Little Waldingfield History Society was incredibly fortunate and delighted to welcome Malcolm “Ozzie” Osborn to our Parish Room, on what turned out to be another very cold night. This did not however dampen the spirits, as Ozzie regaled us with an astonishing display of 300 or so photos depicting the entire history of the 486th, who were based at Sudbury airfield from 1944 to 1945.
This was not just a picture show however, as Ozzie demonstrated an incredible knowledge and understanding of the pictures: what they meant, when they were taken and the circumstances prevailing at the time; his love of the subject and his feeling towards these brave men, what they did and what it meant to all of us clearly shone through over the whole evening.
The presentation covered all aspects of the 486th's history: initial training in the States and set up in the UK, the first operation and daily life in Sudbury, interaction with the locals (who clearly loved having Americans close to hand), the planes themselves, nose-art, later operations, their daily life on the airfield (and off it when possible), the horrendous number of crashes and other mishaps, the appalling injuries and worse, and finally their quite sudden departure, which left such a huge hole in the daily life of locals.
Amazingly, more than 90 minutes of absorbing presentation flashed by in an instant, with all present enthralled from start to finish; gratifyingly, members of the audience were able to identify a number of buildings, places, people and events, plainly demonstrating the lasting value of people like Ozzie and of local history societies such as LWHS, who collect and document such details before they are lost in the myths and mists of time.
We are most grateful to Ozzie for his generosity in freely giving of his time, expertise, humour and passion to a subject of such great interest to so many people, which was visibly demonstrated by the record turnout that came very very close to exceeding our capacity.
A great time was indeed had by all.
For the record, Ozzie has been researching US Army Air Force (AAF) stations in the East of England since 1971, particularly Nuthampstead and the 398th, and he was one of the founder members of FOTE (Friends of the Eighth) in 1973.
He is a recognised expert on the subject, having amassed thousands of photos taken by US airmen, colleagues, friends and locals. He has also just published a “Photo History of the 486th Bombardment Group (H)”, a copy of which the Society will purchase to assist in our own research of Little Waldingfield during this most significant part of our shared common heritage.
For those interested in delving deeper into this fascinating subject:
- On Wednesday 20th March at the “Red Feather Club” in Horham, near Eye in Suffolk, “On the Wings of a Mighty Fortress” will get its UK premiere. This is a documentary three years in the making telling the story of the 95th Bomb Group crew of “Easy Going”, made by Mark Werkema and Jim Koehn. Please contact the 95th Bomb Group Association chairman (on 01728 860930, or email firstname.lastname@example.org) for tickets, which cost £4.00 for non-members.
- There is also a very good film shot by Harley Stroven, the armaments officer of the 835th, during his assignment from May 1944 to May 1945, which can be viewed both on YouTube and on the 486th Bomb group Association website - well worth watching as it vividly brings the subject to life and its free to watch!
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From: The 95th Bomb Group Heritage Association.
To: All association members.
Dear member, Sadly we have had to postpone Wednesday March 20th's film show at the Red Feather Club. Unfortunately the land we use for car parking is unusable due to the recent snow and rain. With more bad weather forecast we have taken the difficult decision to postpone the showing of "On the Wings of a Mighty Fortress". The UK premiere of this documentary, about a 95th Bomb Group crew, will now be on Tuesday May 14th with a 95th Bomb Group Heritage Association members-only screening. This will be followed by a second event open to the general public on Wednesday May 15th. Look out for details in your next association newsletter. We hope this change has not caused you any inconvenience. If you could spread the word about the postponement that would also be much appreciated. Kind regards Mike Ager, 95th Bomb Group Heritage Association press officer (on behalf of 95th Bomb Group Heritage Association chairman James Mutton)