Discover the rich history of the 493rd Bomb Group Museum at Debach Airfield in Suffolk, England. Home to the renowned “Helton’s Hellcats” Station 152 USAAF from 1944 to 1945, this museum showcases the incredible stories and sacrifices of the brave men who served here during World War II. Explore the fascinating history, explore the restored airfield, and pay tribute to the heroes who called this place home.
Debach Airfield: A Historic Site
Debach Airfield holds a significant place in history as one of the last 8th Air Force heavy bomber stations occupied by the American 8th Army Air Force during World War II. This former home of the 8th USAAF 493rd Heavy Bomber Group witnessed the courageous efforts of the “Helton’s Hellcats,” named after the group’s first CO, Colonel Elbert Helton. The group flew its first mission on D-Day, June 6th, 1944, making Debach the last Eighth Air Force heavy bomber station to become operational.
A Rich History from 1913 to Today
The land on which the airfield stands was originally farmed by the Taylor Family since 1913. However, it was later requisitioned by the RAF as a proposed airfield during the war. Construction work began in 1942, carried out by the 820th & 829th Engineer Battalion (Aviation) of the US Army. The airfield was built to meet the AMDGW specification for a class A heavy bomber station, featuring a 2000-yard runway and two intersecting 1400-yard runways. Accommodation for 2,900 personnel was provided in dispersed nissen hut living sites to the southwest of the field.
Paying Tribute and Educating
The 493rd Bomb Group Museum at Debach Airfield aims to preserve the history of the brave men and the airfield itself. The museum showcases the restoration efforts and honors the stories and memories of those who served during the war. Open Days are held on the last Sundays of select months, including April, May, June, July, August, and September. Additionally, Wednesdays during the “Open Season” offer an opportunity to visit the museum between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm, with parking available. Group visits are also welcome, but kindly schedule an appointment in advance.
Plan Your Visit
To fully appreciate the history and significance of the 493rd Bomb Group Museum at Debach Airfield, mark your calendar for the upcoming Open Days or visit during the designated Wednesday opening hours. Entrance to the museum is free, although donations are appreciated to support the preservation efforts. Remember to book your accommodation at Stonham Barns Park in advance to secure your stay. Immerse yourself in history and bravery, then retreat to the comfort and relaxation of Stonham Barns Park for a truly memorable experience in Suffolk.
Note: For further information and detailed opening times, please visit the museum’s events page or contact them in advance, especially for Wednesday visits, as it is a working day at the museum.
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