Andover Events Local News

Museum talk: 26,000 airmen lost

Mighty Eighth Bomb Group Airmen

Continuing a successful series of lectures, historian Mike Peters returns to the Army Flying Museum at Middle Wallop on 27th March.

Mike will present the story of the Eighth Air Force that, through continuous daytime sorties, lost 26,000 airmen during the Second World War.   

This latest lecture begins its story in February 1942, when a reconnaissance party of United States Army Air Forces officers arrived in England.

Firmly wedded to the doctrine of daylight precision bombing, they believed they could help turn the tide of the war in Europe.  In the months that followed, they formed the Eighth Air Force – an organisation that grew at such an astonishing rate it needed seventy hastily built airfields in the eastern counties of England.

The Army Flying Museum is hosting many lectures and events this year including a talk in April from Lady Carnarvon who will pay tribute to the aircraft and airmen who came to rest around Highclere Castle during the Second World War.

On Monday 27th March Mike, the author of ‘Glider Pilots at Arnhem‘, Mike Peters will present stories of the USAF Eighth Air Force and its bombardment groups – each equipped with scores of heavily armed, four-engine bombers. 

Its Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and Consolidated B-24 Liberators punched through enemy defences to bomb targets vital to the war effort.  The planes were crewed by thousands of young American airmen, many of whom were volunteers.

A total of 47,000 casualties were suffered from the group.  On D-Day alone, over 2,300 sorties were flown by Eighth Air Force heavy bombers.

Mighty Eighth Air Force
PHOTO: Mike Peters

Mike’s lecture at the Army Flying Museum tells the story of just one ‘Bomb Group’ – the 381st – which crossed the Atlantic in May 1943.  It arrived at RAF Ridgewell on the Essex-Suffolk border, with its airmen quickly finding themselves thrown into a hazardous air battle in the skies over Europe.

Mike’s talk will follow the 381st’s path from its formation in the Texan desert, to its 297th and final bombing mission deep into the heart of Hitler’s Third Reich.  

It is the remarkable story of one group and the part it played in the strategic bombing campaign of “The Mighty Eighth.”

A Q&A session will take place following the talk with both live and online audience members able to participate.

Tickets to attend the event in the Museum on 27th March at 7pm are just £12.  There is an option to view the talk and participate in the Q&A online from £8. 

For further information and to book tickets, visit