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 - Autumn Edition – October 2020

Halesworth Airfield Museum

Autumn is already here and we are still living in strange times with the Covid-19 virus.
We are sorry that due to the ongoing virus Regulations and Conditions we are still unable to open the museum to the general public. However, our volunteers have been busy both inside and outside the museum, making good and building new cabinets for exhibits.
In June we had an email to the museum website from a Lincolnshire couple who said they would be holidaying in our area in September. They asked if they could visit the museum to pay tribute to an American veteran who had served on the Airfield in 1944. The 489th veteran, Jesus Maldonado, had sadly passed away earlier this year and due to Covid restrictions in the USA, not all of his family were able to be at his funeral. We were pleased to welcome the family friends, Ian and Elizabeth George and show them around the museum. The two visitors and the two museum volunteers, all wearing masks inside the museum, followed strict social distancing guidelines. We learned that Ian is an archaeologist and he had spoken at several events in the USA over the years, when he met our veteran’s family. He was so grateful to be able to see the museum and memorial site, and to pass on all the information he had learned to his friends in America.

In our last Newsletter, we met museum volunteer, Paul Muttitt who became a member of the team in 2019. This time we will meet Graham Matthews who is a specialist in model making. You will have seen his exquisite models displayed in our museum.

Graham Matthews

"Hello my name is Graham Matthews, I live in a village called Emneth in West Norfolk with my wife Sheila and our cocker spaniel Ollie.

My connection with Halesworth Airfield Museum began around 12 years ago when I was in the process of making a 1:48 Thunderbolt P47 scale model. I was researching the history and wanted to find out more about the 8th Airforce, my curiosity led me to the Norwich Forum and the 8th Airforce section, a lady working there said it would be worth making a visit to the Halesworth museum.

The following Sunday I made the 160 mile round trip to the museum. I was warmly welcomed by the members of the museum and shown the history of the 56th Fighter Group, 489th Bomber Group, the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron and HMS Sparrowhawk (which were also based in Holton). Impressed by the information and welcome I had received, a few weeks later I returned to the museum to have another look around and to ask if they would like a model built for them. One member showed me a black and white picture of a Flying Fortress B17 with a boat underneath and asked if it was possible to build one. I built a 1:72 Flying Fortress complete with the boat underneath, this can be seen in the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron cabinet.

Since building the Flying Fortress model I became a member of the museum and have continued to support activities and build numerous models for display.

I not only build scale models for the museum but I am also a member of the West Norfolk IPMS group. We meet two Wednesdays a month and attend various model shows around the country. When I am not building models (or researching about them!) I enjoy visiting other museums, air shows and gardening."
Halesworth Airfield Museum Both Graham and his wife Sheila are valuable members of the museum team. Sheila has helped with fundraising over the years, including the Tombola stall at Open Day and car boot sales donations. She is an amazing baker and provides numerous cakes and pastries at our various events.


FROM OUR FACEBOOK PAGE (Edited by Paul Starks)
In September, Tom Griep, the son of 5th ERS Catalina Co-Pilot, 1Lt H B Griep sent a crew photo and crew list to the Facebook page. The crew list came from an official Order page listing the crews to be sent to Station 365 (Halesworth). 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron:

Crew of 44-33917 ‘Going My Way’
(P) 2nd Lt Lynwood S Peterson, 0812305
(CP) 2nd Lt Herbert B Griep, 0829462
(N) 2nd Lt James R Johnson, 0740700
(E) Cpl Gomer D Anderson, 17026785
(RO) Sgt John M Fernandez, 19059577
(Rad Obs) Cpl Charles L Oakes, 35410656

Halesworth Airfield Museum The same Orders listed the following crew:

Crew of 44-33916
(P) 2nd Lt Donald E Hicks, 0696370
(CP) 2nd Lt William L Harrington, 0829472
(N) 2nd Lt Ben J Montgomery, 0676092
(E) Sgt Erwin Litz, 39083497
(RO) Cpl Francis H Nerney, 19150801
(Rad Obs) Sgt Albert L Williams, 34589065

In the 1980s the son of Co-Pilot Lt William Harrington took some aerial photos of Halesworth Airfield and sent them to the late Tony Kerrison. These can be seen in the museum.


We acknowledged VJ Day on Holton Airfield, remembering the fallen by raising the flags and placing floral tributes on each of the three memorials. We will remember them.



We were so happy to learn that 489th veteran, Navigator, James T Pace, celebrated his 100th birthday on 15th September 2020. He contacted Marjorie to say thank you for the best wishes. He wrote that he had a ‘very big party’ with a lot of people, and that they had a drive-by so people could wave, the national guard was there and the mayor. He said he had a very nice birthday, then asked “How is everyone there? I am doing pretty good for being a 100 (lol)”.
This was such an uplifting message and we feel so honoured to be able to tell their stories in our museum.


* If you have anything you would like to share for our next Newsletter, please let us know via the museum link. Mark your subject ‘Newsletter’.

* If you would like to read further about the Groups who served on our airfield, there are several books available. Most of these can be bought from the internet, with one available for purchase on our own Museum website.

BOOKS on the 56th FG

From the ‘Fighting Units in Colour’ series:
56th Fighter Group Part 1: Kings Cliffe Kindergarten – Halesworth Heyday written by Nigel Julian and Peter Randall. Available from the Museum website here.

Out in Front: A Polish Fighter Pilot’s Dramatic Air War – Witold ‘Lanny’ Lanowski; Published by Fighting High Ltd, 2014.


A History of the 489th Bomb Group by Charles H Freudenthal; American Spirit Graphics Corp.
Death Denied by Keith Turnham; Fairdale Publishing
In Hostile Skies – An American B-24 Pilot in World War II by James M Davis; University of North Texas Press
The Wrong Side of the Fence: a United States Army Air Corps POW in World War II by Eugene E Halmos Jr; White Mane Publishing Company.
Just An 18 Year Old During World War II by Earl Sutherland; Published by Lulu, Morrisville, NC. www.lulu.com
The Storm Clouds of War, Reflections of a World War II Bomber Pilot by Wilmer Plate; Published by Vilnius Press LLC, Portsmouth, NI.

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 clicking here.

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.

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