridgewell and took along a WWII Jeep.

Back in WWII the Kings Head also had an area nicknamed Stage Door Canteen by air crews who drank there - named after the establishments set up by The American Theatre Wing -to provide free dancing, food and drinks, and even the chance to meet film and theatre stars.

One of the B17 bombers in the 381st was also named Stage Door Canteen.

The pub was decorated circa WWII, with taped up windows etc, memorabilia like gas masks and Bren guns were on show, food similar to that eaten at the time was served and entertainment was provided by a swing band, Selion Swing.

Mrs Brailsford said: “We wer probably four to five deep at the bar. It was very busy but it was great because everyone enjoyed it and everyone had a good time.

“Because it went so well and because we’ve had so many requests, we are going to do it again next year.”