The 447th BG UK group hosted veterans Dick Nelms and Bill Hennessey and others for a get-together at the airfield where the 447th BG operated during WWII. My family was able to meet up with the rest of the reunion attendees for only the Saturday portion of the UK Reunion on June 29, but what a wonderful day it was.
Below is a sampling of my photos from Rattlesden — starting with a look at the group on the grounds near the Control Tower. Our England hosts included Roger Watts and Denis Grant, both having ties to Rattlesden from when the 447th was based there, and Chris French, who displayed an amazing collection of artifacts and memorabilia. While we were there, Nelms strapped into a glider for a flight from the very runway he had piloted PANDORA’S BOX during WWII.
Next is a group of photos from the memorial plaque dedication during the 447th BG UK reunion — honoring the crews lost in the collision of 43-38245 and 44-6460 while forming up for the mission on October 2, 1944. The new memorial stands outside Hitcham on the very break in the hedgerow that still remains from when #245 fell to earth. Plane #460 crashed less than a mile away on remote farmland in the parish of Kettlebaston. Chris French shared the story of the incident to a large crowd assembled, including 447th BG veterans Dick Nelms and Bill Hennessey.
The third group of photos is from our visit to the 447th BG memorials at Thorpe Morieaux during the recent UK reunion. At the main site were plaques listing the crews of 42-38085 that crashed March 27, 1944, and 42-31088 HEAVEN CAN WAIT that crashed about two weeks later on April 12. Because of the remote location, a short hayride was needed to get the group to the specific site where #8085 crashed.
The final group of reunion photos is from the dinner gala in Thorpe Morieux, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the dance held following the 447th BG’s 100th mission on June 29, 1944. Looking over the shots from the dinner and dance, I confess they don’t even begin to capture the festive atmosphere at the dance. The place was jumping with the live band and so many community folks in vintage period uniforms and attire. Not sure why I didn’t take more photos — must have been the end of a long day and subconsciously gave the camera a break!
Links to other photos galleries:
- Dick Nelms and the Schleicher ASK-21 Glider
- Many of the existing 447th BG buildings still at Rattlesden