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Friends Of Leiston Airfield Official Gallery

In January 1944 I would have said to the troops of the 357th Fighter Group ‘Welcome to Leiston Airfield’. But it’s now August 2010 and to all you veterans and friends I say ‘Welcome to the Cakes & Ale Park’.
Why is it so called, well , Peter Little who started the park is an admirer of the English author Somerset Maughan who wrote a novel called The Cakes & Ale. Peter started, and still runs , another park near Ipswich called The Moon & Sixpence which is another book by the author.
So what is the Cakes & Ale Park. I think, and my wife and I have been resident for 20 years, that it’s a very pleasant holiday caravan, or trailer park, a great escape from the hustle and bustle of London where we live.
Set on 35 acres of the former 363rd Flight Line on Leiston Airfield, the caravans are set around the taxiway, hardstands and revetments which have, over the years, been landscaped so that to the uninformed it is hard to image the events that unfolded here 67 years ago.
The first picture shows the main gate to the park but all those years ago was the entrance to one of the fuel dumps.
 

 
Entrance to Cake & Ale Park
 
Gateway to Cakes & Ale Park
 
View from Gateway to 363rd Flight line
 
Cakes & Ale Park Office, Yoxford Boys Bar & Mustang .mmemorial
 
Mustang .Mmemorial to 357th Fighter Group
 
Inside of the Bar
 
Patches of 357th Fighter Group and Ohio Air National Guard
 
'Kit' Carson's Nooky Booky
 
The bar area
 
The bar area
 
Cabins available to rent
 
Gus's Hut
 
Gus's Hut
 
Collage of photographs
 
Collage of photographs
 
Collage of Photographs
 
History of the 357th & 358th Fighter Groups
 
Introduction to Gus Clutten & Joe DeShay
 
Pictures on the ceilin - we use all available space
 
Working airfield communication radio circa 1944 but not from Leiston
 
Working crossbar and flarepath lights same as used by but not from .Leiston
 
Explanation of lights
 
The airfield
 
Thre Roll of Honour
 
Collage of photographs
 
Sheet music of the '40's
 
Looking back from Gus's Hut to the Office.
 
Looking down the taxiway towards Harrow Lane, Old Crow hardstand on the left
 
Old Crow hatdstand
 
View across the main runway from taxiway
 
Harvesting along runway 13/31
 
Memorial on Harrow Lane
 
Memorial on Harrow Lane
 
Left hand Roll of Honour tablets
 
Right hand tRoll of Honour tablets
 
Looking down Harrow Lane towards the main runway
 
.remains of 2/3rds main runway now farmland
 
Remains if 1/3rd of main runway
   


So who are The Friends of Leiston Airfield.  and what do we do?

Mainly we are owners of caravans on the park who, 15 years ago, decided that the location of a small memorial erected in 1991 was so inaccessible on a 362nd hardstand that a new location was needed so that the public could see it. We were only about a dozen strong but we resolved to build a larger memorial on the public road, Harrow Lane, which now crosses the old airfield.

This we did and it was unveiled by the Commander 3rd United States Air Force Major General William Hinton in May 1998. Our guests from the 357th Fighter Group Association were Joe DeShay, Crew Chief with the 364th Ftr Sqn and his wife Ellen, Don Kocher, pilot with the 364th Ftr Sqn and his wife Freda, Pat Buzzeo, Crew Chief with the 362nd Ftr Sqn and his wife Audrey and John Roche, an armourer with the 364th Ftr Sqn and his wife Grace.

Since that time we have welcomed many veterans and their wives, their children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Some times the visits have been very poignant such as when we hosted the sister of Walter Corby who was killed in an At-6 returning from France with S/Sgt Melvin Schueneman. As she was leaving she told me that she felt closure after all these years having visited the spot where he crashed near Dover and the airfield where he flew his last mission.

Our purpose is to ensure that the sacrifices made by the men of the 357th Fighter Group are not forgotten. We are still a very small group, we have some members from outside the park, some live locally others not. Our fund raising ensures that each year we can hold our Memorial Day event and to maintain the memorials, the model P-51 outside the club house which we are now responsible for, Gus’s Hut which houses a small collection of memorabilia and photographs and lastly to provide visitors with a wreath to lay at the memorial should they wish to do so. Oh yes, we also have a lot of fun raising the funds.

Gus’s Hut. Why is it so called. Gus Clutten lived in Rose Cottage on Harrow Lane bordering the airfield. It was deemed to close so the family were moved out to a nearby village. Gus’s was invalided out of the Royal Navy and found work on the airfield. Later he worked on the park for many years, this was his office, and he was the inspiration to form ‘The Friends’. When he died we took over the hut and dedicated it to him and Joe DeShay.

For further information, comment or contributions

Contact Peter Saunders
e-mail: foleistonairfield@btinternet.com

or write to:

The Friends of Leiston Airfield
Cakes & Ale Park
Abbey Lane
Therberton
Suffolk
IP16 4TE

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