On Monday 27 May, B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B and four fighters – ‘Eagle Squadron’ – carried out a commemorative flypast of East Anglian Second World War airfields to honour the American airmen who gave the ultimate sacrifice whilst operating from these British bases. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the United States Army Air Force arriving at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, to join the fight against Germany. The USAAF began arriving in the UK in 1942, and continued to build a mighty force which played a large part in taking the battle to Germany, through D-Day and on towards victory in Europe – but paid a high price.
Flying from Duxford airfield the formation flew over the Cambridge American Cemetery at Madingley, where a memorial ceremony was being held. 3,812 US airmen are buried at Madingley, and inscriptions remember a further 5,127 missing in action. It was a poignant and historic commemoration to the American airmen who lost their lives fighting for freedom from British shores. For 38 years, the UK’s last remaining airworthy B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft, Sally B, has been maintained and flown as a memorial to the 79,000 Allied airmen who lost their lives in Europe during the Second World War. See http://www.sallyb.org.uk/ for more information on Sally B. The B-17 is operated entirely from public donations and requires more help to continue flying.
Sally B was joined by the ‘Eagle Squadron’; a Hurricane X flown by Paul Bonhomme, a Spitfire I flown by Dan Friedkin, a P-47 Thunderbolt flown by Steve Hinton and P-51C Mustang flown by Ed Shipley.
Also included in the formation was TF-51D Mustang ‘Miss Velma’ flown by Pete Kynsey. Being a two-seat aircraft the TF-51D allowed for the inclusion of a very special passenger – United States Army Air Forces veteran Col. Clarence ‘Bud’ Anderson.
One of the airfields visited by the formation was the former RAF Leiston in Suffolk. ‘Bud’ flew his P-51 Mustang Old Crow with the 357th Fighter Group from this airfield.
With thanks to Esther Blaine and the IWM staff.