Category Archives: Online Resources

Posts drawing attention to other web arrondissements

New Resource: American National Biography Online

by Don Allen

Being a part of the Norfolk Libraries network definitely has its advantages, and I wanted to take a quick second or three to highlight one of our newest: access to the American National Biography Online.

American National Biography Online

ANB has over “19,000 biographies of significant, influential or notorious figures from American history written by prominent scholars”. This number includes over 1600 biographies of people who were armed forces and intelligence personnel, from Henry Larcom Abbot (1831-1927) , a union soldier and engineer, to Elmo Russell Zumwalt Jr. (1920-2000), an admiral in the US Navy. (See what I did there? A-Z. Ha. I slay me.) Other categories include politics, law and crime, and sports.

It is available to anyone with a Norfolk Library card, either in the library or from a home computer or mobile device. I’ve had a browse through some of the biographies, and they are quite good. While most are relatively short, they are packed with information. Some, like the article on Abraham Lincoln, are longer, but still, when compared to a full book, get to the highlights pretty quickly. Any fan of American history will surely love this site, and I highly recommend it.

Access American National Biography Online from home using your Norfolk library card.  Enter NOR before the number when prompted (with no spaces).

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Filed under American Culture, American History, Online Resources

Uncle Sam’s Roots in Eastern England

By Danielle Prostrollo


East Anglia’s Norfolk connections to America are well documented, and the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library maintains a blog devoted to exactly that. Some of the most famous are facts such as, Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, Heacham’s John Rolfe married Native American Pocahontas, and Abraham Lincoln’s ancestral home is in Hingham. But these are only the start of Colonial America’s reliance on the area for its good… and bad!

In the book Uncle Sam’s Roots in Eastern England: From Colonial Times Onwards by Roger Pugh, many of the lesser-known connections are discussed including the following:

Ancestral home of President Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge’s ancestors John and Mary were from Cottonham, Cambridgeshire. John Coolidge employed an economy of words similar to that which his famous descendant, Calvin, is known for. In the book, Pugh says that John once replied to an invitation: “Dear Gentlemen.  Can’t come. Thank you.” The Coolidges travelled to Massachusetts in 1630.

Harley-Davidson Motorbikes
William S. Harley, one half of the famous motorcycle brand, was born to parents William and Mary of Littleport, Cambridgeshire. So while Milwaukee, Wisconsin lays claim to being the home of Harley-Davidson, it is from Littleport that the Harley family came!

The Girls from Great Yarmouth and the Witches of Salem
Mary and Rebecca Towne, born in Great Yarmouth to William and Joanna Towne, are two of the many women who were tried for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. Their sister Sarah, also born to William and Joanna, was born in Salem and eventually tried for witchcraft. Mary and Rebecca would be found guilty and eventually executed while Sarah eventually gained her freedom after the guilty verdict.



To find out more about the East Anglia connection to America, check out Roger Pugh’s book at the Memorial Library or visit our (other) blog!

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Filed under American Culture, American History, Books, Memorial Library, Online Resources

New eMagazines available!

By Danielle Prostrollo

In addition to the collection of physical periodicals in our collection, Norfolk Library and Information Service subscribe to some digital editions of American magazines. Recently, they have added Newsweek and National Geographic subscriptions to the list.

To view both the most recent issue and back issues, you can visit the links below:


National Geographic

While everyone has become more comfortable with the idea of the eBook, the digital edition of print magazines remains less common, but digital editions are a great way to stay up to date on your favorite publications while on the go! You can access these on your PC or Mac, tablet, or smart phone. You can browse the whole collection here

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Filed under Memorial Library, Online Resources, Uncategorized

Airfield in Focus: Rackheath (467th Bomb Group)

In this series of posts, we will be featuring a different 2nd Air Division airfield and bomb group from World War II. In this post, the airfield in focus is Rackheath, home of the 467th Bomb Group.

