East Anglia Air War Project--Invitation to 401st

By: Dr. Vernon L. Williams
On: 02/23/2006
I spoke with Norman Sisson the other day and later requested a way to let everyone in the 401st know about the East Anglia Air War Project.  Mr. Sisson suggested putting it up on the forum.  I have spent the last three years doing interviews and receiving written questionnaires from 8th Air Force personnel and British family members who lived around your bases during WWII.  Soon I will begin to write the book based on these materials.  I hope some of you of the 401st BG will participate.  Please take a look at the press release pasted below and our web site listed at the end.  The web has copies of the questionnaire for download and some of our color newsletters and much more.  Here is the press release:

ACU professor reports progress for the East Anglia Air War Project,sends out new call for members of 8th Air Force in WWII England

Dr. Vernon Williams, professor of history at Abilene Christian University, reports that the East Anglia Air War Project has completed the first three years of interviews and historical work focusing on the 8th Air Force in World War II England.

Williams said he hopes to hear from anyone who served with an 8th Air Force unit or British family members who lived near American installations in England during the  war. "This is an important study because we know little about the life they lived in these small English farming communities or the relationships that developed between the British farm families and their new American neighbors," Williams said.

Williams plans to spend the next two years completing both oral and written interviews that will focus on the World War II experiences of the air crews and ground personnel, their British hosts and the sense of community that held them together from 1942 to 1945.

During World War II, the United States established air bases in East Anglia in England's agricultural region. Throughout the area, small communities made way for the construction of the bases. "Farm land turned into concrete, Nissan huts and the implements of war as American bomber and fighter groups prepared for operations against Nazi-held targets deep inside Europe," Williams said. The sudden appearance of the Eighth Air Force in rural England, the rapid growth of the number of bases over a short time frame, and the daily struggle for life and death over the skies of Europe made for a unique sense of community in these British villages and towns.

For his project, Williams asks that anyone who served in the 8th Air Force in England during World War II, including air crewmen, ground personnel, medical staff, Red Cross, and administrative staff, contact him.  "This is a monumental project but one that must be done now," Williams said. "We are losing over a thousand World War II veterans per day now, and there is a sense of urgency about this work to save the history of these men and women of World War II."

Veterans interested in participating in this project can visit the project web site at www.acu.edu/anglia.  You may contact Dr. Williams at 325-674-2150, email him at vwilliams@acu.edu or mail details of their service to Dr. Vernon L. Williams, ACU Box 28130, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX, 79699.