Help honour these brave airmen

PUBLISHED: 16:43 06 June 2014 | UPDATED: 16:43 06 June 2014

Lord Dannatt unveils a plaque in memory of 2nd Lt. L

Lord Dannatt unveils a plaque in memory of 2nd Lt. L "Pete" Hughes at the 389th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, Hethel. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Archant Norfolk.

This is a museum which just gets bigger and better as the years go by. One run by dedicated volunteers, which opens the doors on a slice of Norfolk history when parts of the county were turned into Little America.

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How appropriate that at a time when our veterans return to Normandy to remember the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the 389th Bomb Group Memorial at Hethel holds its annual gala day this weekend.

On Sunday there is a chance to admire the ever-increasing display of new items on show – and these now include a collection of objects from the First World War, many of which were recovered from the battlefields of Northern France.

They range from German schnapps bottles and an 18-pounder brass shell to an officer’s whistle and barbed wire cutters. Some, like a German helmet and a semi-automatic rifle, can be handled by visitors.

But it is the story of the Americans in Norfolk during the Second World War which what Hethel is all about and it remembers a time when thousands of young airmen arrived to help us win the war – so many of them were never to return home.

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They lost their lives in the fight for freedom.

The original museum buildings with the former base chapel hold a wealth of material relating to the 389th Bomb Group of the United States Eighth Air Force and in April this year a new Nissen hut was opened by General the Lord Richard Dannatt, former head of the British Army.

The new hut contains previously unseen displays, among them an impressive range of both US and RAF uniforms, as well as fascinating memorabilia, not only from the 389th, but also the 466th Bomb group, which was based at Attlebridge during the Second World War.

The hut is dedicated to 2nd Lt. Lloyd H “Pete” Hughes who lost his life on a mission to bomb oilfields in Romania in 1943. He was aged 22. His display includes his Purple Heart and Medal of Honor.

So, why not go along on Sunday between 10am and 4pm, and take a look for yourself? We should cherish museums such as the one at Hethel which we have... thanks to the volunteers who spend so much time and effort making sure this important part of our history is never forgotten.

There will also be various stalls, a display of military and classic cars along with refreshments and a barbecue.

For more information contact Fred Squires on 01953 798774

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