The Official Newsletter of the 56th Fighter Group Memorial Association Friends of the 489th Bomb Group and 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron Friends
SPRING EDITION - February 2023
56th Fighter Group Pilots
Lt Dale E Stream, Lt Claude E Mussey, Lt Donald M Funcheon
MIA 22 March 1944
Memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing
Cambridge American Cemetery, UK
Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to our first Newsletter of the year!
The museum closed for the winter at the end of October but our volunteers continue to work on jobs in the museum. This work will continue right up until our first Open Day of the 2023 season – which is Sunday 3rd April (between 2pm and 5pm).
MUSEUM OPENING TIMES:
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 here!
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A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY:
The Museum AGM will be held on Sunday 5th March at 10am.
ALL MEMBERS WELCOME
80th ANNIVERSARY YEAR:
July 2023 sees the 80th anniversary of the 56th Fighter Group arriving in Halesworth. We shall commemorate this occasion.
Details to be announced later.
2022 VISITORS TO THE MUSEUM:
Here is a quick review of some of our visitors over the last year. You may have seen some of these on our Facebook page, but to recap:
Edgar Sewter Primary School Visit:
Just before the school summer holidays, we welcomed 80 primary school children to the museum. We had many activities planned for them including a life-raft demo with an inflatable raft and a lively parachute game. We introduced the children to the three memorials and they made artworks inspired by the stones. Inside the museum another group explored the exhibits and drew pictures in their sketchbooks. There were lots of questions and fun. The children were able to handle objects from WWII and wore some flight jackets and uniforms. We hope to repeat the school visits this year.
Photos above: Edgar Sewter School visit ‘Life Raft Demo’ and Parachute game
The family of Alex Gobbout Jr 56th FG Pilot:
On 11 September 2022 we had a visit from Melanie Steele, granddaughter of Alex Gobbout Jr, Pilot with the 56th Fighter Group (61st fighter Squadron).
Melanie and her husband spent the afternoon looking around the museum and showing us some of the fantastic photos that she has of Alex in his time with the 56th.
Sgt Dominic A LaBud: We were visited by Susan Cross on 7 August 2022. Susan’s father Sgt Dominic A LaBud served at Halesworth with the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron as a ground crew member. Susan showed us a box of very interesting items belonging to her dad, from his time in England.
CAPTAIN WALTER L FLAGG:
We are very honoured to have been given the medals of 56th fighter group 63rd squadron Captain Walter L Flagg. These will be on display in the museum when we reopen in April. We would like to thank Captain Flagg's children Judy Ranson and Greg Flagg for their very generous donation.
MEMORIAL DAY 2022:
Memorial Day was on Bank Holiday Monday, 30th May, and our museum volunteers were present at the Memorial Day Service at the American Cemetery, Cambridge (Madingley). Floral tributes were placed by the wall of the missing 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.
Photos above: The graves of Lt Robert Clendinning and Lt Gilman Sund, 489th Bomb Group - KIA 27 September 1944.
VISIT TO RAF LAKENHEATH 2022:
Our museum volunteers and friends were lucky enough to be invited to RAF Lakenheath once again, to be the guests of the 48th Fighter Wing. We began our visit – early morning – on the flight-line, where we had a close-up view of the aircraft getting ready to depart. Col Stangl was at the flight line to welcome us. Later, arrangements had been made for us to go in a flight simulator which was an amazing opportunity. Some volunteers flew well, but others ‘crashed and burned’. Everyone enjoyed it immensely. This really was a great day and thanks go to Hazel again for all her organisation.
Photo above: the fire truck.
AIRFIELD MUSEUM OPEN DAY:
The ‘August Open Day’ is our annual fundraising event and each year we are supported by our many local friends and others from far away. Our visitors are drawn by the military vehicles, car boot stalls, barbecue and bar and also the Crompton Collection with thanks to Bruce Crompton of ‘Combat Dealers’. The popular ‘Tea Tent’ with its homemade cakes, sandwiches, sausage rolls and other tasty treats, is always full and we pour hundreds of cups of tea during the day. Thank you all who continue to support us – the museum couldn’t survive without you!
HALESWORTH HERITAGE WEEKEND:
Halesworth Heritage Open days took place on 18/19 September. The museum was open on both days and Richie gave an interesting talk with slides on both days. This event gives us a great opportunity to welcome visitors who would not normally visit the museum. Many of the people who came said they would visit again.
REMEMBRANCE DAY 2022:
We were honoured to have American servicemen and women from RAF Lakenheath and their families with us on this important day. Following the placing of poppy wreaths at the village War Memorial, the Remembrance Day Service took place inside the St Peter’s Church, Holton. The congregation later walked from the church to the airfield when the names of the fallen were read aloud by our young American friends. 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 remembered them all.
Photo above: Remembrance Service 2022.
On 30 September BBC Radio Suffolk visited the museum to conduct an interview about the P47 wreckage recently trawled up off the coast near Lowestoft. On 22 March 1944, three P47 Thunderbolts took off from Halesworth Airfield to join up with a group of bombers. However, in the thick cloud the three planes tragically collided and crashed into the sea. The pilots, Donald Funcheon, Claude Mussey and Dale Stream were lost. Part of the cockpit from one of the planes was recovered by the skipper of the fishing boat and he has donated this to the Halesworth Airfield Museum. It is in pretty good condition after lying on the seabed for almost 80 years, and it is on display in the museum. Photo above: 56th FG remains of cockpit.
A new book to look out for is ‘Paper Doll’ written by the great-nephew of S/Sgt Eugene “Bud” Peterson, a Gunner with the 489th BG. S/Sgt Peterson lost his life, along with all other crew members when his B24 ‘Paper Doll’ collided with another 489th B24 ‘Special Delivery II’ over Blythburgh marshes, returning from a mission on 27 September 1944. There were no survivors from these two aircraft. The book is highly recommended.
“Paper Doll” by Brian Peterson. It is also available as an audio book/Kindle.
We sadly lost a number of special people over the year. Local friends and American veterans who served on Halesworth airfield during WWII. All will be remembered.
James T Pace, Navigator, 489th Bomb Group (844th Squadron)
Jim passed away on 9 November 2022 aged 102. As a 489th Navigator, Jim flew Lead crew with Pilot Gus Gaczi on the B24 ‘Pin Up Girl’. Before the war Jim was a teacher, and returned to teaching after the war. But he joined the National Guard and his Unit was later activated. He served in the Korean war for eight months. Jim returned to Halesworth for a visit in the 1980s. We send our condolences to his son Jim and the family.
Photo above: Lt James T Pace 489th BG
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There continues to be an incredible amount of interest in our Museum FACEBOOK page. This can be accessed here.
All Newsletter correspondence to:
Halesworth Airfield Memorial Museum
Telephone 01986 875084 (answer machine)
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.
Dates for your Diary:
2023 Museum AGM - Sunday 5th March at 10am in the museum.
2023 OPEN DAY: at the Halesworth Airfield Museum on August Bank Holiday Sunday from 10.30am to 5pm. Car Boot pitches available. For further details contact the museum.
MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION FORM: Click here to become a member of the Museum.