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Airfields of the 8th & 9th Air Force, Years After The Battle


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North Pickenham

 

492nd Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-24 Liberator.

 

491st Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-24 Liberator.

 

In the first picture, in line with the wing tip is the bomb dump. To the left of the bomb dump can be seen the outline of a roundabout and roads in the crops, where the original wartime concrete track has been removed. Turkey houses now line the runways.

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Old Buckenham

 

453rd Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-24 Liberator.

 

Hollywood movie star, James Stewart, was the Group Operations Officer at Old Buckenham during the spring of 1944.The photo shows the view down one of the surviving perimeter tracks.

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Podington

 

301st Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-17 Fortress.

 

100th Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-17 Fortress.

 

92nd Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-17 Fortress.

 

Post war, the runway because used for drag racing, and Podington is now known as Santa Pod.

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Polebrook

 

97th Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-17 Fortress.

 

351st Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-17 Fortress.

 

Post war, the site was used for the Thor ballistic missile, and three launch pads and associated buildings dominated the centre of the airfield. These can still be seen. The old J-Type hangar still stands, and the last picture shows a view looking up at the hangar during a low fly past.

 

A tree lined carpark and memorial stands on the end of the old main runway.

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Rattlesden

 

322nd Bomb Group ( Medium ), flying the B-26 Marauder.

 

447th Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-17 Fortress.

 

There is still a gliding club as Rattlesden, and the old control tower is the club house. A memorial plaque is set into the side of the tower. One T2 hangar remains, but is unused and has 'Dangerous Building' signs along its length. The 240 x 120ft black building is quite eerie. Several technical site buildings also survive behind the hangar.

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Ridgewell

 

381st Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-17 Fortress.

 

Little is left at Ridgewell to show it was a heavy bomber base. The hangar base, to odd strip of runway or perimeter track. A grassed area to the side of one of the runways still allows flying from Ridgewell. We landed there during our 6 hour flight when my pilot needed to.....go!

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Seething

 

448th Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-17 Fortress.

 

The control tower at Seething has been restored to form a museum to the Group. There is a flying club at Seething, and they use the surviving stretch of main runway to operate from.

 

I've flown my B-17 from there back in 2004, landing on the 1000ft of remaining cross runway. It was flat calm and it took the full 1000 ft to stop. The attached picture show my B-17 on finals for Seething.

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Watton

 

3rd Strategic Air Depot was based at Watton, for the major repair of B-24 Liberators.

 

25th Bomb Group ( Reconnaissance ), flying the B-17 Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-26 Marauder and Mosquito.

 

Several hangars still stand on the airfield.

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Wendling

 

392nd Bomb Group ( Heavy ), flying the B-24 Liberator.

 

Wendling is now another poultry farm, probably belonging to the Bernard Matthews chain. The second photo shows the bomb dump which still has the earth blast mounds between the twin concrete roads.

 

There is a memorial on the edge of the base.

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Hi Steve,

Firstly I'm very impressed with all the work you've put into this thread its very commendable and interesting.

Secondly you may be able to help me find a Legend (Local Legend) I've been searching for a number of years for the history of a B17 that crashed in Lapworth,Warwickshire on 15th October 1943 according to the ARP report,but as of yet had no luck tracing this aircraft.

Would you happen to have a book called "LOSSES OF THE US 8th & 9th AIR FORCES Volume 1: European Theater from June 1942 to December 1943 by Stan D Bishop and John A Hey MBE" It may be able to help with tracking down the identity to the Lapworth Legend.

 

Any help would be appriciated

 

 

Regards

 

Steve (Great Name):-D:-D

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Thanks Steve,It's getting hard to find details ,I've been in touch with the RAF museum as It was reported by the ARP and I was told that a local RAF personal helped in the recovery,but no information was available from the Museum.

 

I have visited the site where the B17 came to rest and was told by 2 eyewitnes's that it was virtually intact apart from wing damage caused by it hitting a tree and that there was lots of perspex lying around as well as loads of ammunition.

I plan to do a metal detector search of the area this year providing I can get the land owners permission.

