Second World War pilots return to Fowlmere for memorial service

PUBLISHED: 09:22 07 August 2018

The 339th Fighter Group were remembered at the site of their former base in Fowlmere. Picture: Leslie Price

The 339th Fighter Group were remembered at the site of their former base in Fowlmere. Picture: Leslie Price

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Second World War American pilots from the 339th Fighter Group returned to their former base in Fowlmere for a memorial service to those who served there.

Former P-51 Mustang pilot William MacClarence. Picture: Leslie PriceFormer P-51 Mustang pilot William MacClarence. Picture: Leslie Price

William Moore and William MacClarence flew P-51 Mustang fighters from Fowlmere during the conflict and returned to South Cambs alongside members of the 339th Fighter Group Association.

This included members of three United States Air Force squadrons, the 503rd, 504th and 505th.

Moore was shot down by German anti-aircraft in September 1944 and became a prisoner of war.

MacClarence survived the war and was credited with destorying eight enemy aircraft.

The 339th Fighter Group were remembered at the site of their former base in Fowlmere. Picture: Leslie PriceThe 339th Fighter Group were remembered at the site of their former base in Fowlmere. Picture: Leslie Price

As part of the service – Ann Develhymer, the daughter of the groups former commander General John B Henry Jr – unveiled a memorial stone at the base of Fowlmere Museum’s flagpost, with the US flag also being raised.

The airfield was used by the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain before being handed over to the USAAF.

During the ceremony, a Supermarine Spitfire from IWM Duxford – Fowlmere’s sister station during the war – made several flypasts.

Other speakers included Col Piers Storie-Pugh of the Not Forgotten Association, who talked about the airfield’s First World War history, and Bill Clark, the son of 504th commander William Clark.

Former P-51 Mustang pilot William Moore. Picture: Leslie PriceFormer P-51 Mustang pilot William Moore. Picture: Leslie Price

Those who travelled from the US were greeted by invited villagers and Fowlmere Airfield Museum founders Mark Donagain, David Izzard, and Henry Sterecki – the latter gentleman was born in one of the former Second World War huts at the airfield.

The museum’s exhbits also featured in the service and were very popular.

Second World War US jeeps acted as the backdrop for speakers, while a mock-up of a Mustang cockpit, complete with sound effects was on show.

A booklet entitled ‘The American 165th and 339th at Fowlmere England’ written by Leslie Price was also handed out to those in attendance.

P-51 Mustangs of the 339th Fighter Group lined up at Fowlmere. Picture: James Starnes, Wikimedia CommonsP-51 Mustangs of the 339th Fighter Group lined up at Fowlmere. Picture: James Starnes, Wikimedia Commons

The day was completed with a pub lunch at the Chequers in the village, a popular venue with those who served at Fowlmere during the Second World War.

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