US airforce in Norfolk during war to be celebrated in community project

A major community project celebrating the US presence in East Anglia during the Second World War has been awarded a development grant of �14,500 from The Heritage Lottery Fund.

US soldiers were occasionally dubbed 'oversexed, overpaid and over here' during the war but the Eighth US Army Air Force based in the eastern region made an enormous contribution to final victory and their sacrifice is set to be remembered.

As part of the project, people living close to one of the 67 wartime airfields will be asked to record oral histories, map each airbase and put together events to celebrate the three years the US air force was based in the eastern counties.

BBC programme-maker Nick Patrick, who is involved in the project, said: 'It's almost shameful that, were it not for a handful of dedicated volunteers and museum professionals, this history has almost been allowed to die. We feel that it's as important to the East of England as Boudica, Bunyan or Benjamin Britten.'

A three-year programme of research, interpretation and events are set to be rolled out across the East of England later this year. The project is a cross-regional partnership involving museums from across the East of England, the Norfolk Record Office, UEA, the Second Air Division Memorial Library and a new social enterprise company from Suffolk, New Heritage Solutions started by the Artistic Director of Eastern Angles Theatre Company, Ivan Cutting, and Mr Patrick.


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Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: 'The presence of the 8th United States Air Army Force during the Second World War has left a huge legacy on communities and landscape across the East of England. Part of the strength of this project lies in the partnership of organisations that will be working together to unearth this history, whether it be through exploring the landscape or collecting the stories of those who experienced the 'friendly invasion', ensuring this fascinating story can be passed on to future generations.'

A meeting of all interested parties will be held at the 95th Bomb Group Museum at Horham near Eye in Suffolk on Sunday, February 26.

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What have you done to keep alive the memory of the US contribution to the war effort in East Anglia? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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