Triple treat at Thorpe Abbotts

It is a spe­cial year for the 100th Bomb Group Mu­seum, cel­e­brat­ing not one but three an­niver­saries

EDP Norfolk - - History - If you’d like to share your mem­o­ries email 100bgmm@tis­ or call 01379 740708

THINGS COME in threes, the say­ing has it, and for the 100th Bomb Group mu­seum near Diss that is a tru­ism this year. The Thorpe Abbotts mu­seum, which com­mem­o­rates the Amer­i­can fliers who op­er­ated from the air­field there in the sec­ond world war, cel­e­brates it’s 40th an­niver­sary this year. Ad­di­tion­ally it is 75 years since the first B-17 bombers ar­rived at the base and it is also the 25th birth­day of the 100th Air Re­fu­elling Wing, based at RAF Milden­hall.

Cel­e­bra­tions for the an­niver­saries will be re­spect­fully low-key; the vol­un­teers at the im­mac­u­late col­lec­tion of Nis­sen huts and the con­trol tower will be mark­ing the oc­ca­sion in an ap­pro­pri­ate way, with plans to in­vite a small group of re-en­ac­tors to join them for Re­mem­ber­ing the

Past on Sun­day, Septem­ber 3, the date that war was de­clared with Ger­many by Neville Cham­ber­lain in 1939. They hope to see some of the fam­i­lies of veter­ans sta­tioned at the base, though as the crews them­selves are now in their 80s and 90s, they are not ex­pect­ing many of them this time.

They will also be invit­ing the 100th ARW to come along an put on a dis­play in the sum­mer as well, and they are hop­ing to use the an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions to record more mem­o­ries of the for­mer air­base from lo­cal peo­ple to add to the stock they have.

The mu­seum pro­duced a DVD sev­eral years ago fea­tur­ing lo­cals re­call­ing the days when the now quiet fields around the vil­lages were throb­bing with the sound of the heavy bombers and the busy ac­tiv­i­ties of thou­sands of US air­men and they think peo­ple have more to tell them.

“We want to get peo­ple to talk about their ex­pe­ri­ences, peo­ple in the lo­cal­ity who were young­sters in the war,” said cu­ra­tor Ron­ald Bat­ley. “We’d love then to share their mem­o­ries of the war.”

Vol­un­teer Carol Bat­ley added that they were also in­ter­ested in hear­ing about life in the camps af­ter the war; once the crews had left the hun­dreds of huts were used for tem­po­rary hous­ing for up to 50 fam­i­lies many years. “We learned to ride our bikes on the con­crete run­ways of the air­field,” re­called Carol, who lived in one of the huts in the early 60s. “Ev­ery­thing ran with con­den­sa­tion. The walls were just con­crete pan­els and in win­ter ev­ery­thing was frozen!

“But we did have baths, run­ning wa­ter and elec­tric­ity at a time when a lot of homes in vil­lages were with­out baths and had to go to the pump or a well for wa­ter – there was no elec­tric­ity for many un­til the 1950s. We think lots of peo­ple will have mem­o­ries and photos of life in the huts and hope they can share them with us.”

The group also hope the an­niver­saries will gen­er­ate in­ter­est from younger peo­ple want­ing to learn more about the men and women who helped de­feat Hitler. “We don’t get so many young­sters through,” said vol­un­teer John Deller. “If it hadn’t been for these peo­ple we wouldn’t be here talk­ing about it.”

Pic­ture:Cour­tesy­ofthe100thBom­bGrouparchive 100th Bomb Carol Group Bat­ley, vol­un­teers Ron­ald (from Bat­ley and left) J Max Whee Squadron Gale Lead­ers ‘Buck’ John Cleven ‘Bucky’ Egan, lef of the 100th Bomb Gr

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