Former Army chief unveils plaque at Hethel Second World War exhibition

Lord Dannatt unveils a plaque in memory of 2nd Lt. L Lord Dannatt unveils a plaque in memory of 2nd Lt. L "Pete" Hughes at the 389th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, Hethel. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
8:00 AM

Former British Army chief General The Lord Richard Dannatt was on hand to unveil a plaque commemorating an old US airbase’s contribution to the Second World War.

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Lord Dannatt unveils a plaque in memory of 2nd Lt. L "Pete" Hughes at the 389th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, Hethel.
Photo by Simon Finlay.Lord Dannatt unveils a plaque in memory of 2nd Lt. L "Pete" Hughes at the 389th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, Hethel. Photo by Simon Finlay.

The peer was given a tour of new display Nissen hut at the 389th Bomb Group Memorial Exhibition in Hethel, where a series of photographs, artefacts and memorabilia are housed to mark the work done at the base during the conflict.

After America entered the global conflict in 1941, the 389th Heavy Bombardment Group 2nd Air Division of the US Airforce was based in Hethel and helped fight missions across Europe.

One of those who used to watch the activity on the airbase with awe was Fred Squires, who 60 years later has helped gather material in a building that used to be both the gymnasium and chapel for the Hethel Airfield, situated in Potash Lane.

Displays include striking original wall paintings, uniforms, decorations, combat records, photographs and memorabilia, including some for the 466th Bomb Group, Attlebridge.

Mr Squires, now aged 80, said it was an “excellent” visit and that General The Lord Dannatt was impressed by the number of people who had arrived for the first open day of the exhibition’s new season. About 90 people were present for the event.

“He said about our relationship with America during the war, how close we were and how they helped us win the war,” said Mr Squires of General The Lord Dannatt’s visit.

“He chatted to the public and met the whole team of volunteers. He couldn’t believe how many people had turned up.”

American service personnel from RAF Lakenheath, who helped to put the Nissen hut together, also attended Sunday’s event.

Although many museum exhibitions this year mark the centenary of the First World War, 2014 also marks the anniversaries of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

Organisers of the Hethel display had to raise £10,000 for the Nissen hut to show the objects they had gathered. However members of the public have been so generous with donating items that they are looking to raise the funds for a second Nissen hut.

Open days are on the second Sunday of each month, between 10am and 4pm, until October.

Is your community marking the anniversaries of the First or Second World Wars? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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