Brave US airmen who crashed in Great Yarmouth village to be remembered

The crew that manned the crashed bomber that landed in Belton

A picture taken in America of the crew that went onto to man the Belle of the East - Credit: Rchard Lindsay

They were nine brave Americans who will always be remembered in a Norfolk village.

In 1944 the Liberator B-24 bomber, the Belle of the East, crashed in Belton, near Great Yarmouth, on its way back from a bombing mission over Germany.

The crash saw the plane lose two engines after a hitting a tree and she then ploughed into a ditch and flipped on her back.

Some of the crew had bailed out by parachute with remaining members being hauled out of the wreckage by villagers.

Bombers similar to the Belle of the East

Bombers similar to the Belle of the East - Credit: Supplied

Amazingly none of the crew suffered major injuries in the crash, which happened due to a fuel problem as the bomber flew back to its base at Rackheath, north of Norwich.

The dramatic incident is remembered with a plaque at the Tavern Pub, close to where the crash happened, and the naming of a new road, The Belle of the East, in 2006. 

And the scenes of parachuting airmen and villagers rushing to the stricken crew's aid will be remembered again on April 16 with the rededication of the memorial plaque at the pub.

S/Sgt Marvin Berman was the radio operator on the Belle of the East

S/Sgt Marvin Berman was the radio operator on the Belle of the East - Credit: Richard Lindsay

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The event will also involve Second World War vehicles and reenactors and 1940s music from DJs Sgt Bilko and Flying Fortress.

Richard Lindsay is a member of the Belton Historical and District Society who has researched the crash.

He said April's rededication will help all residents pay tribute to and in some cases learn about the brave crew and villagers from that fateful day on August 25, 1944.

The plaque remembering that fateful day in August 1944 in Belton when the Belle of the East crash landed

The plaque remembering that fateful day in August 1944 in Belton when the Belle of the East crash landed - Credit: Richard Lindsay

Mr Lindsay, who served in the RAF as an armourer, said: "There are people in the village that don't know the story.

"We thought the rededication would help tell the story of the crew and the villagers from that day and at the same time people can have good fun."

The event will run from 10am and 5pm and will see the mayor of the borough of Great Yarmouth Adrian Thompson rededicate the plaque.

A flashback to 2006 when Primrose Williams and Hazel Davies officially unveiled the new road sign

A flashback to 2006 when Primrose Williams and Hazel Davies officially unveiled the new road sign and plaque remembering the crashed USAAF Liberator - Credit: Archant

The Belle of the East had flown a mission to bomb an aviation museum in Lubeck.

All of the crew carried on the fight against Nazi Germany and returned safely to their homes across the pond.

She was named Belle of the East as six of her original crew came from the east coast of America.

Airman recalls crash

David Grinnell was a 21-year-old gunner when the Liberator came down in Belton

David Grinnell was a 21-year-old gunner when the Liberator came down in Belton - Credit: Richard Lindsay

In 2006 a gunner from the Belle of the East, David Grinnell, recalled: "We were on our approach to Rackheath air base from a mission in Germany when something went very wrong.

"We lost altitude rapidly and the next thing I remember was scrambling out of a large hole in what was left of the Belle of the East.

"I was dazed but did not have even a scratch. It was comforting to sit on terra firma and assure the kind and concerned folks of Belton that I was fine, thank you."

Artwork on the crashed bomber

Artwork on the crashed bomber - Credit: Richard Lindsay

The Belle of the East was part of 467th Bomb Group, or the "Rackheath Aggies" as they came to be known. 

The group flew B-24 Liberators on missions from April 1944 and had the best overall standing for bombing accuracy within the Eighth Air Force.