Eye’s hope for memorial to honour American bomber group who fought in the Second World War

B-17 bomber flying over Eye Airfield

B-17 bomber flying over Eye Airfield - Credit: Archant

Little over 70 years ago, a corner of Suffolk found itself at the forefront of the battle against Nazi Germany. This week, a bid to create a permanent tribute to the contribution made by the men of Eye airfield could move a step closer.

During the two years their unit was based at Eye airfield, near Diss, 237 men of the 490th Bomb Group took off from its runways never to return.

In that time, the base and its aircraft and airmen dealt telling blows to the Nazi war effort, during the course of countless bombing raids over enemy territory.

The United States Army Air Force site grew to such an extent that, at its peak, up to 10,000 personnel called it home.

For the last two years, a local group has been working to establish a fitting tribute to the role played by those men.

And this week, their vision could move much nearer to becoming reality.

The 490th Bomb Group Memorial Project is confident its bid to build a memorial, which will be dedicated to those who served and the people of Eye who befriended them, will be passed at Mid Suffolk District Council's planning meeting on Wednesday.

Most Read

If it gets the go-ahead work will start straight away on an area of land off Progress Way, which will include the black granite monument, benches and flagpoles for the Stars and Stripes and Union Flag.

The group has received funding from the families of the 490th veterans, businesses at the Mid Suffolk Business Park and grants.

Jackie Aling, member of the project team, said: 'It is about time there is a memorial for them. They'll be forgotten if we don't do something. We need to recognise what they did. These young men risked and lost their lives for us.

'It's been endless work getting the memorial sorted. But everyone has been very positive.'

Bob Kopp, 91, from Minnesota, who was a navigator in the 490th

Bomb Group, said: 'I can scarcely believe it that those folks in that small town would go to all the work and expense to make such a memorial.

'I was most impressed by the kind way you Brits accepted these brash American invaders of your homeland during that unhappy time.'

If the project proceeds as planned, the memorial will be officially opened on May 29, in a ceremony to be attended by American veterans, their families and personnel from RAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath.

The group hopes to create a heritage trail through the airfield linking to the memorial in the future.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter