US Air Force veterans paid a flying visit to Medway during a trip to the UK to commemorate colleagues killed during the Second World War.
Rochester Bridge Trust hosted the five veterans from 457th Bomb Group at a special lunch in the Trust’s medieval chapel. They had earlier been given a tour of the Cathedral and the surrounding area by the City of Rochester Society.
“It was an honour to meet the veterans with their families and friends, and their visit reminded all of us at the Trust of the debt of gratitude Great Britain owes to our American allies,” said Junior Bridge Warden Tony Goulden, who hosted the lunch.
Mr Goulden explained: “The Trust owns an estate at Conington in Cambridgeshire which includes the former Glatton Airfield where 457th Bomb Group was stationed during the war. “The veterans return to the base every other year to pay their respects to their fallen comrades, and when we met them on their 2010 visit, they accepted our invitation to visit Rochester next time they were in the UK.”
Later that day the Senior Warden, Russell Race, joined the veterans in Peterborough at a dinner paid for by the Bridge Trust to mark the end of this year’s reunion.
The 457th Bomb Group was based at Glatton Airfield during 1944 and 1945. During that period the 457th flew 236 missions and lost 83 aircraft (B-17s) to enemy action.
There is a monument at Conington Church to the aircrew who lost their lives during the conflict, and many are buried at the American Cemetery at Madingley on the outskirts of Cambridge.
1. The Rochester Bridge Trust is a charitable trust that exists to maintain the old and new bridges at Rochester and serve the travelling public. It is the only surviving bridge trust still serving its original purpose, and it has served the people of Kent since 1399. The Trust also supports numerous community and education projects across historic Kent and Medway.
2. The Trust’s assets all derive from endowments of land and money in the 14th and 15th centuries and are carefully managed in order to provide an income to fund bridge maintenance and local charitable grants. The Trust receives no external funding and is regulated by the Charity Commission.
For more information:
The Rochester Bridge Trust
Kent ME1 1QE
Tel: 01634 846706
Fax: 01634 840125