Lavenham hotel pays tribute to war effort with commemorative calendar
A commemorative weekend event marking the role Lavenham played during the Second World War has been compiled in a 2018 calendar.
Lavenham Airfield served as a base for more than 100 missions by the US Army Air Force 487th Bombardment Group, between 1944 and 1945, during The Friendly Invasion of East Anglia.
“Each year will get bigger and better”
The Swan Hotel and Spa organised a 1940s-themed event in May, which kicked off with a commemorative service at the Church of St Peter and St Paul.
The names of 237 fallen Lavenham and American war personnel were read out.
Villagers learnt about Beirne Lay Jr, the American commander of the 487th Bombardment Group, who was stationed at RAF Lavenham.
He went on to co-write the screenplay for Hollywood film, Twelve O’Clock High.
His niece, Libby Lay-Wilder, flew over from America especially for the event, to unveil a picture of her late uncle, which takes pride of place in the hotel’s bar.
A collection of wartime memorabilia is showcased in the bar, with more than 1000 signatures of former soldiers.
“It’s like a mini museum,” said Jane Larcombe, hotel business development manager and event organiser.
“We held the event to make sure we commemorated the Second World War soldiers.”
Other attractions included a vintage vehicle display in the market place and a vintage afternoon tea.
Villagers dressed in 1940s clothes to mark the event, with businesses invited to decorate their windows.
“There was a very good atmosphere,” said Mrs Larcombe.
Donations were given to Lavenham Pre-School, the Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, and the Church of St Peter and St Paul.
The event has been earmarked for the next three years in the lead up to the 75th anniversary of VE Day in 2020.
“Each year will get bigger and better,” added Mrs Larcombe.
The calendar is available for £11.99 from The Swan Hotel and Spa.