Rackheath Airfield is situated 5 miles NE of Norwich. It was the most easterly and therefore the nearest to Germany of all British wartime airfields

In February/March 1944, the 467th Bomb Group moved in with 58 B-24 Liberators. They were commanded by Colonel Albert J Shower, who was the only group commander to stay with the same group from beginning to the end of the war. He achieved the rank of Colonel at age thirty-one, one of the youngest Colonels in the Air Corps.

They flew their first mission against Bourges airfield in France, on April 10th 1944. They were a top-notch group, leading the 8th Air Force in bombing accuracy, and set a 2nd Air Division record by completing their first 100 missions in only 140 days. Witchcraft, a B-24 Liberator of the Group (and a model of which can be seen in the library entrance), held the record for the most combat missions for this type of bomber in the 8th Air Force (flying 130 missions).

Crew of a B-24 Liberator bomber

By the end of combat, the 467th Bomb Group had logged the following numbers:

  • Flown 212 missions
  • 5,105 aircraft attacked targets in Germany or German-held territory
  • Dropped 13,353 tons of bombs
  • Flown 35,537 hours of operational flying time.
  • Lost 49 aircraft, of which 29 were missing in action
  • Used 160 combat B-24 planes.

Rackheath Airfield & 467th Bomb Group Facts:

  • The aircraft stationed here were given the nickname ‘The Rackheath Aggies.’ It’s rumoured that the name came from local village resident Mrs Aggie Curtis, who had a reputation for being a lively resident. It is also rumored that the name came from a Texas football team.
  • By the end of the war over 5,000 men and women had been stationed at Rackheath.
  • Group commander Colonel Albert J Shower’s nickname was ‘Black Al’ and was described as a “strict disciplinarian” who believed in shiny shoes and strict dress code.
  • The famous Witchcraft was one of the last aircraft to leave Rackeath. She went on a tour of America to promote the sale of war bonds, but it is reported that (like the majority of wartime aircraft) she was scrapped and sold for next to nothing, the buyers making more money from the petrol they siphoned from her tanks than what they paid for the entire aircraft.

[Source: David H. Kibble-White’s readable and informative book The Rackheath Aggies]

Flag Ceremony Rackheath 12th April 1944. Source: The 467th Archive

After the War

After completing their final mission on April 25th 1945, the 467th BG returned to the USA in July 1945, and Rackheath returned to more peaceful uses with the help of the St Ives Sand & Gravel Company. The technical site was later adapted for light industry, which still flourishes as the Rackheath Industrial Estate, with many new buildings added in recent years. The control tower has been restored, and is used as office premises. There is a memorial plaque dedicated to the 467th Bomb Group near the village sign on Salhouse Road, next toto Holy Trinity Church.

All sites are now private property and permission must be obtained prior to visiting. Please contact Memorial Library staff.

A B-24 Liberator of the 467th Bomb Group flies over Berlin during a mission. Source: The American Air Museum

Further Information


Bodle, Peter. The 467th Bomb Group in Norfolk : a pictorial history of the USAAF’s 467th Bombardment Group at Rackheath, during WWII. Stoke Ferry : Liberator Publishing, 2010

Healy, Allen. The 467th Bombardment Group, September 1943 – June 1945. Healy, Allan 5th ed.. 467th Book Group, 2008

Kibble-White, David H. The Rackheath Aggies. Banham, Norwich, Norfolk: Erskine Press, 2001.

Watts, Perry. The famous B-24 “Witchcraft”: the enchanted Liberator : a unique U.S. bomber’s experience during WWII. Atglen : Schiffer Publishing, 2015


467th Bomb Group (Official Website)

Norfolk’s American Connections

The 467th Archive

American Air Museum in Britain

The Mighty Eighth American Air Force

East Anglia Film Archive

Be sure to also check out our post on Attlebridge Airfield (466th Bomb Group).

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Filed under Books, Local Interest, Online Resources, World War 2