Halesworth Airfield Museum

The Official Newsletter of

the 56th Fighter Group Memorial Association

Friends of the 489th Bomb Group and

5th Emergency Rescue Squadron Friends

Halesworth Airfield Museum

489th Bomb Group, 845th Squadron Engineering Section with the ‘Sharon D’ Halesworth, England 1944

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to our first Newsletter of the year!

The museum closed for the winter at the end of October and now Christmas is over our volunteers will continue to work on jobs in the museum until our first Open Day of the 2020 season, which is the first Sunday in April 2pm - 5pm.


The museum will be open every Sunday until the end of October. The Museum is also open on Bank Holiday Mondays between 2pm and 5pm.

We hope to see you there!


Here is a quick review of some of our family and friends visitors over the last year. You may have seen some of these on our Facebook page, but to recap:

Holton St Peter Primary School

On 29 March, the children and teachers from Holton Primary School visited the museum. It was great to see them and they showed interest in lots of exhibits. One of the pupils even saw a photo of her ‘nanny’, Peggy Hurren, from Southwold, who was a St John’s ambulance driver during WWII. Sadly Peggy passed away last year. The little girl was so happy to see her grandmother’s photo on display in the museum. At the end of their visit the air raid siren was sounded, and it was much enjoyed by all!

Colonel Lucian Dade – 56th FG

It was with great pleasure we welcomed Lt Col Alex Dade and his wife to the museum in May this year. Alex Dade is the son of Colonel Lucian Dade, who was the Commander of the 56th FG towards the end of the war.

Halesworth Airfield Museum

Photo: Lt Col and Mrs Alex Dade

Suffolk Walking Festival

On Sunday afternoon 19 May, we welcomed members of the Suffolk Walking Festival to the museum. They had walked from Beccles aiming for Halesworth for some much earned tea and cakes at The Cut. Although their ‘leader’ had said they would only be at the museum for about 5 minutes (comfort break!) the walkers found so much of interest to them in the museum they stayed for over half an hour and almost missed their tea in Halesworth! It’s great to welcome new people to the museum and we hope they will come back again.

Halesworth Airfield Museum

Photo: Members of the Suffolk Walking Festival inside museum

Lt Col Charles Freudenthal – 489th BG

During his visit to Norwich in June with the Second Air Division Heritage Group, Don Freudenthal came to visit the museum. Don’s late father Charles Freudenthal, was the 489th Group’s historian and Charlie was instrumental in the design, and getting the 489th Memorial erected on Halesworth Airfield in 1983.

Halesworth Tourism Group

It was good to welcome the Halesworth Tourism Group to the museum on the evening of 7th August. The Group were keen to see what was on offer at the museum in order to promote it to their visitors. There were several B&B owners in the group and they were very impressed by our collection.


On 21st May museum volunteers and friends were invited to RAF Lakenheath once again, to be the guests of the 48th Fighter Wing. We visited the hangars, and the flight-line, where we had a close-up view of the aircraft getting ready to depart. After refreshments we were introduced to some of the pilots in their building. It was a great day and thanks go to Hazel for all her organisation.

Halesworth Airfield Museum


Bank Holiday Monday, 27th May was Memorial Day and our museum volunteers were again present at the Memorial Day Service at the American Cemetery, Cambridge (Madingley). We laid floral tributes to our groups who served on Holton Airfield during WWII: the 56th Fighter Group, the 489th Bomb Group, the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron. This outside service, held beside the chapel and the wall of the missing was a moving tribute to the fallen.

