The Germans did not come the Americans did…
In November 1943 three squadrons of Republic P47D Thunderbolts, part of 362 Fighter Group of the 9th United States Army Air Force, arrived at Wormingford. They were in action as bomber escorts, including attacks against Doodlebug launching sites in France. In April 1944, three Squadrons, numbers 377, 378 and 379, moved to Headcom in Kent to be succeeded by three squadrons of Lockheed P38J Lightnings from the 55th Fighter Group of the 8th USAAF. These squadron numbers were 38, 338 and 343. They were used as long-range fighter bombers for patrolling shipping in the English Channel.
During June 1944, the Lightning’s made way for North American P51D Mustangs. The Mustangs of the 55th, stationed at Wormingford, received two Distinguished Unit Citations and were involved in many operations amongst which, specifically, was fighter support for the St. Lo breakthrough, the airborne landing in Arnhem, the Ardennes offensive and the crossing of the Rhine near Wesel. Their final operative flight was 21st April 1945. The information on Wormingford Airfield history is partly from Michael Bowyer’s ‘Action Stations’.
During this time ‘The Thatchers’ was popular with American airmen. A memorial to those who did not come back is at Jenkins Farm in Wormingford. After the war, Cyril Cook continued until his daughter, Corrie Locke, took over with husband, Gerald. During the 1970’s they purchased ‘The Thatchers’ from Greene King Brewery, although the beer continued to be IPA and Abbot. At this time ‘The Thatchers’ became the headquarters of the Mount Bures Morris Men, with the level crossing gates as their logo.
Everyone in the area knew ‘The Thatchers’
Everyone in the area knew ‘The Thatchers’ and it was a sad day when Corrie decided to retire. At one of her leaving parties, 18 draymen from Greene King hired a minibus from Bury St Edmunds to come and say ’goodbye’.
After a short close-down period, Terry and Frances Martin of ‘The Swan’ at Chappel, re-opened ‘The Thatchers’ in time for the 1992 General Election. A series of managers followed, while Terry enlarged the premises to include dining-out and function areas. In November 2006, Terry leased ‘The Thatchers’ to Mitch Adams, ably supported by parents, Janet and Tony. Mitch is only the tenth full licensee since 1869, and regularly features at Real Ale Festivals.
Ian Stratford, April 1992 updated May 2010.