Memorial bomber flies in for display

A wartime American bomber will be among the aircraft thrilling crowds at this year's Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival when it returns to the event after a six-year absence, The Journal can reveal.

Instantly recognisable as one of the classic heavy bombers from the second world war, the B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B will be appearing on both days of the show – its first visit to Lowestoft since 2006.

The only airworthy B-17 in the UK, Sally B is now operated from Duxford by a charitable trust and is assisted by a small army of 26,000 'friends' in a supporters club.

2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the arrival in East Anglia of the first elements of the American 8th Air Force, and in August 1942 they flew their first daylight mission with a force of 12 B-17s. By 1945 it was possible to count over 30 formations of B-17s – more than 1,000 aircraft – heading out over the Suffolk coast.

The return of their often depleted formations and crippled bombers staggering home over the town became the stuff of legend. As Vere McCarty, a USAAF Bombardier put it: 'I remember Lowestoft – at least as it appeared from the air. It was a very welcome view to see coming home across the North Sea from its not-so-welcome side.'

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On May 7th 1944, a B-17 on route for Berlin crashed in flames at Herringfleet after a catastrophic fire on the flight deck.

Five of the crew were killed and their names appear on a memorial stone near Ashby Church.

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Another B-17 crew were lost on November 9, 1944 when their bomber had an engine fire and began to break up over Lowestoft as it headed out to sea. An engine fell on the bomb-site that had been Waller's Restaurant in London Road North, and a bomb-bay door in a garden in Sussex Road. The aircraft crashed in the sea and although ASR craft searched the area, only a body was found.

Then on March 14, 1945, a B-17 which had turned back early from a mission burst into flames as it crossed in over Lowestoft and the crew began to bail out as the pilot turned the fuel and bomb-laden machine back towards the water.

The B-17 crashed and exploded near farm buildings at Carlton Colville and two crew members, including the pilot who had courageously stayed at the controls to give his crew a chance to jump, were killed.

In 2006, Dolores Moore, whose brother Doug Seavert had been one of the two crewmen who lost their lives that day, watched the Sally B's display as a guest of the Lowestoft Aviation Society. 3,093 B-17s were MIA (Missing In Action) with the 8th Air Force. This aircraft flies as a living memorial to all the brave young airmen of the USAAF who lost their lives in Europe in the second world war.

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