Halesworth Airfield Museum

Photo: Young wreath bearers bring the floral tributes to the fallen


30th May 2019 saw the 75th Anniversary of the 489th Bomb Group’s first combat mission. Eleven personnel from the ‘new’ 489th Bomb Group, from Dyess AFB, Texas, flew in to be present at the commemorative wreath laying ceremony at the 489th BG Memorial on Halesworth Airfield. They were sorry they could not all be in uniform, the reason being, some of their luggage containing uniforms was lost in transit during their flight to England. The 489th Commander Col McLanahan laid our wreath on behalf of us all. After refreshments and a visit to the museum, they visited the church and then the Triple Plea Pub. At the end of the day, they returned to the memorial site to take down the flags and present them to the current 489th Commander. It was a poignant ceremony done with great honour. We thank them all for flying all this way to pay tribute to these brave men.

Halesworth Airfield Museum



The Remembrance Day Service at St Peter’s Church, Holton was attended again this year by personnel from RAF Lakenheath. Following the placing of poppy wreaths at the village War Memorial in the churchyard, the Remembrance Day Service took place inside the church. After the Service, whilst walking from the church to the airfield, the serving airmen and women from RAF Lakenheath read out the names of each of the fallen who had served on Halesworth Airfield during WWII. Col Heather Wootten led the wreath laying at the Airfield Memorial Site. Poppy wreaths were placed on each of the memorials: to the 56th Fighter Group, the 489th Bomb Group and the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron. We were honoured to have the American servicemen and women and their families with us on this important day.

Halesworth Airfield Museum

Photo: 2019 Remembrance Sunday at the Airfield Memorial site: Personnel from the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath


Operation Anvil – film

In June, the museum played host to a crew making a film about Operation Anvil – the Joe Kennedy explosion over Blythburgh. Museum volunteer Richie Pymar did an interview with James Rodgers for the Dan Snow series.

Cream Teas at the Museum!

On Sunday 14th July, our Museum volunteers joined with the Halesworth Cancer Research UK volunteers to fund raise by serving delicious Cream Teas on the lawn in front of the museum. All the scones, cakes etc., were home made and donated by all the volunteers and their families. It was a great success. Thanks to all involved!

Halesworth Airfield Museum

Photo: Inside the tea tent – amazing home-made cakes!

New Commander for the 489th BG (Dyess AFB)

Col Christopher Hawn became the new Commander of the 489th Bomb Group during a change of command ceremony at Dyess AFB, Texas, on 13 July 2019.

New Display Case

Halesworth Men’s Shed made a new ‘Uniform’ display case for the museum and we would like to thank them all.

Montgomery crash 1944

It was on the 22nd June 1944 Lt Montgomery’s B-24 ‘Johnny Reb’ crashed near Arundel. A memorial plaque has been placed at the crash site by the landowner farmer and his son. Seven of the crew who bailed out as the aircraft was crossing the channel, were picked up and saved, but three crew members, 2/Lt William Montgomery, F/O John J Crowther and T/Sgt John Holoka Jr., died when the plane crashed.

In September 2019, the American Veterans Archaeological Recovery group conducted a dig at the crash site, in partnership with the DPAA. A representative from our museum Paul Starks was invited to the site to watch how it was carried out. The results of the dig will be published in due course.

Lt Col Jimmy Jackson

In October, it was reported from Dyess AFB that Lt Col Jimmy Jackson (B-1 Pilot) has been named Commander of the 345th Bomb Squadron. Our friend Jimmy has visited Halesworth a couple of times, including on the 75th Anniversary commemoration of the 489th, and we send him our hearty Congratulations!

Combat Dealers

In November we had a film crew from Bruce Crompton’s Combat Dealers series filming inside the museum, for the new series, which will be shown next year.

Halesworth Airfield Museum


We are delighted to announce that INK will be performing an extraordinary play here at the Halesworth Airfield Memorial Museum on Saturday 2nd May. There will be two performances starting at 2pm and 5pm. Refreshments will be available, including wine and BBQ.

