Celebrating life of wartime icon

PUBLISHED: 12:49 24 May 2007 | UPDATED: 15:06 12 May 2010

From left Lt Col Nigel Smith, Chris Murphy and Major Daniel Stone at the Bassingbourn Tower Museum

From left Lt Col Nigel Smith, Chris Murphy and Major Daniel Stone at the Bassingbourn Tower Museum

AN exhibition has opened to celebrate the life of an iconic Second World War aeroplane. Memorabilia of the Memphis Belle has been gathered in the Bassingbourn Tower Museum, which is based in the original Airfield Control Tower at Bassingbourn Barracks. Ma

AN exhibition has opened to celebrate the life of an iconic Second World War aeroplane.

Memorabilia of the Memphis Belle has been gathered in the Bassingbourn Tower Museum, which is based in the original Airfield Control Tower at Bassingbourn Barracks.

Major Daniel Stone from the USAF, Lt Col Nigel Smith, commanding officer at Bassingbourn Barracks and Chris Murphy, curator of the museum opened the exhibition.

Mr Murphy said: "The Memphis Belle was more than just an aeroplane. It was iconic, it is a national treasure and its history lays here in Bassingbourn.

"Visitors can learn the story of the Memphis Belle here at the museum. We have everything from pictures and models to mugs and keyrings."

The Memphis Belle began its historic life at Bassingbourn and from here took its first flight.

Survival rates of the aeroplanes used in the Second World War were shockingly low - 80 per cent of flights would not return.

However, the Memphis Belle successfully completed 25 accredited missions, its last being to Keil in Germany.

The aeroplane flew back to Bassingbourn before travelling to America to embark on its War Bond tour. In Chicago the aeroplane was welcomed by a crowd of 100,000 people.

Mr Murphy said: "The American people were particularly against the war at first. However, the 1990 film Memphis Belle helped to change these attitudes."

A love story surrounded the flight of the Memphis Belle. Pilot Bob Morgan named the aeroplane after his girlfriend Margaret Polk.

The Memphis Belle is now at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

- The Bassingbourn Tower Museum is open Wednesday, 10am-4pm and Sunday 10am-1pm.

To arrange a visit log on to http://members.aol.com/an6530/Museumvistor

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