The years rolled back in Eye at the weekend when the 490th Bomb Group Association staged the Eye Wartime Experience. The Group is aiming to bring a permanent memorial to the US airmen who served at the town’s airfield during the Second World War.
The Group committee has been working with the Eye Business Forum, who helped to fill bags with two tons of sand which were distributed around the town and at the weekend camp set up on the community centre field.
The activities began on Friday evening at the Centre with a talk, ‘The Friendly Invasion’, given by local historian Clive Stevens recalling the arrival of the USAF in East Anglia with particular reference to the Eye airfield.
On Saturday, the streets were closed around the town centre to allow pedestrians to see static displays, military vehicles and living history displays. A comprehensive exhibition of the bomb group’s memorabilia filled the town hall with aviation pictures offered for sale and information about the French and Dutch Resistance.
Many shops had window displays with wartime posters, postcards and photographs on show and some local residents dressed up for the occasion and were given 1940s hairdos.
Make Do and Mend took place in the Vine Church and a vintage tea was held in the Gospel Centre where there were Home Front and Land Army displays.
Other activities included wartime cinema in the community centre, ‘In the Groove’ in The Bank and a dance in the town hall with live music from a Swing Band.
On Sunday morning a roll of honour commemorating the young airmen from the bomb group who lost their lives during the war was unveiled by the Mayor, Cllr Maria Ford, assisted by young US airmen from Lakenheath and Mildenhall. A poem was read out by Niles Schilder, a student from Hartismere High School, whose staff and puplis are working with the Bomb Group Project, and a final slide show was given by Clive Stevens.
The roll of honour was wrapped in a ‘Stars and Stripes’ flag found in a dusty cupboard in the town hall.
Earlier last month the flag was sent on its traditional final mission by the 92nd Fighter Squadron at Mildenhall. It will now be safely stored until it will be used next year at the unveiling of the new memorial.