A sign of daring times - bombardier’s son makes generous donation to the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, near Diss
PUBLISHED: 13:57 05 March 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34 05 March 2017
His father once flew with the “Bloody Hundredth” on bombing missions over Nazi Germany.
And now Thomas Williams, from Virginia, has made a generous donation to a group dedicated to preserving the memory of his father’s former Norfolk airbase.
And part of Mr Williams’ $US3,000 - £2,440 - grant has been used to fund a new welcome sign for the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum.
Mr Williams, 72, and his son Andy visited the site at the former RAF Thorpe Abbotts airbase near Diss yesterday (Saturday, March 4) to unveil the sign.
He said: “I thought if there’s anything I can do to help memorialise my father and make this museum better, I want to do it. The sacrifices made by the people of Britain, the United States and all of the free world during the Second World War should never be forgotten.”
Mr Williams is himself a former navy pilot. He said the museum, which was founded in 1977 and is housed in the bases’ former control tower, was of the same quality you would find at the Smithsonian in the US.
He said: “The tower is Smithsonian in its nature - it’s that good. And it’s all run by volunteers who cherish and respect history. I think the British are better at that than anyone else in the world”.
Mr Williams’ father, also named Thomas Williams, was the bombardier on a B-17 dubbed Yo Yo Buddy. It was part of the air group known as the Bloody Hundredth because of the heavy losses it took.
Thousands of people were stationed at Thorpe Abbotts in 1944 and 1945, but the runways have long since reverted to farming use and only a few buildings remain.
Ronald Batley, the museum’s curator, said he was delighted with Mr William’s donation.
He said: “Our old sign was 25 years or more old, so we needed a new one.”
Mr Batley said the museum was place of pilgrimage for former servicemen and their descendants.
He said: “We do get people like Thomas come and visit us now and then. Sometimes they contact us before they come, sometime they just turn up.”
It was announced last month that the Bloody Hundredth is to feature in a new Second World War drama produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for HBO, to be called Masters of the Air.