Photo Gallery: Tributes paid to lost American second world war airmen at Henham Park

Tributes were today paid to American airmen who lost their lives in a second world war accident as a memorial was rededicated in their honour.

A total of 36 men died following a mid-air collision at Henham on March 29, 1944, and this morning the newly renovated black marble tribute was unveiled.

Representativesof RAF Mildenhall travelled to the Henham estate for the special service after Halesworth Lions had renovated the memorial.

Chaplin Phillip Kaim, of the base, led a brief dedication before members of the base's honour guard raised the Stars and Stripes.

Capt Kaim said the memorial paid tribute to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, but also reminded everyone of the unique friendship between Britain and the America.

'This is a small marker of that proud heritage that we share together as both nations strive for freedom throughout this vast world,' he said.

The American airmen died when there was a mid-air collision above Henham Park on Wednesday, March 29, 1944.

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Aircraft had gone out on a bombing mission to the St Nazaire U-boat pens, but two B24s from the 93rd Bomb group at Hardwick hit each other.

Only three of the 20 airmen survived but as rescuers worked on the wreckage there was an explosion that cost 19 more lives.

The memorial was first erected in 1994 after a bequest from an airman who had missed a flight on one of the ill-fated B24 Liberators, as well as money from the Earl of Stradbroke at that time.

However, Halesworth Lions, who hold a Wings and Wheels event on the estate, had noticed the memorial had fallen into a dilapidated state and volunteered to renovate it with help from local firms.

Lions' president Steve Harrowven said: 'We wanted to renovate it as it was in a sorry state and without the ultimate sacrifice of those brave young men we might not be here today.

'It is superb that all these people came out to respect them in a fitting tribute.'

Horses on the estate looked on with interest as more than 35 people joined together for the special service.

Hektor Rous, who runs the estate on behalf of his father the sixth Earl of Stradbroke, said: 'This memorial which has been beautifully restored by the Lions is a testament to the bravery of those who were many miles from their own homes defending this land in a shared common belief in liberty.

'I am honoured and very proud of this as a permanent memorial.'

He added that he has found metal on the estate from the crash.

Others at the rededication included John Levy, county standard bearer with Royal British Legion, the Rev Liz Cannon, vicar of Holton, and Michael Kendall, from The Halesworth (Holton) Airfield Museum, who was wearing a uniform from the USAAF 56th Fighter Group, who served at that airfield.

The group went on for lunch at the Triple Plea, at Holton, while the museum was also opened especially for the occasion.

For more on The Halesworth (Holton) Airfield Museum see the link at the top of the page and see tomorrow's EDP and Beccles and Bungay Journal.

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