 

Anyhelp would be very much welcome

 

Thanks

 

Steve

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Searching the War Diary, there were no 8th Air Force missions on 15th October 1943. The day before, the 8th lost 60 bombers at Schweinfurt, with a further 138 damaged and 7 Catagory 'E' write offs. The 305th and 306th BG's were the worst hit loosing 13 and 10 bombers respectively. 594 men were MIA.

 

The only action on the 15th was a fighter sweep by P-38's and P-47's of the 55th and 356th Fighter Groups. The 8th simply wasn't in a position to launch a raid that day.

 

More likely it was an air test following repaired damage as a result of the raid, and something went wrong on the air test. I've checked a few days either side of the 15th, and again there is nothing mentioned that fits.

 

Steve

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Thanks Steve,The B17 I believe came down in the night so could have been returning from the raid on the14th It was reported on the 15th??The Story goes that the crew bailed out over Norfolk and the plane flew on for over a hundred miles before crashing into a field.There were no crew onboard the crashed aircraft??.The 2 old guys who visited the site with me last month now well into early 80's remember it very well , they took school dinners to the home guard who were guarding it and the school took all the children to see it.

 

Here's a copy of an email I recieved from a guy who was also looking for the B17.

 

The Lapworth site is almost certainly a B-17, because the Air Raid Precaution Records for 15/10/43 say "Flying Fortress reported crashed near Lapworth or Rowington in field between Tapster Lane and Lowsonford... police state map reference 618912". This is on the wartime Cassini grid, but the map reference ties up with our idea of where it crashed - close enough the know the site was a B-17 anyway. However, we have never managed to find any parts of the aircraft. At one point I looked at the B-17s participating in the Second Schweinfurt raid (14/10/43). There were lots missing in action

- presumably over enemy territory. 92, 303, 385 and 388 Bomb Groups lost one B-17 each (destroyed in UK) and 384 Bomb Group lost 3. We know the following about these losses:-

92 BG - ?

303 BG - crashed Risley

384 BG - all abandoned over England on return, crashing at Wakerley Woods (Corby), Blaydon and Chetwode

385 BG - crashed Bovingdon

388 BG - crashed on take off

 

The historian for 92 BG wrote to me (can't lay my hands on the letter at the moment), to say that the Lapworth B-17 was not from 92 BG. Griff was told that the aircraft was from Molesworth, which would make it 303 BG. All in all, pretty confusing. I suppose there is a chance that the aircraft was initially listed as missing in action, as it wasn't found until late in the day - the ARP report is from the following day. There were numerous aircraft missing from other Bomb Groups on that day.

 

Steve If you can help in anyway or put me in the right direction of whom to contact with my search for the B17 I'd be very greatfull.I've been searching on and off for this aircraft for the last couple of years but yet to no avail

 

Thanks for your time

 

Kind regards

 

Steve

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The War Diary gives specific losses for the 14th as follows:-

 

1 94BG B-17 MIA manned by 96BG Crew. 1 388BG B-17 crashed on Take Off, crew safe. 1 305BG B-17 Interned in Switzerland. On return 3 badly damaged 384BG B-17's abandoned over England - one crashed Wakerley, one crashed Blaydon, the third at Chetwode. 1 303BG B-17 crashed near Roseley after crew baled out. 1 92BG B-17 crash landed at Aldermaston. 1 385BG B-17 flown by 96 BG crew crash landed near Bovingdon out of fuel.

 

 

Are any of these locations ( Wakerley, Blaydon, Chetwode ) near your crash site?

 

Steve

Edited by Jessie The Jeep
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Hi Steve Thanks for your help,None of the locations are near Lapworth,Warwickshire unfortunateley.The search for the B17 continues,maybe I'll stumble across it in some obscure book somewhere from the RAF archives!!

 

regards

 

Steve

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  • 4 months later...

Guys,forgive me if I'm asking the obvious,but have you checked the USAAF loss lists at accidentreports.com? or of you have location and date Craig Fuller at AAIR might be able to help locate the accident report(he's just moved so there maybe a delay in replying to emails).

 

Matt.

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  • 1 year later...

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