Other mission of Memphis Belle's legendary crew

PUBLISHED: 18:45 14 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:46 11 May 2010

HOMECOMING: The crew of the Memphis Belle completes its 25th mission over occupied Europe during the Second World War.

HOMECOMING: The crew of the Memphis Belle completes its 25th mission over occupied Europe during the Second World War.

THE crew of the Memphis Belle has over the years become legendary. But although it completed 25 missions over enemy occupied Europe in the Second World War there was another important role, too. The crew did much to promote the sale of war bonds in the Un

THE crew of the Memphis Belle has over the years become legendary.

But although it completed 25 missions over enemy occupied Europe in the Second World War there was another important role, too.

The crew did much to promote the sale of war bonds in the United States - and virtually told a nation of the need to support the war.

This weekend will see the 65th anniversary of the last mission the Memphis Belle undertook from Bassingbourn, where the crew were based as members of the USAAF 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy).

And on June 28-29 there will an open weekend at the Tower Museum at Bassingbourn Barracks which will include the story of the Memphis Belle and its crew.

Chris Murphy, of the museum, said: "The story really isn't just about 10 men in an aeroplane.

"There was much more to what they did.

"It's almost forgotten that they returned to the US and did much to promote the war effort."

He described them as "pioneers" of the war tour.

It was a tour which took the crew to 42 states in which the experiences of war were re-counted on an almost daily basis.

The public in the US, too, gained valuable knowledge of the horror of the daylight raids over Europe through a documentary by the legendary Hollywood director William Wyler.

The documentary is part of the collection at the Tower Museum and will be screened during the open weekend.

Mr Murphy said: "The documentary was one of the best pieces of propaganda to be produced.

"He was over here to make a documentary on the role a USAAF aircrew was playing in the war.

"He just happened to be at Bassingbourn. It seemed he was in the right place at the right time," said Mr Murphy.

But the documentary certainly captured the attention in the US - and the legend was born.

"The whole idea was to ensure that the people of the US realised the importance of American involvement in the war," said Mr Murphy.

"I think it went a long way in changing attitudes and raising morale in the US."

The Tower Museum at Bassingbourn Barracks will be holding an open weekend on June 28-29.


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