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Old Buckenham Airfield submits plans to house collection of 453rd bomb group memorabilia

PUBLISHED: 10:01 04 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:01 04 February 2015

Nissen huts at Old Buckenham in 1943.

Nissen huts at Old Buckenham in 1943.

Archant

A new museum housing one of the world’s largest collections of bomb group memorabilia could be built at a Breckland airfield, if councillors give it the green light.

Proposed plans for Nissen huts at Old Buckenham airfield.Proposed plans for Nissen huts at Old Buckenham airfield.

Old Buckenham Airfield has submitted plans for two wartime Nissen huts to Breckland Council, in the hopes of transforming one into a tribute to airmen in the USAAF 453rd Bombardment group.

The structure, which would be funded by the airfield owners, would contain an extensive collection of artefacts donated by veterans and their relatives.

The bomb group was stationed in Old Buckenham during the war, with Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart as group operations manager.

Matt Wilkins, airfield manager, said: “We were given an unbelievable collection which includes everything you could think of, right down to buttons off uniforms.

World-famous craft to appear at airshow

They have enjoyed starring roles in Hollywood blockbusters – and will be the main attraction at an event much closer to home.

The Old Buckenham Airshow will welcome two of the world’s most

famous aircraft at this year’s show.

The Supermarine Spitfire MH434, which secured starring roles in A Bridge Too Far, the Longest Day, Hope and Glory and Battle of Britain, will be appearing at the show on August 1 and 2.

The Second World War plane is the only flying Spitfire to have never been fully restored.

The ‘Ferocious Frankie’, P-51D Mustang, will be joining its hangar mate at the show after roles in Saving Private Ryan and Empire of the Sun.

Matt Wilkins, airshow organiser, said: “Most Hollywood actors can only dream of the credits these two aircraft have earned and we’re delighted to be able to bring these icons from the big screen to the airshow.

“Everyone will have seen their performances at

the cinema, but nothing quite compares to watching them demonstrate the extraordinary performance and beauty that made

them instant icons 70 years ago.”

“It must be one of the largest collections of memorabilia dedicated to the 453rd group.

“But the only problem was that we didn’t know how to house them, so we applied for one which will hold them and another which will serve as a convenience facility during our airshows. It’s a very exciting time.”

The museum, which would be built to specifications of original huts, would be located next to the War Memorial Garden.

It is hoped that, if approved, the huts would be built in summer and could be opened on Remembrance Sunday, to coincide with a visit from veterans and relatives of the 453rd group to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

Mr Wilkins said that the airfield, which has become known for its well-attended airshow and military revival, has an “ongoing relationship” with veterans.

“We are always receiving visits from people who have got a connection or who were veterans from the States. We often see people whose father or grandfather was a part of it,” he said.

The decision on the plans will be made by Breckland Council.

Do you have an Old Buckenham story? Let us know by emailing lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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