Grafton Underwood Extra – #1

The Memorial Service that took place at Grafton Underwood on Friday 22 May, will remain in the memories of those that attended, with very mixed emotions. During the service, we were all standing on what was once the end of the main runway where, nearly 70 years ago, hundreds of young men took off in their bombers, many never to return.

Three stories have emerged from that day, here is the first . . .

William C Toombs

Bill Toombs - 2Bill Toombs, the only veteran able to attend the Memorial Service, is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.

T/Sgt William C. Toombs flew with the 493rd Bombardment Group/861st Bomb Squadron out of USAAF Debach, which is near Woodbridge in Suffolk. The airfield was built by an engineering battalion of the US Army in 1943-4 and was assigned USAAF designation Station 152 (DC), opening in April 1944.RAF Debach

Bill’s first mission was on 6th June 1944, and he took part in the support of the D-Day landings. He flew 28 missions in all, twenty in B24 Liberators and eight in B-17 Flying Fortresses.  However, on his twenty-fourth mission, his aircraft was shot down. But his plane was one of the lucky ones, as all the crew survived and they managed to crash land their B-17 in Allied territory in Belgium.

Baby Doll the plane In the inimitable way that Americans love, all their aircraft were named and Bill’s was the “Baby Doll”. Clicking on the image below will enlarge to list the whole eleven members of the crew .

Crew of Baby Doll

To follow:

We all enjoyed watching the Sally-B fly over Grafton Underwood and Geddington, but what was it like from the Pilot’s point of view? As the comment goes, stay tuned . . .

One comment on “Grafton Underwood Extra – #1”

  • As kids in the 1950’s we would cycle to the old airfield and wonder at the “Mural’s” painted on the Barrack’s walls…and Officer’s mess no doubt, if only we knew which was which. I would love to find the Fergarson family who lived in Chestnut Ave. Kettering in the early ’50s, it is believed they came from Tacoma ,Washington. “Mr” Fergarson was at Chelvaston aerodrome tho.

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