Memorial for the 490th Bomb Group USAAF at Eye, Suffolk, England

Construction of an airfield at Eye, Suffolk started towards the end of 1942 by U.S. Army Engineer Battalions working with British contractors. It was declared operational and turned over to the American Air Forces in December 1943 being one of the last wartime airfields to be built in the area. In April 1944 the 490th Bombardment Group moved in, commencing operations on 31st May. 

The group flew B-24 Liberators and later B-17 Flying Fortresses. It took part in attacks on airfields, tank factories and oil plants and supported the Normandy invasion. On the 14th July (Bastille Day) 1944 the USAAF 8th Air Force 3rd Air Division based in Suffolk and Norfolk mounted Operation Cadillac dropping supplies and arms to the Resistance in the South West of France. In total 3,791 containers were dropped by 349 USAAF B17s escorted and protected by 524 Thunderbolts and Mustangs. To celebrate France's National Day the parachutes used were blue, white and red. On 9th September, as part of Operation Grassy, the USAAF dropped containers of supplies to the Resistance to the South of Besançon. 

As the Allies progressed into Germany the 490th BG were involved in attacks against enemy oil plants, tank factories and airfields. On 14th and 15th April 1945 they were involved in bombing the remaining German positions at the Point de Grave and Royan. 
After V-E day they carried food to flood stricken areas of Holland (Operation Chowhound) and took part in returning French, Spanish and Belgian prisoners of war held in Austria to allied centres. 
In all, 184 men lost their lives while based at Eye Airfield, the group flew 158 combat missions and more than around 5,000 sorties, losing 22 of its aircraft. In July and August 1945 the U.S. Air Force left Eye and returned to the U.S. - Job done !

There are a few plaques in the village of Brome close to Eye that honour the 490th, one in the Church of St Mary and two inaugurated in 1984, but no memorial. In May 2014 a small group of people from the area got together and decided to honour the airmen who risked their lives and those who gave their lives flying from Eye during World War Two by erecting a permanent stone memorial close to the Airfield where the 490th were based. 

It is planned that the unveiling of the memorial will be held around the 28/29 May 2016, giving enough time for those in the U.S. to arrange coming over.

Fundraising has been a success but is still ongoing and many events are planned for 2015. As they are announced we will post information here, so keep checking ! Alternatively you can visit the site for the 490th Bomb Group Memorial Project (link below). (Information subject to change). 

7th, 8th and 9th August 2015 – Eye Wartime Experience Weekend 
(Posters for any of the events can be found below)

It is hoped that as many shops as possible will be taking part and it is planned for much of Eye to be closed (12 noon to 6pm) to traffic except vehicles from the era involved with the weekend turning Eye back to the 1940's. 
Many events are being organised, including military vehicles and living history groups displaying various aspects of the services during WWII at the community centre and in the playing fields (Magdalen Street).
In the centre of town (Eye is a small historic market town) there will be various vintage civilian and military vehicles on show. 
The Town Hall will host an extensive display of 490th BG memorabilia plus a display of aviation art. On display also will be part of my collection of French Resistance objects and souvenirs from the Liberation and a little on the history of Operation Cadillac.
In the Vine Church (Church Street) there will be a display of 'Make do and Mend' with demonstrations.
The Gospel Hall (Castle Street) will be used as a rest centre serving tea and coffee with a display of Home Front items. Vintage hairdressers Hairaid will be set up in the Gospel Hall (poster/contact details below). 
The Banks Arts Centre will be displaying menus from the 1940's and "Nose Art" created by the students of Hartismere School. At 5pm there will be a presentation by John Davison "In the Groove" - about the affect of the Americans in this country during WWII on our musical tastes (poster below). 
Posters for other major weekend events can be found blow.

On Sunday at 11.30 am Eye's mayor Maria Ford on behalf of the town will be honouring the young men who died flying from Eye, during WWII, by unveiling a Roll of Honour inside the Town Hall. 

Map for all the weekend events (link)
n July 
Eye in 1944

The Friendly Invasion ! Presented by Clive Stevens : Saturday 28th March at 7.30pm at the Vine Church in Eye.
Talk and photographic presentation of Eye Aerodrome during World War Two :

Hardwick Warbirds Exclusive Photography Event : 18th April 2015 :

The above event passed well and raised more than £1500 towards the Memorial project.

The next fund raiser for the 490th BG Memorial Project is an afternoon military vehicle run around the Diss area : Saturday 20th June 2015 14:00 - 18:00 :

An Artwork Auction by Neil Higgs :

A fantastic one-off painting (40" by 30") depicting the Flying Fortress "Carolina Moon" of the 490th BG being overflown by two Mustangs "Janie" and "Marinell" of Hardwick Warbirds is up for auction. All proceeds from the winning bid will go to the 490th BG Memorial project. Closing date for the auction is 18th October 2015. More info and latest on the bidding (link)

Eye Wartime Experience Weekend 7/8/9th August 2015

On Friday August 7th at 19:30 hrs Clive Stevens will be doing his excellent talk "The Friendly Invasion" at the Eye Community Centre, Magdalene Street, Eye. Tickets available on the door (even though it says advance sales only) £8

Saturday 8th August from 17:00 until 19:00 John Davison will be in the Eye Arts Centre (The Bank Arts and Community Centre, 2, Castle Street, Eye) doing his talk on American music influencing East Anglia during WWII. The event is free to attend but donations are very welcome.

Saturday 8th August at 7.30pm : Evening Swing Dance with the Skyliner Swing Band, a nine piece band and a true 1940's experience. Eye Town Hall, Eye. Licensed Bar. Tickets £12.50 Box Office (09:00 - 17:00 Mon-Fri) : 07831 568330 / 01379 871577 or email
Tickets now on sale !

Or, you may prefer :

Chilli over Tokyo : Saturday 8th August at 20:00 hrs - Eye Community Centre, Eye :
Film night with a screening of the classic 30 seconds over Tokyo, starring Spencer Tracy.
Free entry but donations welcome.

August 10th 12 noon to 4:00pm
Eye Wartime Experience Military Vehicle Run setting off from Progress Way

Sarah's, Eye's local hairdressers is accepting appointments for vintage styling and vintage hairstylists and make-up artists Hairaid Shelter will be at the Wartime Weekend Experience set up in the Gospel Hall in Castle Street.

In spring 2015 the 490th Memorial Project in partnership with Hartismere School in Eye were given Heritage Lottery funding to support the Memorial Project. Students will now carry out research into the lives of the US servicemen based at Eye in 1944 and 1945. A heritage trail across the old airfield is planned and they will also create a small museum within the school dedicated to the US airmen. The students will also be involved in landscaping the area around the forthcoming memorial.

Website for the 490th Bomb Group Memorial Project (link)
Follow the project on Facebook (link)
Hardwick Warbirds (link)

It is a pleasure to be able to post this article as my uncle served in the USAAF from 1953 to 1973 and was stationed at West Drayton, Middlesex in 1956, from where he met my aunt. He was Chief of Police from 1975 to 1988 at Westover Air Force Base, Chicopee, Massachusetts and retired in 2000. He sadly died on July 4th 2013 (link). My cousin also served with the USAAF and was stationed in the 1980's at Bentwaters Airbase near Woodbridge, Suffolk.