The Second Air Division Memorial Library – a Norfolk Treasure


During the Second World War the United States Eighth Air Force despatched 3,000 bombers and fighters on a day’s operations involving more than 20,000 airmen, flying from airfields in East Anglia; the largest air strike force ever committed to battle. At full strength the Second Air Division, one of the Eighth’s three divisions, controlled fourteen heavy bomber airfields in Norfolk and northeast Suffolk, and five fighter airfields. Ketteringham Hall served as the Division’s headquarters. Nearly 7,000 young Americans, in the Second Air Division lost their lives in the line of duty.

With the end of the war and the coming of peace, the Second Air Division honours its casualties through this unique library in Norwich, a ‘living memorial’, not only a tribute to those Americans ‘who flying from bases in these parts gave their lives defending freedom’, but also an educational and friendship bridge between two nations

 Located in the landmark Forum building in the centre of Norwich, we have a lending collection of over 4,000 books covering all aspects of American life and culture, and a specialist collection devoted to the history of the 2nd Air Division.

The Memorial Library remains an enduring and developing connection to the United States with a lending collection of over 4,000 books covering all aspects of American life and culture, and a specialist collection devoted to the history of the 2nd Air Division. 

In our Books and reading section we highlight some of the books we have in our collection, with suggestions and recommendations for reading from our UEA American Scholars. You can also find out about our “Reading Across the Pond” book group, and check out some of the titles they’ve been reading.

Anyone who has a Norfolk Library and Information Service membership card may borrow Memorial Library books. These can be requested and sent to any library in Norfolk. Search for Memorial Library books by accessing  our website

In addition to the book stock we have collections of material in other formats, including periodicals and newsletters, films, audio recordings, photographs, microforms, airfield maps, and a memorabilia collection.

We also hold the 2nd Air Division’s Roll of Honor, and a copy of this is available to browse online. 

The Memorial Library’s film collection is almost entirely about the 2nd Air Division or the Second World War. Our film catalogue lists the videos and DVDs held in the collection.

The films are not available for loan.

Patrons may watch films from the collection in Memorial Library Meeting Room during library opening hours (9am – 5pm, Mon- Sat). Because this room can be booked for meetings, school visits, and for the use of the flight simulator, it is recommended that patrons wishing to view films reserve the room in advance.



The Tortilla Curtain by T C Boyle – reviewed by 2nd Air Division Memorial Library

The Library blog is maintained by scholars at the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library and each month their book group reviews one book within it. This month our book group, Reading Across the Pond, read T.C. Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain, a novel that tackles middle-class values, illegal immigration, xenophobia, poverty, the American Dream and entitlement.

 What is the Tortilla Curtain? The Tortilla Curtain references both the physical wall, or border, between Mexico and the United States and the cultural wall or division between the people of these two nations. The novel follows two couples: Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher, a white upper-middle class liberal couple who live in a gated community on the outskirts of Los Angeles; and Cándido and America Rincón, two Mexican illegal immigrants in desperate search of work, food and shelter. A car accident brings Cándido and Delaney into intimate contact and their opposing worlds gradually intersect in what becomes a tragicomedy of error and misunderstanding.

With the narrative voice switching with each chapter, the novel forces its readers to engage with a variety—and sometimes conflicting—perspectives. This adds to the complexity of the book and the complexity of the issues within the book. As one member said, ‘the book forces you to see yourself from very different perspectives—sometimes painfully so.’

usa_mexico_border_03Published in 1994 at the height of the U.S.’s militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, Boyle’s book poignantly demonstrates the sometimes inconsistent demands for citizenship rights and human rights and the often emotional reactions towards immigration and immigrant communities. For many of our book group readers, Boyle’s novel unveils the ‘hypocrisy of the American Dream’, ‘the impossible immigrant experience’ and the criminalization of desperation: ‘Mexicans don’t get the chance to experience the American Dream.’

Though written in an American context, many of our  readers felt there were ‘many parallels with contemporary thinking in Britain’ vis-á-vis immigration. Truth be told the book–despite being twenty years old—continues to hold contemporary resonance within the United States as well.

For these reasons and many more, T.C. Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain sparked a very thoughtful and emotive discussion for our book group readers and as a result the book comes highly recommended; it has been one of the group’s favorite books this year and many have been encouraged to read more of Boyle’s work.

‘Tremendously written’

‘Absolutely brilliant book’

‘ Riveting’

‘Evidence of a great writer, strong character development and very tense’

You can borrow a copy of T.C. Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain from your local Norfolk Library. Check the catalog and put in your requests here.

T.C. Boyle is an American novelist and short story writerOther books by this author include: