D Day War Memorial
The memorial is near the Selsey Arms public house in Coolham. It consists of a brick wall with three inset black granite panels with all lettering in gilt. The centre panel contains the dedication in English and Polish underneath the badge of the Royal Air Force. In June 2019 a further plaque was unveiled to commemorate the 15 young airmen – one Canadian, six British and eight Polish - who gave their lives while serving at Coolham airfield to support the D Day landings 75 years ago. The plaque shows photographs of the young men who died, the layout of the airfield and the location of the trees which were planted in their memory 25 years ago.
The site of a former Advanced Landing Ground, a temporary airfield built to support the D Day landings in 1944 and only used for a few months. Construction began in August 1943 and was complete by the beginning on March 1944. Coolham airfield was one of seven Advanced Landing Grounds which were built in Kent and Sussex in 1943 and 1944 to ensure air superiority during the greatest coastal invasion in history, as the Allied Forces landed in France on June the 6th 1944 to begin the task of freeing the oppressed nations of Europe from Hitler’s armies. The first mission was flown on April 26th. Missions were flown virtually every day during May and June. Activities on the Airfield were terminated on the 15th of July 1944. Altogether some 7 fighter squadrons were based at Coolham.
The Airfield has long since been reclaimed for agricultural purposes, but there is still a footpath around the field where you can view the 15 oak trees and the plaques of the 15 airmen who lost their lives. As Coolham is in the ancient parish of Shipley, which adjoins the A24, a short drive away takes you to the nearby ruin of Knepp Castle. The castle dates back to medieval times, and is said to have been a hunting lodge for King John at one time. The site of the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Shipley, dates back to the Knights Templar, and close by is Shipley Windmill, which was once owned by the Sussex writer Hilaire Belloc during the first half of the twentieth century. There was also once a prominant Quaker Community in Coolham, and the "Blue Idol" meeting house, a timber-framed building, still exists.