100th Bomb Group memorial museum control tower – Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk, UK
I was recently ‘tagged’ by my friend Kat to take part in a little photo game where you pick the tenth photofile and talk about it. Here is my contribution taken from the Norfolk collection that has been sat on my computer for years… literally.
The tenth photograph was taken at the 100th Bomb Group museum at Thorpe Abbotts on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. In the late 1970’s , a team of enthusiasts decided to renovate the old airfield tower and turn it into a memorial museum dedicated to those 100th Bomb group aircrews who were killed in action. The museum is run by local volunteers who tell the story of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) at Thorpe Abbotts. It is a place to remember.
The photograph above was taken on the top of the control tower looking out over where the runway used to be. Although agriculture has gradually crept back onto the old airfield, the tell tale signs that this place was a hive of activity seventy years ago are still visible. Maintenance areas can still be seen and a large section of the old concrete runway still exists, so it’s not hard to imagine the roar of aircraft taking off to attack targets in Europe. The airfield would have been a noisy place back then, but now it’s one of the the most peaceful places i know.
The overall feel of the place is ghostly. The only sound is the wind, with maybe some birdsong in the background. A star spangled banner flutters and flaps on a flagpole, as a permanent salute to those long gone. The very young faces of the lost aircrews stare out at you from the photos in the museum’s beautiful chapel. Their youth is overwhelmingly obvious as they stand proudly in front of their B-17s. The photos reflect lives cut short a long way from home, sacrificed for a better world free of Nazism. I can’t think of a more fitting memorial than the actual control tower that many crews would have looked at as they taxied for takeoff. I love the museum, the atmosphere, the history and the old airfield. For me, this photograph captures all of that.