The Library Restored: The 2001 Re-dedication and Today

By Don Allen

After the terrible fire of 1994 that devastated the Library’s holdings and led to a six year “temporary” relocation to Ber Street in Norwich, the Memorial Library was re-opened in the newly built Forum building on the 7th of November, 2001.

dedication ceremony

The Right Rev. Graham Jones, Bishop of Norwich, dedicating the new Memorial Library.

608 2nd Air Division veterans and their families were also in attendance, holding their convention that year in Norwich.

Entering the forum

The new Roll of Honor being transported to the Library through the Forum.

Guard of honor

The Guard of Honor at the re-dedication

 

Outside the Memorial Library is a garden containing a number of American birch trees that were presented by the Friends of the 2nd Air Division.

 

trees

The American birch trees from the outside looking in to the Memorial Library as they stand today.

 

 

A prominent feature of the old Memorial, the Fountain and Mosaic, could not be re-erected on the Forum grounds. However, the Mosaic, which contains a mineral stone from every state in the United States, was rebuilt on the grounds of the Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum at Flixton.

 

2ndAD

The Fountain and Mosaic as seen outside the original Memorial.

MemorialUSAAF01

The rebuilt Mosaic at Flixton. Both photos courtesy of Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum at Flixton. (http://www.aviationmuseum.net/Memorials.html)

 

Inside the Library is a wall-length mural composed of images from the “Friendly Invasion”; Liberator models showing the Assembly Ships for the different bomb groups; and a large detailed model of “The Witchcraft”, with a 6-foot long wingspan, is hung prominently from the ceiling. For photos of these and more information see the “In The Library” posts on our blog site.

The new Library also contains over 7,000 books, computers for public use, and audio-visual equipment for viewing the Library’s film collection, which has DVD’s of past Conventions, documentaries on the individual bomb groups, and interviews with veterans, all available for viewing in the Library.

In the center of the Library is the Shrine Area. This area, designed to reflect the human cost of war, contains a map of the bomb groups as spread throughout Norfolk and banners representing each of the bomb groups, all surrounding the Roll of Honor. Each day a page of the Roll of Honor is turned, ensuring that every hero that provided the ultimate sacrifice is remembered.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shrine Area with the Roll of Honor situated in the back.

 

IMGP1076

United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom Matt Barzun (left) viewing the Roll of Honor, with Trust Librarian Libby Morgan and Second Air Division Memorial Trust Chairman Richard Middleton, in 2014.

 

 

For nearly 17 years the new Library has been continuing the mission the members of the 2nd Air Division began 73 years ago: to be a “living memorial” to their fallen comrades. Through annual events organized by the Library on topics ranging from WWII to current culture in America; by visiting schools to provide activities and learning opportunities for the  younger generation; through the American Scholars program where American students at UEA work at the Library, providing a real-live American presence throughout the year; to the physical Library itself, providing a place to come in and learn about nearly every American subject, the Library provides a place for the special relationship between the US and the UK to continue to grow.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “The Library Restored: The 2001 Re-dedication and Today

  1. John Page

    I can relate to the Fire of August 1st 1994 . Travelling on to the Southen Bypass to work at Bowthorpe could see Smoke and flame rising over the City as I drove round . On reaching work switched on the Radio to get any news of the Devastating Fire of the Library . Being involved with the Friends of the Second Air Division USAAF it was total shock .

  2. Second Air Division Memorial Library

    I too remember August 1st 1994. I was about to leave for work, heard the news and never made it to work that day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.