At The Swan

The ‘Friendly Invasion’

What is the ‘Friendly Invasion’ we hear you ask?


The ‘Friendly Invasion’ was the phrase used during WW2, to describe the arrival in the East of England, of a large number of American service personnel, whose mission was to support the allies.

Image courtesy of Bryan Panton. Bryan is a member of the ‘Friends of Lavenham Airfield’ committee, licensed drone pilot and local photographer. This drone image is from the 2017 Vintage 1940s Commemorative Weekend, which took place at Lavenham Airfield. As you’ll see, the Control Tower still exists at Lavenham Airfield.

20th February 2017 marked the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the first American officers, led by General Ira Eaker, arriving to set up the 8th United States Army Air Force in the UK.  This is explained in more detail on our website here.

Lavenham in Suffolk was a sleepy backwater when in 1943 Laing began construction of RAF Lavenham, which was to become the home of the 487th Bombardment Group, 8th United States Army Air Force (USAAF).  It must have been a huge culture shock for the American forces, arriving in such a quaint, medieval, timber framed village, surrounded by farmers’ fields.  During their ‘down time,’ the service personnel ventured into nearby Lavenham, meeting the locals and sampling the local beer.  The 487th Bombardment Group, 8th USAAF and many other UK army regiments, RAF and other 8th USAAF units frequented the Old Bar at The Swan at Lavenham.  We know this because they signed their names on the walls of the bar and we are proud custodians of this important historical record.  And in memory of the 487th Bombardment Group, we are delighted to have recently been able to introduce a 487th Commemorative Beer.

To mark the key anniversaries of the Second World War, The Swan at Lavenham Hotel & Spa are partnering with ‘Friends of Lavenham Airfield’, to organise annual Vintage 1940s Commemorative Weekends, together with a number of other regular events.  In addition to these events, Lavenham Tourist Information organise regular Lavenham Airfield tours.

With many former WW2 airfields and museums located nearby or within an hour’s drive of The Swan at Lavenham, we can most certainly assist you, as a base for your military history tour.  For further information about creating a group or individual tour to Lavenham, including a stay at The Swan, then please contact our Reservations Department on 01787 247477 or e:

For assistance with creating an East of England tour, our friends at Visit East Anglia will be delighted to advise you

We look forward to commemorating the ‘Friendly Invasion’ with you