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New museum to showcase Norfolk airbase’s crucial role during Second World War

PUBLISHED: 12:59 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:59 08 November 2017

The 8th Air Force Heritage Gallery is to be unveiled at Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: MATT WILKINS

The 8th Air Force Heritage Gallery is to be unveiled at Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: MATT WILKINS

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A new museum which pays homage to the contribution a major Norfolk airbase made to the Second World War effort will open this weekend.

The 8th Air Force Heritage Gallery is to be unveiled at Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: MATT WILKINSThe 8th Air Force Heritage Gallery is to be unveiled at Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: MATT WILKINS

Old Buckenham Airfield will open its second museum, the 8th Air Force Heritage Gallery, on Remembrance Sunday.

The museum has been designed to complement to the 453rd Bombardment Group Museum, which was built in 2015, and houses the largest collection of memorabilia to the group, that carried out crucial bombing raids during the war.

The new gallery showcases some of the extensive collection of James Clarey, curator of the museum.

He has many exhibits relating to the 8th Air Force, of which the 453rd was a part, so the decision was made to create a place where they can be on public display.

The 8th Air Force Heritage Gallery is to be unveiled at Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: MATT WILKINSThe 8th Air Force Heritage Gallery is to be unveiled at Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: MATT WILKINS

Matt Wilkins, Old Buckenham Airfield manager, said: “The opening of the new 8th Air Force Heritage Gallery, just two years after the main 453rd Bombardment Group Museum, serves as an excellent example of the airfield’s dedication to the memory of all those USAAF servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War Two.

“Thanks to James Clarey and a team of volunteers, countless exhibits from the war are now able to viewed by the public for the first time.”

Based in the airfield’s ‘Small Blister Hangar’, the 8th Air Force Heritage Gallery contains a host of displays and exhibits.

At its heart is a faithful recreation of the Post Exchange, a place where servicemen collected parcels and letters and which was a key feature of their lives during the war.

Remembrance Sunday will also see the unveiling of a new ornamental railing enclosure for the Memorial Garden.

Built in house by the airfield, the railings required over 1,000 fixings and took over a week to complete.

A brand new LED lighting system forms part of this latest update, the first major improvement since the garden was created in 2012.

Fittingly, the 8th Air Force Heritage Gallery will be formally opened following the traditional Remembrance Sunday Service, held at 10.55am at the War Memorial.

The United States will be represented by a senior officer from RAF Lakenheath.

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