Bomber group tribute to go on show at Sudbury heritage centre

Phylis Felton at the Sudbury Heritage Centre with the painting that will be the centrepiece of a new

Phylis Felton at the Sudbury Heritage Centre with the painting that will be the centrepiece of a new tribute to the American 486th bomber group. Left is artist Stephen Binks. - Credit: Gregg Brown

A new tribute to the American 486th bomber group stationed in Sudbury during the Second World War is to go on show at a heritage centre in the town.

Originally opened in 2006, a modern new room was added to the Sudbury Museum and Heritage Centre last June, named in honour of a humble local historian who died in 2012 leaving a £3million legacy to causes close to his heart.

The Sudbury Museum Trust was among the beneficiaries of town stalwart Tony Wheeler’s fortune, receiving £105,000 which was used to give the heritage centre its 21st century makeover.

According to museum trustee David Burnett, the facility which is tucked away behind the town hall has gone from strength to strength since the refurbishment.

It is holding a special open event on Saturday where specialists will be on hand to give free opinions about coins, fossils, pieces of pottery and metalware that have been found in the area.

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“That piece of apparent junk that you have had in a drawer for years could have a very interesting history,” Mr Burnett said.

On the day, a new wartime display will be revealed featuring a huge painting of a damaged B-17 Flying Fortress bomber flying low over Sudbury town centre.

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This spring it will be 72 years since the first members of the 486th bomber group touched down at the nearby airfield.

The artist Stephen Binks, 56, captured not only the drama but the detail of the town as it was in the mid 1940s.

The painting, which began as a commission for a Sudbury fish and chip and featured in the recent Visions of Sudbury exhibition, has been acquired for the town by a consortium that includes the Museum Trust, the Sudbury Society and the Sudbury Freemen’s Society.

Beneath it will be a display of souvenirs from that time including official USAAF photographs; the silver badges aircrew wore on their uniforms and reminders of a crash that cost nine lives.

Also on show will be the ongoing changes in the new Anthony Wheeler room with its digital screens and pieces from the Sudbury Ephemera Society collection.

The museum will be open from 10.30am to 1.30pm on Saturday March 5.

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