American Connections

America in Suffolk

Flying Fortress & CrewFor several years from 1942 America was in Suffolk. Airfields sprung up all over Eastern England, 19 in Suffolk alone. Every day the sky seemed full of aircraft.
Young Americans were brought together with rural communities in England, members of both groups having rarely travelled abroad or seen a "foreigner" before.
The heroism and sacrifices of those young men are remembered to this day, as are the friendships that grew up and which have endured. A number of associations have been established in our area in their honour.

On this page you can find out about the former USAAF bases in this area, discover what is there now, and learn how the bases and their crews are commemorated.
There are exhibits and memorials at several bases which bring back memories of those days and trace their impact on the local communities, and vice versa.

John Appleby Rose Garden One man who particularly responded to the opportunities afforded by being stationed in rural England was Technical Sargeant John Appleby. Based at Lavenham and Thorpe Abbotts in 1945, he spent his leisure time exploring the area by bicycle and grew to love it. He recorded his memories in the book "Suffolk Summer" which is still in print to this day. His book is a record of the trials and enjoyment of brass rubbing in the Churches of Suffolk, and the friends he made in and around Bury St Edmunds. The royalties from the book go to maintain the John Appleby Rose Garden in the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds, a place to dwell on the price paid for freedom. The book and a trail leaflet reproducing John Appleby's rides around Suffolk are available from Tourist Information Centres.

During the Second World War an American Forces Chaplain frequently preached in the Cathedral and St Mary's Church in Bury St Edmunds. He told local people about a new church which was to be built in San Merino, California and was to be dedicated to St Edmund.
The Borough Council sent a piece of stone from the Abbey ruins, suitably inscribed, together with two carved pieces of stone to be incorporated into the new Church. Its first service, which concluded with the Corner Stone Laying ceremony took place on 15th June 1952.

USAAF Airbases in Suffolk and North Essex

LocationWhat's there now
Bungay (built at Flixton)
310th and 446th Bomb Group
Ross Poultry Farm
Memorial plaque on church gates and Roll of Honour plaque in Community Centre. Material in Flixton Aviation Museum.
Bury St Edmunds
(built at Rougham)

47th,322nd & 94th Bomb Group
Light industrial estate.
Control tower museum. Memorial rose garden in Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds donated by Sgt. John Appleby. In the rose garden - 94th Bomb Group Memorial, metal seat made from B17 wing, wooden seat dedicated by 94th BGA.
Plaque in Mayor's Parlour
94th Bomb Group Memorial Association
Debach
(4m NW Woodbridge)

493rd Bomb Group
Agricultural land.
Flag and plaque in Clopton Church.
Stone memorial at original 493BG HQ location.
Control tower, several buildings and parts of runways still exist.
Plans to turn control tower into museum.
Debden
(Near Haverhill)

4th Fighter Group
Army base: Carver Barracks.
Elveden Hall
Third Bombardment Division
Third Air Division Headquarters
Private house standing in Parkland and agricultural land.
The main Hall is still intact.
Window Memorials in the Church.
Eye
490th Bomb Group
Light industry and agricultural land.
Much of the runway and hardstanding areas are still intact.
Memorial in Brome village.
Framlingham (built in Parham & Gt Glemham)
95th & 390th Bomb Group
Agricultural land.
Hangar. Control tower museum.
Gt Ashfield (10m ENE Bury St Edmunds)
385th Bomb Group
Agricultural land.
Memorial plaque and stone in Gt Ashfield churchyard. Memorial nave and Book of Remembrance in church.
Halesworth
56th Fighter Group, later 489th Bomb Group, 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron & 496th Fighter Training Group
Turkey farm and agricultural land.
Memorials on airfield and in Holton Church.
Honington
(10m NE Bury St Edmunds)

364th Fighter Group and Air Depot - 1st S.A.D.
Operational RAF Station.
Memorial at Airfield. Seat in Rose Garden, Bury St Edmunds. Plaque in Mayor's Parlour.
Horham (7m SE Diss)
47th,323rd & 95th Bomb Group
Agricultural land and mushroom farm.
Memorial in village. Flag in Stradbroke Church.
Knettishall
(10m NE Bury St Edmunds)

388th Bomb Group
Agricultural land.
Hangar & few buildings still remain. Memorial stone at old entrance, Coney Weston.
388th Bomb Group Association
Lavenham
(8m S Bury St Edmunds)

487th Bomb Group
Agricultural land.
Control tower still stands. Plaques in town square, within church and at Swan Hotel.
Leiston (4m E Saxmundham)
358th & 357th Fighter Group
Agricultural land.
Plaque in village square.
Martlesham Heath
(4m NE Ipswich)

356th Fighter Group
New village and telecommunications research station.
Famous RAF base in Battle of Britain. Control tower still stands.
Mendlesham
(6m NE Stowmarket)

34th Bomb Group
Television transmitter, light industry & agricultural land.
Memorial on A140 roadside.
Metfield (5m NW Halesworth)
353th Fighter Group & 491st Bomb Group
Agricultural land.
Memorial wall.
Rattlesden
(6m E Bury St Edmunds)

322nd(part) &
447th Bomb Group
Agricultural land, flying/gliding club.
Hangar & control tower still stand. Memorial stone on airfield. B.G. plaque in Rattlesden church.
447th Bomb Group Association
Raydon (3m SE Hadleigh)
357th, 358th & 353rd Fighter Group
Agricultural land.
Hangar and few buildings still remain. New church doors as memorial.
Ridgewell
(5m SE Haverhill)

381st Bomb Group
Agricultural land.
Plaque at the old gate.
Few buildings remain.
Sudbury
486th Bomb Group
Agricultural land.
Plaque on Sudbury Town Hall. Memorial stones at church and on airfield.
Little Walden
409th Light Bomb Group,
361st Fighter Group,
493rd Bomb Group
Light engineering units.
Runways still remain.
Wattisham
(10m SE Bury St Edmunds)

68th Observation Group, 479th Fighter Group & Air Depot
Operational Army Air Corps base.
Plaque in HQ building. Museum in 1944 Romney hut. Open Sundays April to October, weekdays by appointment.
Tel. +44 (0)1449 728940.
Note on Post War Bases:There are currently two USAF bases in Suffolk, at Mildenhall and Lakenheath, both approximately 11 miles from Bury St Edmunds. These bases were however not used by U.S. forces during World War II. There were also post war bases at Woodbridge and Bentwaters but these are no longer operational. Information on local post war bases is available on Lakenheath, Mildenhall, Shepherds Grove, and Tuddenham.

Map of Suffolk Air Bases

More information on the wider history of the work of the USAAF and USAFE with particular reference to Britain and Suffolk can be found on the American Connections Homepage, flagged below.
Go to American Connections Last Updated 25th September 2012
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