Local books: planes missing in action

Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Volume 2, by Stan Bishop and John Hey. ISDN 0-9547685-2-3“I REGRET to inform you report received states your husband First Lieutenant Benjamin B Street missing in action near Bochum Germany since Twelve August.

Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Volume 2, by Stan Bishop and John Hey. ISDN 0-9547685-2-3

“I REGRET to inform you report received states your husband First Lieutenant Benjamin B Street missing in action near Bochum Germany since Twelve August. If further details or other information of his status are received you will be promptly notified.”

It's a stark way to discover that your nearest and dearest has disappeared - particularly when the language of a telegram garbles syntax and punctuation.

This note is included in the new book by Stan Bishop, from West Suffolk, and John Hey, who lives across the North Sea in Holland. It's the second volume of a series planned to cover the losses of the United States Eighth and Ninth Air Forces and Fleet Air Wing 7, US Navy, during World War II.

The book covers the period from January 1, 1944, to the end of March. Both air forces were expanding during this time, so it's little surprise that losses were hefty. The Eighth suffered neatly 400 losses in the January, 500 in February and 700 in March. The Ninth lost more than 260 aircraft in the same period - compared to just 40 in the last three months of 1943.

Many of the units, of course, were based in East Anglia: at airfields such as Rattlesden, Debden, Framlingham, Boxted and Great Dunmow.

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The book is a comprehensive, self-published, labour of love detailing the planes that failed to return. Fortunately, not all airmen perished. The 10 on board a B-17 that left Great Ashfield in Suffolk on January 30 were all captured as prisoners of war. The plane had taken off to attack German aviation industry plants but, after releasing its bombs, crashed eight miles away from Osnabruck. The plane was hit by flak and fighter aircraft, and was 99% destroyed.

Dragons of Honeysuckle Valley, by Maureen Wills, £4.99. ISBN 978-0-7223-3807-0

THIRTEEN years ago, Maureen Willis spent family holidays in Sussex with grandson Jonathan, then three. “He loved going with me to the village shops, but the return journey invariably proved too much for him, and to get him home without grumbles I began to make up my stories about a family of dragons,” says Maureen, who lives near Stowmarket.

Two years ago she decided to write them down. The result is her self-published collection of six stories about Otto, Blotto, Lotty and Dotty, and their family and friends - with illustrations by Christina Stone.

Maureen, who describes herself as a “scribbling granny”, has recently read some of the stories to children at two schools in the Ipswich area.

The book is available from Days Bookshop in Needham Market, Stowmarket Bookshop, and Woodbridge Books. WH Smith and Waterstones will take orders, she says.

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