MEMORY LANE: US airmen’s Eye ‘invasion’
Last week the Diss Express reported how the airmen of the 490th Bombardment Group, who were based at Eye Airfield during the 1940s, were set to be immortalised with a memorial after a successful fundraising effort.
Clive Stevens, a member of the memorial project, has submitted photos which gives further insight into their stay in Suffolk 70 years ago.
The 490th flew 158 missions from June 1944 to July 1945.
They were initially activated on October 1, 1943 at Salt Lake City Army Air Base, Utah, before then being transferred to Mountain Home Army Air Field, Idaho.
It was there where the group formed and trained, from December to April 1944.
The ground unit left for Camp Shanks, New York, on April 11, 1944, sailing on the SS Niew Amsterdam, arriving in Clyde on April 25. On April 12, the aircraft started the overseas movement, taking the southern ferry route, via Morrison Field, Florida, through Trinidad, Brazil, Dakar and Marrakesh to Britain.
The group arrived at RAF Eye for operations with VIII Bomber Command in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) and was assigned to the 93rd Combat Bombardment Wing.
The group tail code was a ‘Square-T’.
Initially, the 490th started combat missions in June 1944. This consisted of bombing airfields and coastal defences in France using B-24s, immediately preceding and during the invasion of Normandy.
They would switch to B-27s in the August of that year.
The group was redeployed to the USA in the summer of 1945, with their journey home beginning on July 6.
The ground unit sailed from Southampton on the RMS Queen Elizabeth on August 26, 1945, arriving back in New York on September 1, 1945.
The 490th was established at Drew Field, Florida two days later, and deactivated there on November 7.
n The second phase of fundraising has begun for the memorial project. For more information, visit www.490th.co.uk