Work to start on giant sculpture to mark 'forgotten' Suffolk airfield
PUBLISHED: 10:50 10 January 2020
Work is set to start on a memorial to more than 200 Second World War American airmen who flew from a former Suffolk airbase and died in the skies over Europe.
Representatives from the US Air Force are expected to join fundraisers for a cermonial laying of the first brick for the memorial to the men of the 487th Bomb Group at Lavenham air base.
Funding for the memorial has been raised by Friends of Lavenham Airfield (FOLA) for the last five years.
Chairman John Pawsey said: "It's a really significant moment and we're very happy work is now starting.
"We are delighted the US Air Force will be with us, they have always been very supportive."
FOLA is raising £6,800 for the memorial, which will be a 20sq ft design that is a half-size replica of the airfield's identification code 'LV'.
These letters were laid in the ground at the airfield and were a unique reference point for Lavenham from the air.
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A wall will carry plaques recording the names of the 233 personnel who were killed and every unit that served as part of the 487th Bomb Group.
There will also be personal dedications from veterans of the 487th and relatives of those who died.
The memorial will lie adjacent to the restored control tower and FOLA aim to have it in place in time for the 75th anniversary of VE Day in May 2020.
The base, in Old Bury Road at Alpheton, opened in 1944 from where the 487th flew 185 missions, losing 57 aircraft and dropping 14,641 tons of bombs.
One of its commanding officers, Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle, won a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honour - America's highest gallantry award - after ordering his crew to bail out and save themselves while he fought to keep control of his stricken aircraft after it was hit by enemy fire over Belgium.
The 487th left Lavenham in July 1945 and the airfield closed in 1948.
Only the restored control tower remains, plus a few out-buildings and partial sections of runway.
A fundraising talk by Tower of London Beefeater Kevin Kitcher in aid of FOLA takes place at Lavenham village hall on February 26 at 7.30pm.
Tickets are £5 and are available from Lavenham Village Hall on 01787 248599, or from Lavenham Hub in Lady Street on 01787 249939.