93rd Bomb Group Museum (Norfolk)

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Ferrino
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93rd Bomb Group Museum (Norfolk)

Hi all from California. When the COVID dust has settled, my neighbour is hoping to make a trip to the UK, to retrace the footsteps of his father, who was in the 93rd Bombardment Group from July to November in 1944. He'd like to visit Hardwick and the 93rd Bomb Group museum there:

http://www.93rd-bg-museum.org/data/base.htm 

He made the assumption that this limey might have some awareness of either East Anglia or military history, but sadly not. I was wondering if I could summon the power of Blatchat, to see if anyone knows anything of this museum or the surrounding area, please? I think he'd like to plan some other WWII-themed visits in the area, or at least get some clues as to where he should try to stay etc.

Many thanks for any help you can give!

Golf Juliet Tango
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I don't know much of Norfolk but other relevant locations in the East of England are;-

The American Cemetery in Maddingley, Cambridge.  https://www.abmc.gov/Cambridge

And the IWM at Duxford, Cambridgeshire which has a huge exhibition hall dedicated to American air power. https://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford

https://www.iwm.org.uk/events/american-air-museum

These are easily included on the way to of from Norfolk.

Stephen

Democratic dissent is not disloyalty, it is a positive civic duty

wild bill
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Lots of airfields to visit. Most now farmland. In the seventies my father lived in Bressingham and Fersfield was walking distance. The control tower still had the names of the last flight chalked up inside and i learned to drive there. Tibbenham was a gliding school as well (James Stewart flew from there)

Google maps is a good start point and google will tell you which airfields are worth seeing

 

Wrightpayne
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We took the kids to the Muckleburgh museum. A large private collection of military memorabilia including guns, tanks and equipment etc I would say visit if you're in the vicinity but dont go massively out of your way.

TomB
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He wont go far in Norfolk without tripping over an old airfield! He probably needs to find a copy of this book.  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Norfolk-Airfields-Second-World-War/dp/1853063207/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=norfolk+airfields&qid=1594282260&sr=8-4

The museum at Thorpe Abbots, near Diss for the 100th BG ('Bloody 100th') is probably right up his street.  

http://www.100bgmus.org.uk/

For a more general aircraft museum in Norfolk, there is the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation museum near Bungay.  

Mcalvert
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Hi  - I asked my aviation journalist father (who also happens to live in East Anglia) and his suggestions were as follow:

I’ve not been to Hardwick or its museum which, from the website info given, is only rarely open (and not at all at the moment). Where to stay to visit? Norwich is the obvious centre, with the added advantage of being able to visit the ‘Second Air Division’ Library in central Norwich https://www.americanlibrary.uk/ . This is also currently closed, but absolutely essential to visit as a source of Eighth Air Force information and material. Alternatively, the towns of Attleborough and Wymondham have hotels and pubs with rooms, if you wanted a more rural place to stay. A car is necessary to visit Hardwick or any other 8th AF airfield.

References to Hardwick (Station 104) can be found in two of Roger Freeman’s excellent 8th Air Force volumes. Roger was a little lad living in Dedham, north Essex in 1943 who took great interest in the USAAF bomber build-up in East Anglia – and, in particular at the nearby USAAF airfield at Boxted - and went on to become the acknowledged expert on all things Eighth Air Force.

The Mighty Eighth by Roger A Freeman Roger A Freeman, Macdonald and Co, 1970 (and subsequently republished). ISBN (SBN) 356 02662 0

Airfields of the Eighth by Roger A Freeman, Battle of Britain Prints International, 1978, ISBN 0-900913-09-6

Roger was a farmer – an old English gentleman farmer; sadly, he died in 2005. Thus much of the information on the ‘then current’ state of the airfields in East Anglia in his books is somewhat out of date. As a general rule, in the intervening 40+ years more buildings and control towers have been pulled down, more runways, perimeter tracks and hardstandings have been rooted up (hardcore was a valuable commodity when the Ministry of Transport was doing its major building of motorways) but, strangely, more airfield museums have sprung up. These, though, are typically small affairs, staffed by old boys and often only open on Saturdays or Sundays and maybe bank holidays. But they’re always happy to chat, especially if you can claim a USAAF connection, however tenuous.

