Work on a project

Sharing Suffolk Stories: US Black Aviation Engineers in Suffolk during WW2 Researcher

 US Black Aviation Engineers stationed Suffolk in WW2 

Using the newly accessioned USAF 490th Bomber Group archives, the project aims to discover the experiences of black servicemen from the US 923rd Engineer Aviation Regiment, stationed in Suffolk during WW2.

Many black US servicemen serving in Suffolk constructed the US Airfields and particularly the Engineer Aviation Battalions who built Eye, Debach and Raydon airfields.


The project aims to discover how their arrival impacted the local communities and how their experiences differed to their lives at home. Did the USAF Authorities implement a policy of segregation in Suffolk, when the white aircrews arrived in 1944?

The 847th Battalion had a reputation as a very musical unit, producing male-voice choirs and jazz bands. The famous newspaper cartoonist Giles often jammed with men from the Debach-based unit in local pubs


We have already recruited a number of volunteers who are keen to get started, if you are interested in getting involved with the research or sharing these stories with the community, please email :                 



What's involved?

Reporting to the Community & Learning Officer (East):

  • Conduct initial contextual and archival research to discover the stories of these Black engineers’ experiences whilst stationed at Haughley, Eye, Debach and Raydon Airfields in WW2 at Ipswich Record Office or remotely.
  • Using Suffolk Archives and other relevant secondary sources research themes and topics as agreed with the Volunteer Project Coordinator.
  • Consider conducting oral history interviews (training can be provided)
  • With Volunteer Project Coordinator and in liaison with the Community and Learning Officer, create an effective system to log research carried out by volunteers and participants.
  • Support the Volunteer Project Coordinator to coordinate opportunities to share and engage new audiences with research findings.
  • With the Volunteer Project Coordinator, consider opportunities to write blog pages and content for Suffolk Archives' Social Media policy.
  • Support requests for information requested for the Suffok Archives’ website or media opportunities about the project.
  • Support evaluation of the project with requested project information and feedback.
  • Support the Exhibition & Interpretation Officer in curating exhibitions and events at The Hold.

Why get involved?

Benefits to the Volunteer:

  • Opportunity to develop research and project management skills, whilst enabling people to discover their own local history.
  • Opportunity to discover the hidden black history of Suffolk and engage with a provocative history which has not been told before.
  • Chance to meet volunteers and the general public
  • Enjoyment and fulfillment
  • Travel expenses are refunded

How to get involved?

  1. Sign into your account or sign up to Volunteer Makers.
  2. Accept the challenge.
  3. Await a response from Suffolk Archives with more information.


Ideal Skills

  • Event Stewarding
  • I'm based near Ipswich

Ideal Interests

  • Creative and Arts
  • Events and Programming
  • Learning and Education
  • Marketing and communications
  • Visitor Service/ Front of House
  • I'm based near Ipswich

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