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USAAF Heritage Trust - WWII Airfield Restoration

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Fundraising to restore the largest and most intact original complex of wartime buildings on any former USAAF Heavy Bomber airfield in the UK. The ambition is to restore the site into a Living History Museum and Memorial to all the American servicemen and women who served in the USAAF throughout Great Britain during 1942 - 1945.

After almost two years of negotiations, a small group of credible, passionate and ambitious visionaries in England have successfully managed to gain the trust and confidence of a large family estate on the Suffolk/Norfolk borders in order to ensure the long term future of arguably the most original, complete and unmolested 'Eighth Air Force' Heavy Bomber Station complex anywhere within the United Kingdom. The historic 'Site 4' complex of wartime buildings, has remarkably survived the past 80 years due to a sentimental connection between the life-long owner of the site and the friendships made with the American Servicemen during WWII. It is our firm belief, that a wartime Anglo-American relationship between a young English lady and her American Boyfriend, is the underlying reason that the entire Communal Site miraculously escaped the post-war demolition and commercial development so often seen on countless other wartime Airfields across the Country. The site remained virtually untouched with countless examples of wartime wall-art still adorning the internals walls of the buildings and other than being utilised for the most basic of farming requirements (tractor and grain storage), this historic time capsule remained largely untouched and largely undiscovered......right up until the recent passing of the landowner. But it was her desire that if at all possible, the Site be saved from the demolition that so many other wartime airfields across the region have suffered.

So here at Site 4, Flixton, (Bungay Airfield) Suffolk, we have an absolutely incredible and unequally opportunity to save and restore a completely intact USAAF Communal Site - the largest constructed at Flixton and one of the largest out of all the wartime American occupied airfields. We have already done a lot of hard work and can now reveal that following a series of meetings over the past two years, an agreement has been reached for the USAAF Heritage Trust to take possession of the Site on a minimum 99 year lease. This will ensure firm longevity and commitment from both the family estate and ourselves leading the Project. We have also organised recent visits from two of the local District Councils (South Norfolk and Waveney) to gain their valuable advice and guidance on how best to move the Project forward.

Make no bones about it, the sheer extent of this Site, the deterioration of some of the buildings, the level of restoration required and the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the site once finished, all collectively adds up to a herculean amount of time, effort and overwhelming expense. We are not talking a few thousand pounds here, we are talking hundreds of thousands of pounds....if not more, to see the complete site fully restored. But we all happen to believe that the site is so unique in its nature, so unrivalled in its authenticity and positioned in such an incredibly English Countryside location, that we simply couldn't just walk away. To do so would go against every belief and ingrained passion that we collective have for the history of the United States Army Air Force and their time spent flying operations from Great Britain in World War Two. We could not see this Site fall into further neglect to become an irrecoverable Project beyond the scope of reality. In its current form, many of the buildings are incredibly solid; others have not fared so well but none of them are irrecoverable. The unique wall art in many of the buildings have survived incredible well with just one small area suffering the long-term effects of water ingress.

But we do have a grand plan for this incredible complex of wartime buildings, given sufficient funding. What we don't need is just another Airfield Museum at Site 4. East Anglia already boasts some of the finest Airfield Museums in the Country, which are each dedicated to the individual Combat Units that served at these Stations. We are not looking to replicate this already established format. Whilst we could not entertain restoring Site 4 without a significant 'tip of the hat' to the 446th Bomb Group that called the airfield its home, we want the entire Site to be restored as a Living History Museum, dedicated to the USAAF in its entirety. Duxford has a fantastic array of Military hardware and the countless local airfield museums do an outstanding job of telling the story of their specific airfields and the Units based upon them.....but nobody it telling the full story of the Eighth & Ninth Airforce whilst stationed in Great Britain. We don't just want to tell the story of the Combat Flyers who flew the missions; we want to tell the story of the vast majority of the near 3000 service personnel on each airfield who did everything else bar flying! The cooks in the Combat Mess who worked incredibly unsociable hours, the Armourers who hauled the bombs out to the aircraft, the gasoline truck drivers who spent their entire war hauling Aviation Fuel from the supply depots to the Hardstandings. The guys who worked in the Motor Pool, the Black Afro-American Construction Engineers who built, maintained and were responsible for all airfield defence - Who is currently telling their story? - A body of men that received scant recognition at the time and that the Supreme Allied Commander General Eisenhower cited in his post-war publication as "Some of the most important soldiers we had in the entire European War."

