Cambridgeshire

War museum's WW2 USAAF photo appeal identifies girls

Janet Townsend, Tess and Gloria Grant, Attlebridge Image copyright IWM Roger Freeman Collection
Image caption Janet Townsend and Tess and Gloria Grant at RAF Attlebridge on 18 Aug 1944

Three girls snapped in a photograph at a World War Two US air force base in Norfolk have been traced as part of an appeal to help preserve its history.

The Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire is asking people to go through its website of images of the USAAF's time in Britain during the war - and share memories and information.

The photo is one of 5,000 collected by aviation historian Roger A Freeman.

The girls have been named as Janet Townsend and Tess and Gloria Grant.

Image copyright IWM Roger Freeman Collection
Image caption US bases often held open days for locals

The photograph shows the girls playing with a large ball at RAF Attlebridge at a party to mark the 466th Bombardment Group's 100th mission.

Staff from the American Air Museum website used the snap at events to publicise the project, which it hopes will create a digital record of US air force's time in Britain during World War Two.

The museum's public relations manager Esther Blaine said Pauline Souther got in touch after one of the events.

"She grew up in the UK and had moved to the States when she married," said Ms Blaine.

"She told us that her mother had been at the same party as the girls and that the girls were from the nearby village of Hockering in Norfolk."

Image copyright IWM Roger Freeman Collection
Image caption The American Air Museum project hopes to dig out previously untold stories

Project staff are now trying to trace Janet, Tess and Gloria and their families to help record the history of the air base.

By 1944, the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) employed 450,000 Americans in Britain and the majority of them were not fighter pilots or bomber crew.

It is hoped the project will reveal the largely untold stories of the USAAF bakery, laundry and catering teams which supported the airbases.

Staff are also asking people to share with them any family photographs which include WW2 US airmen and women during their time in the UK.

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