398th Bomb Group

Origins of the English Friends of The 398th

By Malcolm ‘Ozzie’ Osborn
UK Friend of the 398th
August 2004

In 1971 Malcolm ‘Ozzie’ Osborn and his close friend Vic Jenkins formed the Nuthampstead Airfield Research Society (NARS). The society was dedicated to preserving the memory of the 398th Bombardment Group (Heavy). This would be achieved by detailed research of the 398BG history, then involving and sharing with the local community the results of that research. For five years Ozzie & Vic worked alone.

During that time, a group of 8th Air Force enthusiasts in England, including Ozzie & Vic, met and formed the Friends of The Eighth (FOTE) society. Friends of The Eighth expanded quickly and eventually had English members researching just about every ex-8th AF base in England. John Woolnough, a veteran of the 8th AF, came over to England for his unit’s reunion, visited a FOTE meeting and was impressed with the massive amount of enthusiasm being shown for all things ‘8th’. John went back to the US and subsequently formed the 8th Air Force Historical Society (8th AFHS). He always gave credit to the Friends of The Eighth for "making it all happen". The 8th AFHS society, in conjunction with FOTE, organised the first ever 8th Air Force reunion in Europe/England since WWII in 1976. Of course single individuals, had been visiting their bases prior to this.

Ozzie & Vic were delighted to play host to a small group of Veterans and their wives from the 398th Bomb Group. They visited the local landowner’s homes as well as a detailed tour of the remains of their old base at Nuthampstead. This was the first group from the 398th Bomb Group to return on an organised tour. Ozzie decided that the veteran’s memories were precious, and one day they would no longer be around to speak to about their experiences. So he took a little cassette recorder to the hotel where the group were staying, and one evening, after dinner, began to record short interviews with each man, starting with Jim Crouch.

The 398th continued to return to Nuthampstead every two years with the 8th AFHS. Ozzie and Vic continued on their own, with help from the landowners and their wives, to organise the visits. Ozzie tried hard to persuade the 398th members to form their own society, which they eventually did. The 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association, Inc. was formed at Lauderdale County, Alabama on 20th February 1981.

An Airfield 398th Memorial was subscribed to and unveiled at the 1982 Nuthampstead Reunion.

In late 1983, in preparation for the 1984 reunion, Ozzie, Vic, Elaine & Barry Tyler, Greta & Tony Barker, Beryl & Tony Clark, Robert & Francoise Dimsdale, and Wilfrid Dimsdale all met at Tony Clark’s farmhouse. Each put £10.00 in the centre of the kitchen table in order to commence a fund for a 1940’s style dance. Thus was born "The English Friends of The 398th".

Note: The above article has been placed on the 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association web site to share our history with a wider audience. You may view, download, print, copy and link to our content as you wish as long as the uses are personal or educational. 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association web page content cannot be used for commercial purposes nor placed on other web sites whether commercial, personal or educational, unless authorized in writing by the 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association Official Board and/or the author.