History of project
USAAF 34TH Bomb Group War Memorial Project
The Purpose of this project was to raise funds to purchase, erect and maintain a memorial dedicated
“ To the American Airmen of the “34th” who in valour, gave their lives to the victory that made real the challenge for World Peace and Unity. 34th Heavy Bombardment Group A Unit of the United States Eighth Air Force in World War II, April 1944-June 1945. Mendlesham Aerodrome, Suffolk”
Whilst there was an existing memorial located on the A140 close to the Mendlesham Airfield site, the bronze inscription plaque was stolen in May 2010.
As part of discussions about the need to replace the plaque it became apparent that it was getting more difficult to visit the site due to lack of parking and the A140 getting busier and busier.
Many of the existing local volunteers, some of whom have either done flowers or grasscutting for over sixty years, either had to stop as they could no longer drive or walk across the road quick enough, or were reaching the stage when they would have to do so. It was therefore becoming difficult to find volunteers to keep the site neat and tidy in accordance with the respect it deserved.
The site was also very noisy due to the road and there was a possibility that any future expansion of the nearby industrial estate would not help provide a suitable atmosphere for those wishing to visit, reflect and remember.
Discussion and consultation, locally, nationally and in the USA explored the benefits of moving the memorial to within the village of Mendlesham, Suffolk. It is thought this would make things easier for those wishing to visit, provide a more suitable atmosphere and be more accessible. It did mean a move away from the actual airfield site but Mendlesham village did house administration offices for the 34th Bomb Group.
Further discussion and consultation, including the views of USA Veterans and their families confirmed a majority view, to move the location of the memorial to Mendlesham village with the preferred location being the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, Mendlesham.
Eventually, an Architect, Philip Orchard of WCP, The Whitworth Co- Partnership LLP, was appointed, plans, planning permission obtained and an Appeal fund of £35,000 launched in February 2014.
The fund of £35,000 was intended not only to erect a new memorial but also provide a reserve of funds to insure and maintain the new memorial, with the aim of protecting it for perpetuity. Clearance of the site for the “ old” memorial was also required.
With support from Veterans, Families and Friends in the States, British Organisations and Suffolk people, sufficient funds were raised to be able to instruct the contractors, FA Valiant & Son Ltd and the Plaque Stone Carver, Mark Bury, so that the memorial could be dedicated by the Bishop of Richborough on Sunday 9th November 2014.
The memorial will be managed by an advisory committee making recommendations to Mendlesham Parish Council or its successor with regard to any actions required to provide and protect the memorial for perpetuity.This committee will include community representation from
• Wetheringsett Parish Council or its successor
• Representatives from the local community, initially Mendlesham Community Centre Charity
• St Mary’s Church, Mendlesham
• Any other representation as recommended by the advisory committee and approved by Mendlesham Parish Council or its successor.
“ Valour to Victory”