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  #1  
Old 18th May 2014
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Default 8th Air Force memorials in the UK

The area of England in which I live (East Anglia) is dotted with dozens of WW2 air bases, most of which were occupied by the 8th US Army Air Force. A very few are still RAF stations; a couple (RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath) are still home to the USAF. Most have been returned to farmland; the old concrete runways and hardstandings used as foundations for poultry sheds; and some have been turned into industrial estates. Some have original buildings still standing. So much concrete was poured that it's not possible (or not economically viable) to remove it. One company that I worked for was based on what had been part of one of these airfields. In the steel yard, you could still make out dates, names and home towns scraped into the concrete by the US servicemen that laid it. Most, if not all, of the bases have memorials to the units that served there. At some bases, the original buildings have been turned into memorial museums.

The USAAF started arriving in 1942. By 1943, the east of England was home to more than 100,000 US airmen. The 8th Air Force - "The Mighty Eighth" - was the largest air striking force ever assembled.

So, my plan is, when I get the chance, to take pics of the memorials, and maybe parts of the runways or buildings; as a tribute to those who served, including the 30,000 Americans who died flying from the UK during WW2; and for the benefit of our American cousins on the forum, some of whom may well have had fathers or grandfathers who served over here.

This is something I've been meaning to do for some time, and today I finally made a start. I was going out for a test ride to tweak the suspension and jetting on my bike, so I slightly altered my usual test route to take in six of the old bases, all of which are within a ten mile radius of my home, which should give you some idea of the concentration of this "friendly invasion". After getting home and a quick jet change, I went out again and tagged another three. This time I had to ride further - about 15 miles!

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Old 18th May 2014
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I would enjoy that.
Served in the 13th AF (SEA) in the sixties.
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Old 19th May 2014
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Default Wendling - 392BG

Home of the 392nd Bombardment Group.




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Old 19th May 2014
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I'm subscribing to your thread. Thanks for doing the footwork and wheelwork to bring it to all who may be interested. Hats off to you!
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Old 19th May 2014
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Default North Pickenham -

Home of the 492nd Bombardment Group and the 491st Bombardment Group.
This was one of the last of the 66 airfields to be built in Britain for the 8th Air Force.


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Old 19th May 2014
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Default Bodney

Home of the 352nd Fighter Group - the "Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney". Some of the "Little Friends" that escorted the bombers.

The memorial is at the gate of a British Army camp that now occupies the site, which is located within the Thetford Battle Area, a large tract of land that was taken over by the military during the war for troop training (including my father!).


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Old 19th May 2014
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Default Watton

Home of the 25th Bombardment Group.

There is apparently a memorial to 25BG outside what was he old RAF officers' mess, but I couldn't find it today - I'll try again another time. Watton was until recently still an operational RAF station. It's being used for new housing, and much of the former base is a building site.

At the entrance to the estate is this memorial to the RAF, who were flying from the base before the arrival of the USAAF, and took it back after the Americans went home.

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Default Deopham Green

(pronounced Deef'm Green )
Home of the 452nd Bombardment Group.






Lining up on one of the old runways...


In the nearby village of Hingham (pronounced Hing'm, its name immortalised in the locally brewed "Hingham High" bitter ), there's another memorial to 452BG outside the church, alongside the memorial to local men killed during WW1. There are very few cities, towns or villages in the UK that don't have one of these crosses.




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Default Shipdham

Home of the 44th Bombardment Group.
This was the first base in Norfolk to be occupied by bombers.
The old airfield has partly been returned to agriculture, part turned into an industrial estate, and one of the runways is used by a local flying club. The memorial is situated outside the clubhouse.





American machinery once more lined up on the runway at Shipdham...

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Default Attlebridge

Home of the 466th Bombardment Group.






Propellors on one of the runways at Attlebridge, but now they're wind turbines. Most of the old site is now taken up with turkey sheds.

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