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Diss Museum manager Basil Abbott. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.
Diss Museum manager Basil Abbott. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.

The epic double Atlantic crossing of the R34 airship is celebrated in a new exhibition at Diss Museum.

It will be 100 years in July since the huge aircraft flew from Scotland to New York then back to England, where it docked at Pulham St Mary air station.

The museum is now open daily and manager Basil Abbott, pictured, appeared dressed as an American crew member of the R34 when he introduced Wing Commander Richard Youngs to perform the official reopening on Saturday.

Wing Comander Richards Youngs cuts the tape.
Wing Comander Richards Youngs cuts the tape.

The former Diss Grammar School pupil served all over the world in the RAF before returning to Diss, where he is president of the local branch of the Royal Air Forces’ Association.

The exhibition cases dedicated to the R34’s flight include an airship in Meccano, while the illustrations include photographs donated by the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Long Island, which emphasise the international interest in the anniversary of the crossing.

There is also a picture of engineer George Graham with Wopsie, the airship’s cat.

There is also a reminder of more recent times in the Cuthbert’s Christmas exhibition, showing what the former Mere Street wine store was selling in the 1960s.

Flash bang wallop - what a picture
Flash bang wallop - what a picture

Basil Abbott, said: "On Saturday I, in the guise of General Edward Maitland of the R34 airship, introduced my former schoolfellow Wing Commander Richard Youngs.

"We were at Diss Grammar School in the 1960s. I was dressed in a white boiler suit, as Maitland was on his arrival at Mineola, Long Island. He was the Officer who compiled the Log and who has left the most complete account of the voyage.

"I explained that it was a naval airship, with army ranks and RAF roundels. Wing Commander Youngs pointed out that the RAF had just come into being at the time of the trans-Atlantic flight. He said how delighted he was to be asked to open the museum and how impressed he was by everything in it."

More pictures in the current edition of the Diss Express, out now. (March 15 edition)

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