The memphis belle
Bassingbourn was home to one of the most famous B17 Flying Fortress Bombers of World War II, the ...
The B17 Flying Fortress the 'Memphis Belle' (Serial No. 41-24485) arrived at Bassingbourn on the Oct 14 1942.
Named the 'Memphis Belle' by her Pilot Capt. Robert Morgan, after his sweetheart back at home, she flew her first mission on Nov 07 1942 to Brest in France and would safely carry her crew, deliver their bomb load and return home again, a further 25 times, completing the 25th mission on May 17 1943.
Throughout her war-time service, the 'Belle' was bullet-ridden, flak damaged, on five separate occassions had her engines shot out, and once returned to Bassingbourn with her tail almost shot off; but not one member of her crew sustained any major injuries.
Between late 1942 and mid-1943 Hollywood film Director, William Wyler came to Bassingbourn, and made a combat documentary called 'MEMPHIS BELLE'; it was said that this film helped to keep America in the war.
The Memphis Belle and her crew would complete their 25th and final mission; to fly the "Belle" home and embark upon a 76-day war bond tour of the USA, encouraging the people of America to buy War Bonds and support the continued efforts of the American Military.
Today, the Memphis Belle has been restored and is soon to be put on public display in May 2018 at the National Air Force Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB in the USA. Declared as a 'national aviation treasure' the 'Belle' will never fly again.
And though she will never be seen in the skies over England again, her spiritual home will always be on the runways and perry track of Bassingbourn.