398th Bomb Group


US memorial made locally

Observer September 9, 1982

By Audrey Strube

A massive marble and granite memorial to the 398 Bomb Group of the US 8th Air Force—stationed at Nuthampstead during the war–is being made by the old-established Bishop’s Stortford monumental masons, J. Day and Son, of Station Road.

The memorial will be unveiled and dedicated at the Nuthampstead site beside the Woodman on Tuesday, September 21. It cost the Americans about 8,000 pounds; 7,000 pounds for the memorial itself and around 1,000 pounds for the foundations and two flagpoles– for the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack—which will flank it.

The three-part memorial, which will stand 6ft.6in. high when assembled, involves the heaviest single block of marble of any commission undertaken by the firm since the Pegram family took it over in 1940.

In charge of the commission is Mr. Michael Pegram— one of two brothers now running the firm–who has done a good deal of the work on it and all the organizing.

The carving on the central section was done by Mr. Stan Reynolds, the member of staff who does most of the firm’s carving. The picking-out of the carved dates 1944 and 1945 in gold leaf were done by the original owner of the firm, Mr. Douglas Pegram, Michael’s father, now retired.

The middle and bottom sections have been produced at Bishop’s Stortford, both in Italian Carrara marble. A Scottish firm, experts in sandblasting granite, has produced the top section in polished black granite with the B17 insignia sandblasted on one side and the outline of the old Nuthampstead airfield on other.

Responsible for co-ordinating the project at this end are Mr. Malcolm Osborn, from Harlow and Mr. Vic Jenkins, of Bishop’s Stortford.

These two men formed the Nuthampstead Research Association nine years ago, established contact with some of the airmen who flew out of Nuthampstead during the war, organized reunion visits and worked hard on researching the history of the 398 Bomb Group with the idea of writing a book about the group. This will hopefully be ready to go to press next year.

Said Mr. Osborn: “Getting the memorial erected and getting the Americans over to unveil it was phase one of the association’s project.”

Phase two is to complete the book–“Hell from Heaven”–the un official motto of the group —which tells their story from the time the group was activated in America in March 1943.

It covers their period of training in the States, their arrival in Nuthampstead in April 1944 —they replaced the 55th Fighter Group who had moved on to Colchester–the lengthening of the runway to accommodate Flying Fortresses, their missions and everything that happened to them until the group was finally de-activated at the end of the war.

He added that it was not so much a matter of writing as selecting. They had cupboards and cupboards full of material and photographs to choose from.

Mr. Osborn drafted the wording of the dedication on the memorial and wrote the tribute in verse.

Originally the Americans sent over a suggested design for the memorial incorporating the back-end of a Flying Fortress in reinforced concrete. But, said Mr. Osborn, after discussions with Mr. Pegram this more practical alternative design within the budget figure was decided on.

With thanks to 'The Herts and Essex Oberver' for permission to scan and show the September 9, 1982 398th Memorial article and its transcription.

With thanks to M. Osborn for preserving the article; W. Dimsdale for arranging permission with their Bishop's Stortford Office; and to Ruthanna Doerstler for the accurate transcription.

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