Back From 8th Air Force WW II Trip to England: Report on Visits

Quite an experience, all except the mega-cold that I returned home with (two negative COVID tests yesterday, make it apparently ‘just’ a really bad cold).  I’ll keep this to a brief overview, given my English-supplied currently under the weather status!

Our group of twenty (including some spouses), all associated with the National Museum of the Mighty Eighty Air Force (Pooler/Savannah, GA), visited seven former 8th AF bomber or fighter installations, including the wartime principal “homes” of the Eighth’s 100th, 95th, and 390th U.S. Bomber Groups, and that of the 361st U.S. Fighter Group, where some of the original buildings still exist (after refurbishment) at both the bomber and fighter locations.  Although the wartime runways have long ago either been torn up and/or have become overgrown, as nature saw to their demise over the years, all of these sites visited have volunteer-run museums still very much in active operation.  It was refreshing to see the enthusiasm these local Englishmen and women had for our united past histories, and the remembrances expressed for the sacrifices made by American aircrew members there, in the interest of preserving freedom for especially England, but also for all of Western Europe (and beyond).  Our English hosts were thankful for the decisive role played by our U.S. forces in the air and demonstrated that fact very clearly.  And about those substantial U.S. 8th AF sacrifices: 26,000 8th AF crew members deceased / 28,000 8th AF POW’s).

We were also privileged to visit High Wycombe, the HQ for the 8th AF and RAF Bomber Command, followed by an opportunity to take steps (78 of them!) down underground to witness the actual WW II Battle of Britain command bunker, maintained in the exact same condition as it was in during that fateful fight for the preservation of Britain from the German onslaught in 1940.

Three other visits really stand out from our time among historic 8th Air Force operations: the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, the American Cemetery at Madingley (Cambridge), and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.  Duxford buildings contain huge exhibits of both American and British WW II bombers and fighters.  The American Cemetery features carefully manicured graves of American war dead and a lengthy wall of names dedicated to American military, from all five branches, missing from WW II combat.  The majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral in London took some substantial bomb damage during the Battle of Britain. There is a section within the main floor of the Cathedral (American Chapel) dedicated to the memory of America’s war dead who served and saved Britain (Roll of Honor).

All in all, a well-planned trip in tribute to the significant contributions, and sacrifices, to the war effort by the American Army’s Eighth Air Force.  The English still teach lessons in school about the war, and America’s role in maintaining England’s freedom, both during the direct German bombing attacks (Eagle Squadrons), as well as throughout the duration of the fight for England and Europe’s survival and freedom. One wishes the same level of instruction, about the historic service and sacrifices of America’s young men and women, fighting and dying for the cause of world freedom, was still a universal part of American school instruction.

Time to turn our attention, now, to today’s incredibly important midterm vote in the vital interest of saving, salvaging, restoring and then, once again, preserving America’s vital independence and freedom.   Citizen liberty is at the very core of the Founder’s ‘dream’ that became the American Republic we cherish.