Hellesdon

New digital archive brings Second Air Division’s history to life

Just Regional
May 20, 2016 3 mins read

A unique collection that tells the story of American servicemen and women of the Second Air Division, United States Army Air Force, who were based in Norfolk and Suffolk during the Second World War has been digitized for public access. The website, will be launched on 19th May at the Second Air Division Memorial Library in the Forum’s Millennium Library in Norwich. The work to digitise the archive has been funded by a legacy from veteran First Lieutenant Bernard Newmark, a co-pilot with the 458th Bomb Group based at Horsham St Faith.

This website will give members of the public the opportunity to access an archive of over 30,000 unique and rare documents, including photographs, memoirs and correspondence, which has been created and collected by the veterans of the Second Air Division, their families and local people. 

The digital archive provides a rich resource for descendants of those who served during the war and undoubtedly it will be used by many people on the other side of the Atlantic.  It will also enable anyone interested in the history of Norfolk and Suffolk to explore many aspects of that period, providing invaluable insights into the relationship between American service men and women and local people.

The Second Air Division was one of the three divisions of the Eighth United States Army Air Force (USAAF). Famously, during the Second World War, The Eighth Air Force deployed the largest air strike force ever committed to battle. When the Second Air Division was at full strength, it controlled fourteen heavy bomber airfields in Norfolk and northeast Suffolk, and five fighter airfields. Its headquarters was located at Ketteringham Hall south of Norwich. Sadly, nearly 7,000 young Americans in the Second Air Division lost their lives in the line of duty between 1942 and 1945.

With peace, the Second Air Division chose to honour its casualties through a unique memorial library housed  within Norwich’s central library, which the veterans wanted to be an educational and friendship bridge between the United States and the United Kingdom. The Second Air Division Memorial Library has a lending collection of over 4,000 books covering all aspects of American life and culture, and a specialist collection devoted to the history of the Second Air Division. For more information, please visit the website address: www.2ndair.org.uk.

Harry Humphrey, Norfolk County Council’s Vice Chairman of the Communities Committee said: “This new resource will enable relatives overseas to access records of loved ones who served in World War II and we are extremely grateful to the legacy of veteran Bernard Newmark for the development of this very important website. Exploring the history and experiences of servicemen and women based in our region helps us understand their significant contribution.”

Group Captain Richard Middleton, Chairman of the Second Air Division Memorial Trust said ‘Bernie Newmark’s legacy is another example of the extraordinary generosity of the veterans and of their commitment to keeping alive the memory of their fallen comrades.  I would like to thank Gary Tuson, the Norfolk County Archivist, and his staff for making this remarkable collection so readily available to everyone.  I hope that people will explore the archive and find this record of an important part of our local history interesting.’

Three guys sitting on bomb Photograph by John Michael stationed at Attlebridge with the 466th Bomb Group during World War Two.

Three guys sitting on bomb
Photograph by John Michael stationed at Attlebridge with the 466th Bomb Group during World War Two.

'Believe' Airplane with girl on side Photograph by John Michael stationed at Attlebridge with the 466th Bomb Group during World War Two.

‘Believe’ Airplane with girl on side
Photograph by John Michael stationed at Attlebridge with the 466th Bomb Group during World War Two.

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