The play has been written and produced by INK, funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund and will be performed at this year’s INK Festival in April before touring to several air museums in East Anglia to commemorate VE Day. For tickets visit www.inkfestival.org 

No Ordinary Joe, No Ordinary Kennedy -

The flight that changed history

It was Joe Kennedy, the elder brother of JFK, who as a young man seemed destined to become President of the United States - until, that is, the Second World War intervened. The play examines Joe's complex character, and traces events which led Joe to volunteer for a top-secret and highly dangerous mission, in which he was required to fly a plane packed with explosives, and bail out before it crossed the Channel.

Halesworth Airfield Museum


We lost a number of special people over the year, local friends and our American veterans who served on Halesworth airfield during WWII. They will all be remembered.


We were very sad to learn that Bob Winters, 62nd FS, 56th FG, passed away on 13 December 2018 at the age of 94. He will be sadly missed.


It was with the greatest sadness we discovered that Sharon D had passed away. She died on 17 January 2019. Sharon was the daughter of Lt Col Leon Vance who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 5th June 1944”. Sharon received the medal at a special ceremony at Enid AFB when she was just 6 years old. A regular visitor to Halesworth during the 489th Reunions, Sharon made many friends in Halesworth. She was such a lovely lady and she will be sadly missed.


It was with great sadness our friend Pam Wilby passed away suddenly in March 2019. She had been a long-time member of the Friends of the 489th and helped at the museum for as long as she was able to. Her husband Sid had passed away only six months earlier. Pam was such a good friend and she will be very sadly missed.


We were so sad when, in April, our friend and founder member of the Airfield Museum passed away. Keith was part of the museum from the first days and he spent many hours helping in every way he could. His passion was photography and he took many stunning photographs of aircraft, some of which can be seen in the museum. He will be so very sadly missed by us all.


We were so sorry to learn that our friend Helen Freudenthal has passed away. Helen was the wife of Lt Col Charles Freudenthal, veteran and historian of the 489th Bomb Group. Helen and Charlie visited Halesworth a great number of times over the years and made many friends here. She will be very sadly missed.

MELVIN A GOLDBERG (Mel) – 489th veteran

We were sad to learn that Mel Goldberg passed away on 30 August 2019. He was just 21 years of age when he served as a Second Lieutenant and Navigator with the 489th Bomb Group during 1944. He flew 34 missions with the McMahon crew. He will be sadly missed.


The museum shop stocks a number of items which can also be bought via the museum website. In addition to items for sale on our website, we have sweat shirts, polo shirts and caps with 56th FG badges for sale in the shop. There are also model aircraft when available. Orders can be taken for clothing if we do not have your size.
This year we are able to accept payment by credit or debit card.


The volunteers have already been working on a number of projects at the museum over the winter. The usual maintenance and winter upkeep of the museum ….plus we have new exhibits to view.


There continues to be an incredible amount of interest in our Museum’s FACEBOOK page, mostly from our American veterans’ families. You can visit the Facebook page by just clicking on the ‘F’ (Facebook) link at the top of the screen on the museum website

All Newsletter correspondence to:

Halesworth Airfield Memorial Museum

Sparrowhawk Road

Upper Holton


IP19 8NH

Telephone 01986 835835 (answer machine)


email: info@halesworthairfieldmuseum.co.uk

Please note that all pictures and text within this publication are the copyright of the Halesworth Airfield Museum and must not be used, copied or distributed in any way without permission in writing from the Editor and Committee.

2020 Dates for your Diary:

Tuesday 24 March – Commemoration at Westhall Village Hall to remember the fallen of the B17 “I’ll Be Seeing You” which crashed on 24 March 1945.

Friday 8 May – VE Day Celebrations. The Museum will be open 2-4pm.

Monday 25 May – Memorial Day, Cambridge American Cemetery (Madingley)

2020 OPEN DAY at the Halesworth Airfield Museum on Sunday 30 August (Bank Holiday Sunday) - from 10.30am to 5pm. Car Boot pitches available. For further details contact the museum or Richard on 01986 835835.

Halesworth Airfield Museum
Halesworth Airfield Museum
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