A Blyth Valley golden misty morning, a sign of the cooler Autumn season. November is often a very pretty month so is a good time to visit this area. Come and sniff the Suffolk air, whether by the sea or in the countryside. Relax and recharge.

Joe Kennedy Junior's Last Mission

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Joe Kennedy Junior's Last Mission

Joe Kennedy Jnr's Last Mission by Mick Muttitt

At 1752 hours on 12th August 1944, a Consolidated PB4Y–1 Liberator (Bureau No. 32271. Coded T-11) of United States Navy Squadron VB-110 took off from Fersfield–Winfarthing airfield near Diss in Norfolk. It was on a top–secret (Project Anvil) mission. The crew consisted of only two men. Captain was Lieutenant J. P. Kennedy (Junior), USN, son of the former US ambassador to the United Kingdom, Joe Kennedy, and elder brother of the future US President JFK. Co-pilot was Lieutenant W. J. Willy, USN.

The aircraft had been stripped of all armament to save weight, but broom handles were put in the turrets to fool the enemy. Twelve tons of Torpex had been packed into the aircraft (actually 21,170 lbs of Torpex plus six demolition charges each containing 100 lbs of TNT). The Torpex was contained in 374 boxes. The target was the giant 150mm German ‘Super-Gun’ site at Mimoyecques near Calais. After setting a heading for this, the crew were to bale out and the pilotless aircraft would then be radio-controlled to its final destination.

Escorting aircraft were officially listed as two Lockheed PV–1 Venturas, one of which was the radio-control aircraft, one De–Havilland Mosquito photographic aircraft which was flown by Colonel Roosevelt, the son of the US President at that time, two Lockheed P–38 Lightnings and two Boeing B–17 Flying Fortresses. Sixteen North American P–51 Mustangs were also detailed as top cover for the North Sea crossing. The Liberator had been flown manually from take–off in a wide circuit of East Anglia. While over Blythburgh, just before heading out to sea, the radio-controller in the Ventura decided to feed a test alteration of course to the bomber to prove the system. As soon as this signal was executed, at exactly 1820 hours, the Liberator was torn apart by an enormous explosion. The tragedies that were to befall the unfortunate Kennedy household had begun.

My account of what I saw from the ground on that summer evening is given in History Note 11 (here). At the time I had no idea of the cause of the disaster or the number and identity of the crew members. It was sixteen years later that I read a Daily Mail article about the Kennedy family stating that Joe, the elder brother of President John F. Kennedy, had been killed during the war when his bomber had exploded in mid–air over Southern England while on a top–secret mission.

This was too much of a coincidence. As my parents now lived in the cottage over which the aircraft exploded I decided to locate as much of the wreckage remaining on site as possible. I found many large pieces, including a complete engine with constructor’s plate (which I removed and still have today), a main landing–gear actuating assembly unit (with easily readable transfers), plus many smaller fragments of tyres, formers and magnesium alloy. The latter ensured that Guy Fawkes’s bonfires on Blythburgh Fen were the brightest in the area for many years!

Subsequent research into the disaster has proved that the tragic event witnessed by my brother Peter and me was in fact the untimely death of Joe Kennedy and his co–pilot. Full details of the secret mission have at last been released.

Mick Muttitt, Blythburgh, April 1995
You can also read about the local WWII American Airmen and the Halesworth Airfield War Memorial.
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Some Favourite Websites For November 2019:

8 The Terrace, WalberswickFamily House in Walberswick for Seven, with WiFi. Own Parking

An Edwardian end of terrace self-catering family house sleeping seven, centrally situated in Walberswick, with own parking for two cars plus bicycle storage. Four bedrooms, original features, well-equipped. Just minutes from beach, shop, village green and handy for both village pubs. House available all year with short breaks available out of season.

The Southwold Railway TrustOpen days at the Southwold Railway Steamworks project

The Southwold Railway was a 3-foot gauge line running between Halesworth and Southwold, a distance of almost 9 miles. Opened in 1879 and closed in 1929, it is remembered for its tall-chimneyed steam engines. The Steamworks project aims to restore this line.

David Elliott Stained GlassUnique decorative stained glass, plus courses for all abilities held in a custom-equipped studio

David offers his wealth of experience to create unique stained glass commissions and items for your home. Stained glass courses offered, suitable for all abilities, from beginner to expert. Gift vouchers.

1 Little Dingle CottagesSelf-catering accommodation for up to twelve people

This country cottage stands between Dunwich Forest and Dingle Marshes. Apart from the adjacent cottage it is quite isolated, being a mile from Dunwich village. Surrounded by open countryside, marshes, reedbeds and forest. Several major nature reserves are close by, with wildlife and birds to be seen on or near the property. Walks from the cottage. Parking. Pets by arrangement.

Green Haven Holidays - Wheelwrights CottageSelf Catering accommodation for up to three people + two dogs, in Rumburgh near Halesworth

Just 500 metres to the dog-friendly CAMRA village pub! This beamed cottage has been beautifully modernised to provide one-bedroom accommodation with kingsize bed, plus additional single bed if required. WiFi. Front garden plus rear courtyard with outdoor furniture. Parking for two cars. Pets welcome at no extra charge. Short breaks available. Close to Halesworth and within 20 minutes drive to Southwold on the Suffolk Heritage Coast.