World War Two American bomber pilot returns to Lavenham hotel where he left his mark

American bomber pilot Bernard Nolan, aged 90, who was stationed near Lavenham during World War Two is returning to The Swan Hotel where his signature appears on the wall in the Airmen's Bar from 1944.
American bomber pilot Bernard Nolan, aged 90, who was stationed near Lavenham during World War Two is returning to The Swan Hotel where his signature appears on the wall in the Airmen's Bar from 1944.
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Nearly 70 years ago, American bomber pilot Bernard Nolan and his comrades signed their names on the wall of The Swan in Lavenham.

Today the 90-year-old World War Two veteran, of Virginia, returned to the hotel to enjoy lunch with his family and sign his name again in the Airmen’s Bar.

Mr Nolan, who has written two books about his war-time experiences, first came back to the village in 1988 and is always ‘stunned’ as to how little it has seemed to change.

He was based at Lavenham Airfield from April to October 1944 as a first lieutenant with the 837th Squadron of the 487th Bomb Group USAAF.

Mr Nolan, who flew the B24 and B17, remembers how he trudged across fields and left his muddy boots by the roadside before heading into The Swan.

On life at that time, he said: “It was a little bit monastic. There was little to do really when we weren’t flying. Bury St Edmunds was one of our favourite spots.”

Mr Nolan, whose second book is The Deadly Skies, later worked as a program manager for NASA.