My Father served in the 100th Bomb Group during the Second World War and was stationed at an airfield in Thorpe Abbotts, England. After he completed 35 missions, the Army shipped him to a hospital where he learned how to talk again. Then he started his life over.
He never wanted to return to Thorpe Abbotts and I can’t say I blame him. But I had always wanted to visit the place that must have changed him so much. I finally got to visit Thorpe Abbotts on my last trip to England. And I felt closer to him than I have ever been. Strange that it took a visit to such a far away place to feel this way. I made the journey for me, but I had returned for him.
I caught a train from London at Liverpool Street Station on the Norfolk line and traveled to Diss, the station closest to Thorpe Abbotts. A few years ago, I found a stub a train ticket stub for a London to Diss journey in my Father’s old wallet among some family papers. He had taken the same route from Liverpool Street Station when he returned to Thorpe Abbotts after a leave in London in March of 1944.
Thorpe Abbotts is a country village surrounded by millions of acres of farmland near the east coast of England. A perfect place for an airbase and there were many of them up and down the English coast. Before World War Two, Thorpe Abbots had a population of about 40. When the airbase opened, the Americans station there increased the population to 3,500.
Now it is a quiet village again and the rich and valuable farmland has been given back to the farmers to grow crops.
Here are some pictures:
The tall structure on the left side of the road is All Saint’s Church. Some members of the 100th Bomb Group were married there. Many more had funeral services there.
If you are in the area, try to visit Thorpe Abbotts and the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, started in 1977 by the locals.