Wymondham pub remembers the US airmen who used to call it home during the war
06:00 30 April 2014
While the Second World War raged on, US airmen from the 389th Bomb Group serving in Norfolk would take their breaks at a historic Wymondham pub – which became so loved that it even inspired the name of a plane.
Historic pubs in Norfolk
The Ferry Inn
The Ferry Inn at Horning suffered one of the worst tragedies of the Second World War in Norfolk when twenty-two people died after the Broads pub was hit by a bomb in 1941.
Another explosive hit a boat which shuttled people across the Broads.
At the time, a couple who had left their car headlights on were blamed for the tragedy, as it was felt their lights had attracted the bomber.
Adam and Eve
The pub in Bishopgate is thought to be the city’s oldest pub - thanks in part to the sign outside the door.
Experts believe it dates back to 1249 when stonemasons working on building Norwich Cathedral needed a place to drink. Since then, it has been home to monks, smugglers, cathedral choristers, murderers and even two recorded ghosts.
The Scole Inn
Built in 1655 as a coaching inn called the White Hart, this historic building in Scole is a grade 1 listed building.
In its heyday ith handled dozens of coaches daily - and saw famous guests including Charles II and Lord Nelson walk through its doors.
It is now apparently haunted by the ghost of a woman named Emma, who was murdered by her jealous husband while they stayed at a room in the inn in the 1750s.
The Hare Arms
The original building in Stow Bardolph, near Downham Market, was erected during the Napoleonic wars. Since then, the inn has been at the centre of wartime victories, coronations and jubilees. Emma Sayles, landlady from 1878 to 1934, organised a celebration for Queen Victoria’s jubilee for nearly 1,400 revellers.
In the last few years the pub has had some interesting guests - including Johnny Depp and Robbie Williams in the early 1990s.
And, almost 70 years on, the connection is still going strong. Last week, the Green Dragon, on Church Street, raised more than £600 for a project which commemorates those men.
Not only was the pub regularly frequented by service personnel, but the airmen even became known as the Green Dragons, adopting the pub’s colourful sign as their badge.
The 389th’s first “Assembly Ship” – which guided aircraft in to formation – was also named after the pub.
Fred Squires, 80, remembers seeing the airmen visiting the Green Dragon as a boy.
He said: “When I was 10, I used to come down town with my mum and see all the men. 99pc of the jeeps outside the pub were officers that flew in combat. They would always ask for a half of ale – never a pint.”
The money will be given to the 389th Bomb Group Memorial Exhibition in Hethel – where the American servicemen were based from 1941. It will go towards building a second Nissen hut, to extend their display space.
The project – which was opened by former head of the British Army Lord Dannatt earlier this month – includes displays of original wall paintings, uniforms, decorations, combat records and memorabilia.
Pub landlord Justin Harvey said that it was “so important” to remember the pub’s history.
“This isn’t just a pub – the history is important to people and we actually do a lot of other things,” he added.
Second World War RAF veteran Stan Dixon attended the evening and was given a standing ovation by those present.
Do you have a Wymondham- related story to tell? We’d like to hear from you. Contact reporter Lauren Cope on email@example.com