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>>> Operation Bolero - The Prequel - June 24th & June 27th


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My Bolero Tour began a week before everyone else, with a holiday in Suffolk. At the camp site, there was a poster advertising a Veterans day at the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, with a display of military vehicles. This museum is located just beside the old 8th Air Force Liberator base known as Bungay.

 

Since I had the jeep with me anyway, and the weather wasn't great for anything else, plus the day had a Bolero feel to it, Lynne and I set off for the museum which was about 15 miles from the camp site. I think the mixed weather put a few people off taking their vehicles out as when we arrived, there was only a fire engine there!

 

There was however plently to see, and a few surprises. The first four pictures show Lynne with 'Jessie', the fire engine, a Messerschmitt bubble car and a Vickers Valetta, one of only two surviving examples.

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There is a huge amount of information and artifacts at the museum in addition to the aircraft and is certainly worth a visit if you are in the area. One Nissen hut is dedicated to the 446th Bomb Group stationed at Bungay, and is full of 8th Air Force equipment and clothing. A small but impressive memorial stands outside.

 

Also in attendance was Commander Ken Wallis and the real star of one of the 007 Bond films, 'Little Nellie', the Autogyro. Cmdr Wallis, a wartime Wellington pilot, is now around 93 and still regularly flying.

 

The main exhibition hanger was full, but stalls, a stage, and seating were also added for the event.

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The two surprises during the day, was a display by Maurice Hammond in his P-51 which due to the weather popped in and out of the clouds at the higher points of the display. It was however dry, if dull, so the display was well appreciated.

 

The second aricraft to display was the BBMF Dakota, but as can be seen from the picture out of my Jeep, the rain came just before the Dak, sending most people running for cover and so missing the flypasts. I managed to shoot a couple of pics from inside the Jeep, but the rain was so heavy, the aircraft appears very fuzzy.

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A few days later on the 27th June, I headed off to Station 139 - Thorpe Abbotts, one of the Bolero destinations. For some time now, I've wanted to take my Jeep there and recreate a wartime picture that my Jeep scheme was based on. Having the Jeep in the area gave me the ideal chance.

 

The museum itself began in 1977, and is probably the best museum to the 8th Air Force in England. The pictures below show the tower as it was found in 1977, and as it is today. A great deal of work has been carried out over the years expanding the buildings to create more display areas, but with the founders of the museum 30 years on from the start, they are looking for new members to help run the place.

 

The visit also allowed me to revisit my first B-17 model, the small 1/10th scale one!

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My picture recreation fortunately had good sunny weather. The original picture featuring the Group Engineering Officer, Eugene "Butch" Rovegno, was taken from the balcony of the tower, looking towards the Night Flying Equipment Store. The positioning of myself and the Jeep isn't exactly right, but close enough.

 

While in uniform, I took the opportunity for some other pics, one of which is me on the tower, waiting for the bombers to come home.

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I also forced Lynne into her HBT's for a photograph looking like she knows what she is doing with a spanner! Afterwards, I put on my flight kit for some other pics around the tower. While looking strikingly like 'Texas' George ( who is from Chicargo Mrs Jack! ), we are not related!!

 

That concludes my Bolero Prequel.

 

More of the real thing soon!!

 

Steve

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