Newlyweds remember grandfather, who was a member of USAAF 466th Bombardment Group, at Attlebridge Airfield
An American pilot, honeymooning in Britain with his new wife, had a poignant reminder yesterday of his grandfather's gallant past after visiting a former Norfolk airbase from where he helped fly a successful bombing mission 68 years ago.
Pilot Brian Miller and his new wife Amber, both 24, of Atlanta, Georgia, were married underneath a vintage Douglas DC-3 aeroplane at the Delta Airlines original maintenance hangar, at Atlanta International Airport, on Saturday.
Brian's grandfather, William Summerlin, died in August last year aged 88.
He grew up in Atlanta and during the second world war he was a flight engineer and top turret gunner in United States Army Air Forces' 466th Bombardment Group.
Mr Summerlin flew 30 bombing missions from Attlebridge Airfield, near Weston Longville, between March 23 and June 24 1944.
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This achievement earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross award.
He completed the missions to France, Germany and Belgium in B-24 Liberator bombers.
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The newlyweds decided to honeymoon in London so they could visit the airfield, which was built about 1939 and sold for �9,000 in 1959 to Bernard Matthews for his turkey business.
Brian, who flies commercial planes, said: 'I didn't figure out much about his history until a few years ago. He didn't talk much about it to me but talked about it with my dad. He was extremely humble about it. It made me feel proud to know my own grandfather was heroic and integral in this part of history. Being a pilot, it strengthened the bond I had with him.'
On March 27, 1944, William was involved in a mission to Biarritz in France, so Brian and Amber decided to incorporate a visit to Attlebridge Airfield, organised by the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust (ABCT), to mark the occasion.
They were shown around areas which used to house the hospital and communal facilities, including a cinema, for American GIs and the control tower.
Amber said: 'I'm amazed at the space that the airbase covered.'
Her husband added: 'It feels really surreal. You can imagine the planes coming in crippled and destroyed and now all you can hear is birds.
'It feels like he is here looking down on us. This was such a huge part of his life and had he not been so lucky I would not be here today. To see first hand where he was and what he did makes me feel so happy and proud.'
As well as seeing different parts of the former base, Brian and Amber visited a plaque which was put up in 1992 in memory of 466th Bombardment Group.
Kenneth Bannerman, founder of the ABCT, said: 'We were delighted to assist the Millers. We exist to make sure these historic places, and the people who served at them, are never forgotten.'
The B-24 Liberators carried out 231 missions between March 1944 and April 1945.
Each aircraft would have 10 men inside and between 1944 and 1945 there were 3,000 GIs on the base.