Just beyond London - Big skies, even bigger stories

In WWII seventy airfields across East Anglia became home to nearly a quarter million American airmen and ground crew. Known as ‘The Friendly Invasion’ they brought jitterbug dancing, big band sounds, and the first taste of peanut butter, chewing gum and coke to quiet, rural England.

75 years ago, the world came to the East. Now we’d like to welcome you back.

100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk

Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk
Chock full of artifacts housed in the original airfield control tower and Qonset huts, remember the pilots and crew of the B17’s known as the ‘Bloody Hundredth’ due to heavy losses. See the airfield as it would have been when in operation from the glasshouse atop the tower.

Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridgeshire

IWM Duxford, Cambridgeshire
Partner to the Imperial War Museum London and home to vehicles and planes it’s one of the most outstanding and exciting aviation destinations in the world. Hear from the privates to presidents whose lives have been shaped by experiences of war in the American Air Museum.

The Swan at Lavenham, Airman’s Bar, Suffolk

Airman's bar at The Swan, Lavenham, Suffolk
Pull up a stool at the long bar and raise a pint of warm beer to the signatures of many of the servicemen stationed nearby who scrawled on the walls. If you don’t spot the name of a relative, console yourself with an excellent cocktail and a trip to the luxurious Spa.

Norwich Castle, Norfolk

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery
Find out more about this Medieval city via its Norman castle by taking a dungeon tour or climbing to the battlements for panoramic views of the city. Afterwards, explore The Lanes, a thriving warren of independent shops, cafes and bars just outside the gates.

Hylands House and Estate, Essex

Hylands House, Essex
Known locally as The White House - yes really - this was a German Prisoner of War camp and a wireless command post for the 6th Anti-Aircraft Division. Captain Paddy Blair Maine drove a Jeep up the Grand Staircase for a bet in 1944. We can’t let you do that, it’s now a protected building, but you can tour the house and gardens, which have been restored to their former Victorian glory.

Chelmsford Cathedral, Essex

Chelmsford Cathedral, Essex
Links between Chelmsford Cathedral and North America go right back to the days of the Pilgrim Fathers. There’s a plaque here reading ‘Founder of the State of Connecticut, Father of American Democracy’, to commemorate Thomas Hooker, a local preacher, and the South Porch celebrates the many airmen stationed nearby during WWII.

RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire

RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire
Now home to the Red Arrows in 1943 the pilots of squadron 617th who attacked Ruhr dams with the Barnes Wallis's rotating mine lived here, you might know them as the Dambusters. In 1945 two Lancaster squadrons mounted an attack on Hitler's mountain retreat at Obersalzberg. and that’s just a taster of the history here.

453rd Bombardment Group Museum, Norfolk

Jimmy Stewart, 453rd Bomb Group
Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart was the first Operations Officer of ‘Ol Buck’ when it started life. The 453rd flew 259 missions in B-24 Liberators, dropped 15,804 tonnes of bombs and lost 58 aircraft. This is still a working airfield and a centre of flight simulation excellence. Fancy ten minutes in a Red Arrows Hawk flying through the Welsh mountains, anyone?

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, near Madingley, Cambridgeshire

Cambridge American Cemetery & Memorial
The cemetery holds the remains of 3812 members of the US military, with 5127 names recorded on the Tablets of the Missing. Most made the ultimate sacrifice in the Battle of the Atlantic or in the strategic air bombardment of northwest Europe. Deeply moving, you will also gain a better understanding of this critical campaign which contributed to the Allied victory in Europe during World War II.