SOLDIERS, sailors and airmen gathered last week to bid farewell to decades of military activity in Beaconsfield as a landmark army site prepares for closure.

On Monday, September 9 a group of over 30 service and ex-servicemen gathered for the Flag Lowering ceremony at Wilton Park, home to the Defence School of Languages.

A selection of high ranking officers attended to pay homage to the end of rich period in Beaconsfield’s history at the site once used as a top secret interrogation centre.

Ranks present included one star Generals and a Rear Admiral, with dignitaries including Sandy Saunders, the mayor of Beaconsfield, previously a Naval officer.

HM forces have operated the Defence School of Languages in the area since the sixties, but the it is now being re-located to Shrivenham, with Wilton Park earmarked for a large-scale housing development.

The project, still in its early stages, could see up to 300 homes built on the park to the east of the old town, with a relief road to bypass London End also a possibility.

Prior to the military’s involvement, Wilton Park was a country house built by the Du Pre family in the late 18th century.

During the Second World War it was leased to the War Office and became a top secret base for senior prisoners of war, including high-ranking Nazi politicians such as Rudolf Hess.

After the war the army presence increased, with the language school opening and the country house being replaced with a large accommodation tower block.

At the ceremony, tributes were paid to the men and women who served at Wilton Park.

After the last post was sounded and the flag was folded, the mayor bade farewell to the site, saying: “Good fortune to the School and to him who is at the helm.”