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See how memorial pays tribute to airfield's wartime heritage

PUBLISHED: 18:05 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:52 21 November 2019

Artist's impression of the memorial that will be built at the former Lavenham airfield in tribute to the Americans who flew from there in World War II  Picture: FOLA

Artist's impression of the memorial that will be built at the former Lavenham airfield in tribute to the Americans who flew from there in World War II Picture: FOLA

FOLA

A memorial to American airmen who flew from a Suffolk airfield will be a replica of the unique identification sign returning bomber crews would have used to recognise they were home.

Lavenham airfield. Picture: LAVENHAM LIFELavenham airfield. Picture: LAVENHAM LIFE

The Friends of Lavenham Airfield (FOLA) are raising £6,800 for a memorial to the United States Army Air Force's 487th Bomb Group which was based there.

Planners at Babergh District Council have now approved a 20 square foot design that is a half-size replica of the airfield's identification code 'LV'.

These letters were in the ground at the airfield and were a unique reference point for Lavenham from the air.

The memorial will lie adjacent to the restored control tower and fundraisers hope to have it in place in time for the 75th anniversary of VE Day in 2020.

The crew of US bomber Sweatin' It Out, one of the many based at Lavenham airfield  Picture: LAVENHAM LIFEThe crew of US bomber Sweatin' It Out, one of the many based at Lavenham airfield Picture: LAVENHAM LIFE

John Pawsey, the chairman of FOLA, said on the group's JustGiving page: "It is FOLA's belief that a memorial taking this form will be unique to Lavenham.

The memorial will have a brick surround and a centre of either concrete or wood for the lettering.

"The top surfaces of the wall will carry plaques recording the names of the 233 personnel who lost their lives and every unit that served as part of the 487th Bomb Group.

"The remaining space will be available to the relatives of 487th Bomb Group veterans to record on plaques their loved one's service at the airfield."

The base, in Old Bury Road at Alpheton, opened in 1944 from where the 487th flew 185 missions, losing 57 aircraft and dropping 14,641 tons of bombs.

One of its commanding officers, Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle, won a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honour - America's highest gallantry award - after ordering his crew to bail out and save themselves while he fought to keep control of his stricken aircraft after it was hit by enemy fire.

The 487th left Lavenham in July 1945 and the airfield closed in 1948.

The restored control tower remains plus a few out-buildings and partial sections of runway.

A fundraising illustrated talk 'A Wartime Christmas' by historian Dr Pat Murrell takes place at Lavenham village hall on December 11.

Tickets cost £5 and are available from the hall on 01787 248599.

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