The scope of the Project is wide ranging and our ambitions are unquestionably grand....but saying that, we have been looking for just such a site for a USAAF Heritage Centre for over five years now.......and we have now been presented with the biggest site we could have ever dreamt of! This achievement in its own right is such a significant milestone along the journey, that we are still pinching ourselves!

It is also worthy of note, that we each come to the table of this project with 30+ years previous interest and passion for the USAAF (individually) and more like 125 years collectively. I attended my first Eighth Air Force Reunion 32 years ago at the age of 17 and still at school.......and have been immersed in the men and machines of the USAAF ever since. Chris Warne has been on the organising committee of numerous USAAF themed events and airshows for decades and pulls off incredible USAAF ground Crew themed Displays for the IWM at Duxford several times a year. Dave Pratt's vast and extensive USAAF knowledge was such that he was invited to work on Spielberg & Hanks 'Masters of the Air' Series throughout the Summer of 2021 and Tony Goff owns and operates one of the best collections of USAAF period wartime vehicles seen outside of any museum; not withstanding his support of the 388th Bomb Group Association Airfield Memorial Project in 2011. I simply mention all this to give the casual reader a little background information and to explain that we haven't just happened upon this Project and thought it a jolly good idea - we have been actively seeking an incredible opportunity like this for years.

But on a Project quite this vast, we cannot entertain doing this alone. This needs to be a community based project as it is way beyond the scope of any single individual or small body of individuals. The site is too big, the work load too great and the sheer amount of requirements (administrative and physical) just too demanding. The Plan is to stage the restoration of the site in designated Phases, with fund-raising for each one. The first Phase will be in making the entire site secure, a safe working environment and the restoration of the Aero Club complex which contains the majority of the wall art and to make these buildings water tight. Once the restoration of this initial phase is completed this building will then become in essence our 'Show-Home' and a secure facility to organise future fund-raising activities, talks, presentations, wartime dances - you name it.

The timing of our launch is intentional. We have not picked January 2024 (which sees the release of the largest period drama series on the USAAF ever made) just by chance......and we are optimistic that the surge of interest in the US Eighth Air Force as a result of the Spielberg & Hanks Mini-Series 'Masters of the Air' will assist the Project in gaining greater traction and a wider circle of interest.

Sorry this has been such a long-winded opener, but its pretty difficult to ask for your financial support of the Project without also providing a a good understanding of what we aim to achieve. We hope to start work on the Site this coming Spring once the winter weather is behind us, but we cannot do that without money or manpower.....both of which are currently in modest supply! Please view our new FaceBook Group Page - 'USAAF Heritage Trust' for up-to-date information and regular updates as to our progress and activities.

If what you have read here strikes a chord, then we would love for you to make a contribution towards us achieving our objectives. We know we need a lot of money, we understand that and significant funding will ultimately need to come from a variety of sources that we will need to tap into. But for here and now, we are kick-starting this new campaign in the hope that we can raise a good sum prior to work commencing in the Spring. Any support you can offer, large or small, will go 100% towards the Project and the sites ultimate restoration.

This is early doors here folks. Rome was not built in a day, nor was the Black Country Museum in Dudley, the Great Central Steam Railway in Loughborough, the Imperial War Museum at Duxford or any of the other outstanding Airfield museums in the East Anglian region. Bungay Airfield and Site 4 will be no exception to that rule. It's going to be an incredible journey and they'll no doubt be plenty of bomb craters along the way to negotiate.....but we'd love you to come along for the ride regardless.

Clive D Stevens (scribe) - Eye, Suffolk
Dave Pratt - Leicestershire
Chris Warne - Bishops Stortford, Herts
Tony Goff - Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk


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Donations 

  • Tracey Haylock
    • £100 
    • 1 mo
  • SAMUEL SPINKS
    • £10 
    • 3 mos
  • Karl Hauffe
    • £1,000 
    • 3 mos
  • Jeffrey Morris
    • £500 
    • 3 mos
  • Steven Weidner
    • £100 
    • 3 mos
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Organizer and beneficiary

Clive Stevens
Organizer
England
Chris Warne
Beneficiary

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