It was and a cold and miserable November day in Norwich during the later stages of World War Two (November the 24th, 1944). Clouds were hanging heavy and grey over Horsham St Faith’s Airfield and the European Air War had been put on hold – briefly – by this heavy cloud-cover which was stretching out far across the continent. Sitting patiently upon the airfield’s aprons were a collection of freshly-fuelled American B24 Liberators, waiting for the all-clear to head off up and into those murky skies above Norfolk. The young American airmen crammed into these large bombers must have been feeling fairly relaxed, for today they wouldn’t be putting their lives in danger by heading out across the North Sea and deep into enemy airspace; instead, they were about to take advantage of the bad weather and head off up into the low-hanging clouds above Norfolk for some much-needed low-visibility flight training.
A B24 Liberator going by the name of “Lady Jane” was one of the aircraft queuing up for the runway and today her crew was made up of a collection of young American men, all in their early twenties:
Ralph Dooley (Pilot), Arthur Akin (Co-Pilot), Paul Gorman (Navigator), Johnnie Jones (Engineer/Gunner), Oscar Nelson (Ball Turret Gunner), John Phillips (Engineer/Gunner), Don Quirk (Tail Gunner), Ralph Von Bergen (Waist Gunner) and Paul Wadsworth (Radio Operator).