B-17 bomber returns home to north Suffolk airbase 70 years after being shot down by Germans
PUBLISHED: 06:10 18 October 2014 | UPDATED: 11:50 18 October 2014
For the last 70 years, the fate of the B-17G bomber She's My Gal had been lost in the annals of time after she embarked on her fateful last trip from a north Suffolk airbase during the second world war.
However, an email received by Tony Albrow, the co-owner of the 95th Bomb Group Hospital Museum at Horham, from a Dutchman has led to the last remaining parts of the historic aircraft returning home after the plane was shot down by the Germans while flying over northern Holland on a bombing raid to Berlin on March 6, 1944.
Mr Albrow said he had no idea what had happened to that specific plane, which was also known as Junior, when he received the email from Chris Timmer, who runs a museum in Holland, in August asking him if he would be interested in taking the parts of the plane as he needed to clear out the storage room at his museum and could no longer accommodate them.
So he arranged for a retired bus driver he knew to go and collect the parts and the museum has now been reunited with three engines, a flak vest, landing gear and assorted personal belongings from the 10 man crew.
Mr Albrow said although he was not aware of Junior, he knew B-17s had taken off from the airfield, while serving with the USAF’s 8th Air Force and some had crashed on the European continent.
“I was very surprised to receive the email. They obviously found my website and decided to donate the plane parts to the museum,” he added.
Little is known about the crew, though Mr Albrow said they had all ejected safely from the bomber, which crashed near Beilen and were taken to a POW camp in Germany.
They were subsequently believed to have been repatriated to the USA following the war.
A team from the Dutch museum subsequently dug up the remaining parts during the early 1990s as the area where the plane came down was a known crash site.
Mr Albrow said Mr Timmer was able to trace the aircraft to Horham using numbers found on the wreckage, which are all recorded.
“It is all quite new to me. It has all happened over the last month and I am hoping to have the parts of the plane on show for the last open day of the year on October 26,” Mr Albrow added.
Can you remember the aircraft flying from Horham? Share your memories by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.