306th Museum ~~ Thurleigh, England (UK)
NOTICE: the Museum's website is NOT likely to be updated for any unexpected closures such as occurred in June 2017. During this 2017 season, the Museum has not been open on at least two scheduled Sundays. On those occasions, the Curator did not arrange for any notice of that on the Museum website. The Curator is now in his mid-80s. He schedules no "back-up" person to open the Museum if he personally is unavailable.
Cautions for anyone wanting to visit the Museum:
(1) Please realize the Museum may not be open when scheduled.
(2) It can help to begin trying to reach the elderly Curator as soon as you begin planning your visit-date. His home telephone is below.
(3) Try to confirm, beginning at least one week in advance of your visit, if he anticipates having the Museum open on your visit-date.
(4) Reach him again to re-confirm that he still anticipates having it open, the day before your visit.
(5) Please realize that if the Curator cannot be reached, it is unlikely the Museum will be open.
Click for Museum website
(NOTE: as of 6.16.17 this site is again operational; it was down for several months earlier in 2017)
Founder and Curator: Ralph Franklin, who was a "lad in knee pants" during WWII. He often visited with the 306th GI's on the airbase in the evenings.
Curator's telephone if dialed from within England: 01234 708715 [To dial from a US telephone, first dial our international access code "011" followed by the country code for England "44" Then dial the Curator's telephone without its initial "0"]
Opening Times: Seasonally from the first weekend in March through the last weekend of October, the Museum is open ONLY on Sunday, 10:30am to 4:00pm.
Admission: Adults £3; Under 16's free.
To find the Museum: If driving, from the A6 between Bedford and Rushden at the Sharnbrook roundabout, follow the signs for Bedford Technology Park and Bedford Autodrome. Be aware, the "PalmerSport at Bedford Autodrome" is not within the Thurleigh Airfield Business Park (a commercial location for dozens of businesses) where on 2.13.17 an article in bedfordshire-news.co.uk "OnSunday" was headlined that work had begun on a £10 million project.
Museum description: The Museum is a great "little treasure" in one of the original one-story, flat-roofed WWII buildings of the former Thurleigh US Army Air Corps Base property. After WWII, it was a Secret RAF Air Base, until it was closed in the 1980s.
The property on which the Museum sits is now a closed-facility owned by Jonathan Palmer for his "PalmerSport at Bedford Autodrome" car racing facility. It has a guarded entrance, with strictly NO admittance to the grounds unless (a) the Museum is open, or (b) the guard knows that Ralph Franklin, by appointment, is to meet you at the guarded entrance at any other time.
Jonathan Palmer has allowed and encouraged Ralph Franklin, who lives nearby in Keysoe, to operate the 306th Museum at Thurleigh since about 2002. Hopefully whenever Ralph ceases to be able to operate the Museum, Palmer will arrange for it to continue.
Because of the expanse of the grounds, visitors to the Museum can still get a great visual impression of the former Base.
The Museum's several rooms have many, many displayed items donated by 306th veterans and their widows. Some of the displays make use of full-sized manikins garbed in authentic WWII uniforms and bridal attire.
Just out in the front yard area of the Museum is the 306th Memorial that US WWII veterans and their families paid to erect in 1982, then on a different spot just behind & outside the then Secret RAF Thurleigh Base (earlier the US Army Air Corps Thurleigh Air Base in WWII). In 2012, our 306th Bomb Group Historical Association again paid to have that Memorial professionally moved to be outside the Museum. (In the village of Thurleigh, adjacent to the Village Green, there is another 306th Memorial erected by the good local people.)