Transforming the landscape, battle damage and Glenn Miller

Ben Tillett (letter in Suffolk Free Press June 14 2007):

“As a young teenager in the early‘40s living in Long Melford, I, like many others, saw the farmland of Sudbury-Acton-Waldingfield change into a mighty airbase. Workers employed for tea-making were some of the best paid during the building of this base.

The bombers arrived. Liberators flew in some time before the B17s, the Flying Fortresses. Never had I seen anything like it before. As these planes got into action with the enemy, those who had the luck would return to base.

The Fortress soon proved that it could withstand serious structural damage and still get back. Fortresses with part of their tails ripped out and engines out, so much damage, yet got back to base. Great young men flew them: many not to see home again. A Liberator crashed into trees at Kentwell Hall, a German plane crashed into trees near Bridge Street. A Sudbury postman found an enemy airman walking down a street in Sudbury. He took him to the police station.

 

American nurses at the Acton Place hospital

American nurses at the Acton Place hospital

Very little has been said of the American hospital at Acton Place. Many injured airmen were treated there. Glenn Miller performed there with the USAAF Band. My mother and young brother went, on invitation, to see them. Shortly afterwards, Glenn was lost over the English Channel. In later years I met Herb Miller, Glenn’s brother, and told him the story. It was quite emotional.” 

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