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>>> 'Bolero' Saturday 30th June - Day 2


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Only 8th Air Force air and ground crews would have been up earlier than the Bolero crews on Saturday morning. Briefing was at around 06:45 with the vehicles forming up on the Peri-track at 07:00. With more vehicles for day two, it took around 30 minutes to assemble all the participants. The two convoys of the previous day were abandoned in favour of one, with the vehicles in no particular order.

 

The first pics show everyone lining up and beginning to head off.

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The first airfield on day two was Horham, home to the 95th Bomb Group. Two long rows of vehicles parked in a field nearby with a short walk down to the museum. The old base hospital has been converted into a museum showing life at the base. The various rooms within the complex led themselves to a multitude of different displays with some layed out as they would have been and others having displays of art, artifacts and models showing the 95th BG.

 

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This first stop was planned for a 'breakfast' stop. 'Break' yes, 'Fast' certainly not! The food van that was laid on certainly wasn't the fastest service on the planet, with the owners incapable of cooking more than one order at a time. To be honest, the van didn't have 'Fast' Food written on the side, so we can't do them for the trade descriptions act, but it did taste good after the wait!

 

Some left the que to look around the museum until it was shorter, but unfortunately, it took around 2 hours for everyone to be fed.

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With the convoy well behind time, we pulled away from Horham hoping to catch up a little. Our next destination was Station 139, Thorpe Abbotts, home of the 100th Bomb Group. Thorpe Abbotts has one of the oldest Tower museums, started in 1977.

 

Adjacent to the Tower is the 351st Squadron perimeter track, of which about 2/3 is still there. This and a small remaining stretch of the secondary runway was our parking area. Some of the first vehicles there however were parked in and around the museum itself.

 

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Not long after arriving, two strange animals bounced past, and I'm yet to find out what they were, but they stood about two feet tall ( see attached pic ). The view from the top of the tower shows some of the vehicles parked on the secondary runway. The visit also gave everyone to have a drink and a bite to eat ( again, after all, it had been several hours since those at the front of the last food que were served! ). Still, everyone had a good wander around the various buildings and displays. Time at the museum was cut shorter than planned in order to be at Hardwick.

 

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It took a little while to get everyone back to their vehicles and before everyone left, departure order was changed. The vehicles were arranged in size/weight order?? halftracks, GMC's, Dodges etc ending with Jeeps. This also took some time to move the vehicles to the correct position.

 

As the convoy pulled away, Lynne and I waited, videoing and photographing the vehicles. The vehicles were initially bunched up along approximately 1/2 mile of perimeter. As they pulled away, the video started rolling and lasted about 5 minutes until the last Jeep rolled by and we jumped on the end of the convoy.

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Here are just four of the heavier vehicles on their way past heading West down the perimeter track. Despite the age of the concrete, it is still in very good condition. Many of the roads around the base are still there, but most are hidden under years of dead leaves, moss etc.

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Once more the rain came down as we trundled on down the narrow lanes towards Hardwick. When we arrived, there was a barbeque already well under way, and serving food at a rate we had only dreamed of a few hours earlier at Horham. As we neared the hangar, an old brick barrack hut stood alone in the field. Parking space was almost non-existant so all the vehicles remained on the road through the complex, which also wound its way past the memorial to the 93rd Bomb Group who were based there.

 

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The stop also allowed us to have a close look around Maurice Hammonds P-51 Mustang and other aircraft. The instrument shot is of the Boeing/Stearman PT-17 Kaydet basic trainer. 'Fools Rush In' is the artwork on the North American T-6 Texan, an advanced trainer. Next is a shot along the wing of 'Janie' Maurice's 353rd Fighter Group P-51D, and last is the port gun bay.

 

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I didn't know that Maurice was going to fly the P-51, and with sore feet, had wandered back to the Jeep for a sit down by the time the aircraft was wheeled out. It did however put me in the right place to get a cracking picture of the take off which probably wasn't possible from where everyone else was standing.

 

As the take off began and the power was applied, air was being pulled through the prop disc very quickly while the aircraft wasn't moving very fast. The propeller sucked the moisture out of the air creating spiral vortices from the blade tips, which I caught on camera. By the time the aircraft past the hangar and the on looking crowd, its forward speed had stopped this condensing of the moisture.

 

It also possibly gave me more of a top view of the aircraft as it made its low pass prior to landing. This was the third time I'd seen 'Janie' fly in just a few days as I'd seen the P-51 at Bungay the previous Sunday and also flying over Parham.

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After leaving Hardwick, some of the vehicles left the convoy to return to Parham rather than continue to Metfield. That was a shame as they missed one of the best sights of the day travelling down the zig-zig roads formed by using the lines of the runways and perimeter tracks.

 

As far as you could see, there were lines of vehicles travelling left to right and right to left, gradually heading to the far side of the airfield, and this was probably the one time where everyone could see the whole convoy at once. Once more a wreath was laid at the airfield memorial, this time the 491st Bomb Group.

 

The convoy returned back to Parham after Metfield, though some vehicles went off in search of fuel ( Jack please note - FUEL ), or food. Later in the evening, the '40's dance was held at a nearby village, but I didn't take any pics at the dance. Later still, a bunch of drunken HMVF'ers did their best to keep the camp awake until 3am. That happy band of drunks are better left unidentified!

 

That was day 2!!! Sunday should be coming later today.

 

Steve

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