Veterans gather to remember 398 Bomber Group and 55th fighter group of American airforce

People gather outside the Woodman pub in Nuthampstead for a service to American Airforce 398 Bomber Group People gather outside the Woodman pub in Nuthampstead for a service to American Airforce 398 Bomber Group

Thursday, June 19, 2014
5:38 PM

Veterans from both sides of the Atlantic gathered in a village on Saturday to remember two air force regiments.

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Veterans from 398 Bomber Group at the reunion serviceVeterans from 398 Bomber Group at the reunion service

A remembrance service for the 398 Bomber Group and 55th Fighter Group of the United States Air Force took place at the two memorials outside the Woodman Inn, Nuthampstead, to mark 60 years since the servicemen and women arrived at Nuthampstead Airfield as part of World War II.

Paul Droy is part of a small committee which helps organise biannual visits from America to Nuthampstead.

He said: “It went very well. We had 15 people over from America, including two 90-year-old veterans – Lew Burke of 603 squadron and D.J. ‘Red’ Ibeling of 601 squadron.

“We were lucky they arrived as their bus broke down on the way to the service. Luckily a bus carrying our veterans drove past, saw them stranded in Barkway High Street, and gave them a lift.”

Flowers and a wreath is laid at the monument during the serviceFlowers and a wreath is laid at the monument during the service

The rest of the American party was made up of family members and friends of ex-servicemen. They were joined at the service by British veterans and local residents. Three World War II vehicles also arrived to do a drive-past.

Saturday’s service was followed by a thanksgiving service at St George’s Church, Anstey, on Sunday.

Mr Droy said: “The first 398 mission took place on May 6, 1944 and the last – its 195th – on April, 25 1945.

“Within that time 296 airmen lost their lives, and a further 298 became prisoners of war. Seventy aircraft were lost in combat and a further 50 were abandoned after forced landings.”

To help remember those who served, a small garden of remembrance and museum has been built in the garden of the Woodman Inn, and this was open to view last weekend.

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