Community News: Nuthampstead, Station 131…

In 1942, Nuthampstead, a quiet town located in North Hertfordshire, was transformed overnight to accommodate the needs of the 398th Bombardment Group.

The construction of the airfield at Nuthampstead involved clearing forests and levelling fields to create runways and necessary facilities. This transformation highlighted the urgency and scale of wartime preparations during that era.

Over 80 years later, on 25th May 2024, over 300 members of the public, family members and supporters joined the volunteers of the Nuthampstead Airfield Museum gathered at The Woodman Inn, Nuthampstead, in commemoration of the WW2 US servicemen and their contributions to the war efforts. The day was made even more memorable through the efforts of re-enactors, vintage vehicle enthusiasts, musical performances by local musicians, as well as the tireless hospitality of The Woodman Inn – the only pub in the UK that had an airfield built around it! Attendees of the event on Saturday were treated to an 8-minute flyover by The Sally B, the last flying B-17 bomber in the UK, as well as a visit by the pilots, and Operator Ellinor Sallingboe.

The 398th Bombardment Group, equipped with B-17 Flying Fortresses, flew numerous missions over Europe, contributing significantly to the strategic bombing efforts. Their missions often involved high risks, with crews facing formidable anti-aircraft defences and enemy fighters. The bravery and dedication of these airmen were instrumental in the success of the Allied air offensive.

The 80th anniversary of the 398th Bombardment Group’s arrival in England, May 25th 2024, marked a significant historical event. This group, part of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, played a crucial role in the Allied air campaign against Nazi Germany. Their arrival in England was part of the broader buildup of American air power in Europe, which culminated in intense bombing campaigns that targeted key German industrial and military infrastructure.

‘’The Woodman Inn is dedicated to acknowledging and preserving the memories of the men and women who served and were stationed at Nuthampstead during the war’’, says Natalie Duncker of Nutwood Pubs, ‘’Our ongoing partnership with the Nuthampstead Airfield Museum not only ensured that this memorial event was a resounding success, but that we are also able to recognise and support the community that we operate in.’’

Commemorating this anniversary not only honours the memory of the 398th Bombardment Group and their contributions to the war effort but also serves as a reminder of the extensive logistical and engineering feats accomplished during World War II. The rapid construction of the Nuthampstead airfield exemplifies the remarkable adaptability and determination of the Allied forces during one of history’s most challenging periods.

The Nuthampstead Airfield Museum is open on the second and last Sunday of each month between April and October. American Founder and trustee of the museum, Marilyn Gibb-Rice, encourages everyone with an interest in aviation and WW2-era history to visit the museum. ‘’We may be a small museum, but we hold the treasures of a generation who dedicated their lives in service to our countries, it is our duty to preserve their memories. We won’t forget their dedication and sacrifices.’’

Article & photos supplied by Nutwood Pubs