New St Peter’s beer marks 75 years since Suffolk’s ‘friendly invasion’ by US airmen


A brewery has been commissioned to create a special commemorative beer to celebrate Suffolk’s ‘friendly invasion’ by US airmen during the Second World War.


The 487th Commemorative Beer was commissioned by The Swan at Lavenham and will be served at the hotel’s Airmen’s Bar. It commemorates the 487th BG, 8th USAAF which was stationed at RAF Lavenham and is made by St Peter’s Brewery based at St Peter South Elmham, near Bungay.

During the Second World War, East Anglia became home to thousands of US airmen. The United States 8th Army Air Force (USAAF) arrived in 1942, and between 1942 and 1945 there were around 50,000 USAAF personnel stationed across East Anglia.

The impact of the ‘friendly invasion’ on local communities was considerable, particularly in villages where American servicemen and women vastly outnumbered the local population. It was a time of jitterbugging dances and big band sounds, and the first taste of peanut butter, chewing gum and coke for many people in East Anglia.

For the Swan at Lavenham, whose Airmen’s Bar was frequented by the US airmen during the war, this part of history is firmly etched into the 15th century oak-beamed hotel. The bar itself still bears the history of its drinkers with an inspiring collection of signatures and mementos adorning the walls.

Jane Larcombe, business development manager for the TA Hotel Collection, which runs the Swan, said: “It is 75 years since American airmen arrived in East Anglia. They played a huge part in the history of The Swan and we felt it was important to commemorate it.”

The 487th Commemorative Beer is a 4.7pc golden ale, and is also available to buy from St Peter’s shop.

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Steve Magnall, CEO at St Peter’s Brewery, said: “When we were approached by The Swan to develop a beer, we were only too pleased to help.

“The 487th Commemorative Beer is a light, golden ale, with caramel aromas, a pleasing toffee apple flavour and a late bitterness. We hope it pays tribute to the US airmen and reminds people of this interesting part of East Anglian history.”