American military veteran to return to Suffolk for memorial unveiling

Bomber pilot Dick Nelms will return to Suffolk Picture: 447th BOMB GROUP

Bomber pilot Dick Nelms will return to Suffolk Picture: 447th BOMB GROUP - Credit: Archant

An American military veteran will return to Suffolk at the weekend as part of a reunion tour of a World War Two bomb group.

Bomber pilot Dick Nelms will visit Rattlesden Airfield on Saturday, which was home to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) 447th Bomb Group during the conflict.

The 447th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses out of Rattlesden, near Stowmarket, and flew their first mission on Christmas Eve, 1943.

The group's main focus was hitting sites that would weaken enemy forces connected with a planned ground invasion of France the following summer.

In June 1944 itself, the group supported the invasion of Normandy by bombing airfields and other targets near the beachhead.

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As part of the planned reunion, members of the group will visit Rattlesden Airfield, USAAF Station 126 on Saturday, where there will be a display of military vehicles, pictures, models and artefacts at the original control tower.

The travelling party will then make their way to nearby Hitcham, where a new memorial will be unveiled with a dedication ceremony to honour 17 men who lost their lives following a mid-air collision on October 2, 1944.

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On Sunday afternoon, the group will attend Hightown Green in Rattlesden to attend the rededication service of the 447th Bomb Group Memorial at 3pm.

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