The roar of engines, yellow tails and red flares

Roley Andrews:

“ I remember the planes coming back in a snowstorm and you could hear them but not see them. Around D-day you could hear the planes warming up on the airfield around five in the morning. On Christmas Eve 1944 the airfield put up 52 bombers which meant 208 engines warming up. You could hear them down in Sudbury. As they took off there was only 30 seconds between them. It was a case of one then the next, then next. If they took off at 9am, at 9.30 they would still be circling around – Sudbury was an assembly point.


The roar of Liberators over Sudbury

The roar of Liberators over Sudbury

When the bombers came back you would first see the 381st group on their way back to their Ridgewell base, then the yellow tails bearing the square ‘A’ would cross over the town on their way back to Bury St Edmunds. Then it was the turn of the 487th, our sister group, on their way back to Lavenham. Then someone would call out, ‘Here they come! They’re ours!’ We count them. We know how many left in the morning. Yes, we are happy today for they are all back. Then our joy would go flat, for we see one ship firing red flares and we all knew what that meant – they had wounded on board and wanted to come straight back in. You saw aircraft with an engine feathered and you could see the holes in some. One plane landed with three hundred holes in the fuselage.” 

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