**Baripada (Mayurbhanj: ** Like every year, humble homage was accorded to the martyred 14 brave airmen at the historic Amarda Road Air Strip at Rasgovindpur in this tribal-dominated district on Wednesday where wreaths were laid for each of the war heroes by the locals, intelligentsia and school children.
The memorial service was held on the day from 10 to 11 am.
Pertinent to note that, the sky of Odisha had been a witness to the crash of two giant aircrafts during the Second World War.
The collision had resulted in the deaths of 14 airmen in the air crash.
Notably on July 26, 1945, two British Royal Air Force (RAF) B-24 Liberator four-engine bombers, EW225 and EW247, collided at low altitude.
The aircrafts were based at the secret Amarda Road airfield and were part of a six-plane contingent from the Air Fighting Training Unit engaged in a formation flying exercise.
While the fourteen airmen belonged to Britain, Netherlands, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand, one was an Indian.
Kudos to the discovery made by Anil Dhir in 2011.
Since then, a memorial service is held for the martyrs every year at the airstrip on July 26.
In his media reactions, discoverer Anil Dhir said, “The Rasgovindpur Airstrip, as it is known today, has a short but secret illustrious history which has never been made public.”
“It had the longest runway in Asia, more than 2.5 kms long. The total runways, taxiways, aprons etc were more than 60 kms. The Amarda Road airstrip, as it was called in war terminology, spreads across an area of nearly 800 acres. Built in the 1940’s at a cost of Rs 3 crore it was eventually abandoned after the war. It was named as the Amarda Road Airfield due to the nearby Amarda Road Railway Station,” Dhir informed.
He further informed that the sacred soil is 28 kms away from Mayurbhanj district headquarters town of Baripada, 23 kms from Jaleswar, 38 kms from Balasore and 9 kms from the Amarda Road Railway Station, very near to the Mahatma Gandhi Eye Hospital at Rangamatia village.
As an airfield, Amarda Road fell on the supply route for the Nationalist Armies of China in their fight against the Japanese. Aircraft of the RAF and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) would regularly fly from this space to China via Chabua (Dibrugarh), Jorhat and Vijaynagar across the infamous hump route over Arunachal and East Tibet, as per the Wikipedia.