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ACU Home > Major Events > News > 2003 News Archive > Vernon Williams oral history project
A B-17 crew poses in Alexandria, La., before departing for combat in Europe in April 1944.

ACU professor announces beginning of new oral history project, sends out call for B-17 air crews in WWII England

For immediate release
Jan. 28, 2003

Dr. Vernon Williams, professor of history at Abilene Christian University, has announced plans for a new oral history project to begin this month focusing on B-17 crews flying from bases in England during World War II.

Williams said he hopes to hear from anyone who served with a B-17 bomb group in England during the war.

"This will be an important study because we know little about the life they lived in these small English farming communities or the relationships that developed between the British farm families and their new American neighbors," Williams said.

Williams plans to spend the next several years interviewing these men and examining the World War II experiences of the air crews, their British hosts and the sense of community that held them together from 1942 to 1945.

During World War II, the United States established air bases in East Anglia in England's agricultural region. Throughout the area, small communities made way for the construction of the bases.

"Farm land turned into concrete, Nissan huts and the implements of war as American bomber and fighter groups prepared for operations against Nazi-held targets deep inside Europe," Williams said. "The sudden appearance of the Eighth Air Force in rural England, the rapid growth of the number of bases over a short time frame, and the daily struggle for life and death over the skies of Europe made for a unique sense of community in these British villages and towns."

For his project, Williams asks that anyone who served in a B-17 bomb group in England during World War II - including air crewmen, ground personnel and medical staff - contact him.

"This will be a monumental project but one that must be done now," Williams said. "We are losing over a thousand World War II veterans per day now, and there is a sense of urgency about this work to save the history of these men and women of World War II."

Veterans interested in participating in this project should call Williams at 915-674-2150, email him at vwilliams@acu.edu or mail details of their service to Dr. Vernon L. Williams, ACU Box 28130, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX, 79699.

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If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Wendy Kilmer, university news coordinator.

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Last Update: December 17, 2007
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