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The history of the American Library

Members of the Second Air Division of the Eighth United States Army Air Force were based in the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk during the Second World War.

Nearly 7,000 young Americans who served with the division lost their lives during the conflict.

The division’s senior officers agreed at the end of the war to honour the fallen with a memorial in Norfolk.

All personnel supported their appeal for funds in 1945 and this money was placed under the care of the Memorial Trust of the Second Air Division USAAF.

The Second Air Division Memorial Room was opened to the public in 1963 in the new Norwich Central Library.

The Memorial Room, which was dedicated on June 13, 1963, contained a Roll of Honor as well as a collection of books on various aspects of American life.

A memorial fountain, complete with stones from all 50 states in the United States, was built outside the Memorial Room.

On August 1 1994, a devastating fire broke out in the Norwich Central Library. All of the books and display items in the Memorial Room, including uniforms and photographs, were lost.

Apart from a few exceptions, the only records to escape the fire were those deposited with the Norfolk Record Office, which were housed in the basement of the building.

The Memorial Library was moved to temporary quarters until its new home, in the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, opened on November 1 2001.

Many veterans of the Second Air Division came to Norwich, which was selected as the venue for their annual convention that year, to mark the occasion.  

The Second Air Division Memorial Library is not only a tribute to those Americans who gave their lives in conflict, but an educational and friendship bridge between two nations.

The library, through the Memorial Trust of the Second Air Division USAAF, has been funded largely by members of the Second Air Division Association (now dissolved) and veterans who served with the Second Air Division.

The Heritage League of the Second Air Division now supports the work of the library.

For more about the work and history of the Second Air Division Memorial Library, you can download a copy of our brochure.

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