Where Time Stands Still

A few weeks ago I was looking for some more local car shows when I stumbled across an advert for Horham Air Base – home to the 95th Bomber Squadron, which is near Diss in Norfolk. One advert said it was a seventy-fifth anniversary of the squadron coming to the UK, on another advert it said there was going to be an Americana Day including a car show too. So I decided that this was an event I wanted to go to, I hadn’t been to the airfield and the theme was American based too. It also means that this was the third day in a row of car related events, I’m lucky to have a very understanding wife! I arrived early and was pointed to where I should park, at that time there was just three of us. I locked the car up and went to have a look around the airbase with its “American museum in the UK” as it has been advertised.

What I wasn’t expecting was people volunteers who were all be dressed in the 40’s clothing and period army uniforms as well. There was plenty of army vehicles parked along the hedges leading to the entrance.

Walking through the narrow entrance was the old style tin huts that were in remarkable condition and beautifully looked after. There was no entrance fee, as the site appeared to be surviving on the donations from the guests on the day. For the moment I pretty much had the place to myself before it officially opened to the public.

Inside the huts there were traders selling their historic items, books and period clothing.

There was a stall where a guy was selling original adverts from magazines, he was also playing the original 78’s to give the place such an authentic feel of the war era. It sort of made me feel humble to be honest to wonder what it must have been like to live here, knowing your next mission could be your last.

Walking from one hut to another was like a rabbit warren that just seemed to go on for miles. There was a bar, dance hall, officers mess and an entrance room/hall with lots of displays and models that was serving tea and coffees. Everything that was on display had a description to it. It would have taken days to read everything.

The little bits I found interesting was the posters and notes stuck to the doors;

There was the museum that wasn’t huge, but it really packed the artefacts in there. The whole area was done with sensitivity for the fallen aircrews and referenced the guys that didn’t make it back from their missions. There were uniforms and photos, personal objects, maps and medals, money and paper work. All just incredible to see with such attention to all the small details that makes a difference.

There was bombs, seats, various parts from the bomber planes along with a mock-up of the rear gunner on the bombers.

I must have spent hours in there because I was getting hungry and more people were coming in, as well as the unmistakable smell of the BBQ that was wafting around outside tormenting me, I just had to treat myself as it was getting near lunchtime now. The place was buzzing and outside the DJ was playing some original 78’s for the guests all sitting around eating and having the odd beer. There was a guy there whose father was in the “Desert Rats” and had dedicated himself to carrying on the stories that his father had passed down to him. The stories he told me about the conditions in the desert were just amazing. He had original rations for the troops, equipment and the uniform too. I hope these memoirs can be retold in years to come. It makes me sad to think that the it could all be forgotten one day.

The least area to explore and perhaps was my favourite little area, was the Military Police hut. I was in there on my own and I was literally standing in room where time had stood still. Everything was left just how it was back then, almost untouched, even down to the old magazine on the table.

I walked back to the car and found that the field allocated for the show cars had filled up. I would say some of the cars here are better than some official shows that I have been too in the past. The first pic is the early birds with virtually nobody else from the public here.

Some of the other cars that turned up for the day.

A great day on personal point of view, I had a little glimpse back in time to what it was like to live in those days.

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9 thoughts on “Where Time Stands Still

  1. An excellent post. In addition to your usual cavalcade of excellent vehicles, an enormous amount of historical artifacts and fascinating displays. An outstanding job of reporting. Thanks. FYI, here, I’ve always known the huts of half-sections of curved corrugated metal referred to as Quonset huts. I don’t know if that’s applied outside the U.S. or not. The only thing I can add to your delightful day.

  2. I was on my way to the Badlands in North Dakota when I stopped and I got talking to an old guy who ran the hardware store in Northfield, Minn. It turned out that he was a pilot based at Horham during the war and, at the time I had the use of an old US Army L4 Cub out of Priory Farm in Norfolk. I flew over the old base and took some pictures which I subsequently sent to him (it was pre-email era). He was delighted. These often over-looked shows are some of the best. Nice tribute to their efforts – well done.
    PS I think the mock up might be the waist gunner.

    1. Thank you Nigel, what great story. I could well be wrong about the gunner I read so much and thought I could remember it all. The show is definitely one of the best I have been to this year.

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