The Imperial War Museum at Duxford with its American Air Museum (currently closed) is another ‘must’ to visit. An easy 70 mile drive along the A11, East Anglia’s major artery, Duxford has (static, museum) examples of the B-24 Liberator, B-17 Fortress, B-29 Superfortress, P-47, P-51 etc. If neighbour made visit coincide with a Duxford air display – one weekend in May (Duxford Air Festival), mid-July (Flying Legends) or mid-September (Battle of Britain Air Show) he’d see quite a few warbirds flying, including Europe’s last airworthy B-17 ‘Sally B’, which is based at Duxford. See https://www.sallyb.org.uk/  Duxford also houses the world’s greatest concentration of airworthy Spitfires, at around a dozen.

Also well worth a visit is the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby, Lincs. A pleasant cross-country 90-mile dive from Norwich.  The BBMF is a unit of the RAF which keeps a Lancaster, a C-47 Dakota, two Hurricanes and six Spitfires in flying condition for flypasts, commemoration, Queen’s Birthday, state occasions etc. You can visit and walk through the hangar with a guided tour. Great fun and, in the summer, with a good chance of seeing one or more of their aircraft dong a practice flight overhead.. See https://www.raf.mod.uk/display-teams/battle-of-britain-memorial-flight/

Michael Calvert

Lowflying Editor ([email protected])

saundersian
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Ferrino

Strangely enough I bought a '73 Triumph Tiger  from a guy in Phoenix Arizona a couple of years ago and imported it into the UK. The father of the bloke (Steven) I bought it from had served as an  air gunner with the 93rd BG flying  out of Hardwick. Steven had done quite a bit of research and I was able to provide him with further information. He was planning a trip to the UK to visit Hardwick and other locations, although that is obviously currently on hold.

You will get very detailed information from the Website "American Air Museum in Britain". It gives details of individual personnel, and planes. The 93rd took part in the famous Ploesti Raid and there is much detail of this on line, including footage of the 93rd in Libya where they were temporarily based for the raid.

There was also, at Hardwick, a small privately owned Museum - "Hardwick Warbirds". However, I'm not sure if this is still operating.

If your friend is interested in contacting Steven, send me your friend's details and I will pass them on.

 

 

Lazzer
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Went to Hardwick a few years ago on a motorcycle run. Think their open days are normally on the 3rd Sunday of the month from spring to autumn.... Interesting place with lots of hardware/parts/crashed engines etc in Nissan huts, with machinary outside. Not necessarily any major display items tho (i.e. aircraft etc), the museum is run by volunteers in memory of BG crews.

Found it to be an 'honest' rather than staged collection and as an engineer, quite fascinating. If your visit coincides with some flying from the nearby grass strip it can be very rewarding and the drive through the villages to get there is good. (Met a guy who flew P51 Mustangs (had 2 and a Stearman, although I think he crashed one of the P51's), his profession servicing Merlin engines...

Oh, and the old dears in the cafe sell cakes to die for, had a rough time getting back a whole date n walnut on the back of a speed triple.

Ferrino
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Wow, thanks so much for all your contributions - in particular Mcalvert & his father! It's greatly appreciated and I look forward to sharing.

Saundersian: that's quite the coincidence. I will let you know if he'd like to connect with your Arizonan connection! 

For the record, he's also a petrolhead, with a V8-swapped 280Z.

DougBaker
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If he is also a petrolhead then as he drives back to Heathrow to get the flight home a stop in the Brooklands Museum might be a good option.

1.6K Roadsport SV

Gnockoff
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Just before lockdown in March, I visited the Battle of Britain Bunker at what used to be RAF Uxbridge, which is close to Heathrow. 
Interesting Museum above ground, but what was the mind blower was a guided tour of the actual bunker underground from where they directed the Battle. Unchanged from 1945. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and really brought the place to life.  All closed at moment, but highly recommended when it reopens.