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USAAF Station 125
|Near Bungay, Suffolk in England|
Bungay Airfield - 6 October 1945
Shown within Suffolk
|Type||Royal Air Force station|
|Operator||United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
|Built by||Kirk & Kirk Ltd.|
|Battles/wars||European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
446th Bomb Group Liberators on their way to a target. Identifiable is Ford B-24H-1-FO Liberator Serial 42-7607.
|Elevation||38 metres (125 ft) AMSL|
The airfield is also known after the village of Flixton, near which it was built.
- 1 History
- 2 Current use
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Bungay airfield was originally planned as a satellite for nearby RAF Hardwick and was constructed by Kirk & Kirk Ltd., during 1942 with a main runway of 6,000 feet in length and two intersecting secondary runways, one of 4,220 feet and the other of 4,200 feet. In common with other airfields of the period, the technical, administrative and domestic buildings were dispersed to lessen the impact of any enemy air attack. The buildings were all of a temporary nature and the various sites were chiefly to the west of the airfield.
428th Bombardment Squadron
Bungay was still unfinished when the Twelfth Air Force 428th Bombardment Squadron, 310th Bombardment Group (Medium) at RAF Hardwick arrived with fourteen North American B-25 Mitchell medium bombers in October 1942. The squadron moved on to Médiouna Airfield, French Morocco on 18 November 1942. A 12th Air Force film clip indicates that the 310th Bombardment Group was the first 12th Air Force group to fly the northern transport route from the United States to Europe and initially arrived at Prestwick, Scotland in October 1942.
329th Bombardment Squadron
In December 1942, eight Consolidated B-24 Liberators of the 329th Bombardment Squadron, 93d Bombardment Group (Heavy) at RAF Hardwick were sent to Bungay to prepare for special intruder operations. These aircraft conducted raids in bad weather with the mission of harassing the German air raid warning system. The 329th flew these missions until March 1943 when they rejoined the 93d at Hardwick.
446th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
Additional construction was performed at Bungay until November 1943 when the airfield received the Eighth Air Force 446th Bombardment Group (Heavy) from Lowry AAF, Colorado. The 446th was assigned to the 20th Combat Bombardment Wing and the group tail code was a "Circle-H". Its operational squadrons were:
- 704th Bombardment Squadron (FL)
- 705th Bombardment Squadron (HN)
- 706th Bombardment Squadron (RT)
- 707th Bombardment Squadron (JU)
The 446th operated chiefly against strategic objectives on the Continent from December 1943 until April 1945. Targets included U-boat installations at Kiel, the port at Bremen, a chemical plant at Ludwigshafen, ball-bearing works at Berlin, aero-engine plants at Rostock, aircraft factories at Munich, marshalling yards at Coblenz, motor works at Ulm, and oil refineries at Hamburg.
Besides strategic missions, the group often carried out support and interdictory operations. It supported the Normandy landings in June 1944 by attacking strong points, bridges, airfields, transportation, and other targets in France. It aided ground forces at Caen and Saint-Lô during July by hitting bridges, gun batteries, and enemy troops. Dropped supplies to Allied troops near Nijmegen during the airborne attack on the Netherlands in September. Bombed marshalling yards, bridges, and road junctions during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 - January 1945. Dropped supplies to airborne and ground troops near Wesel during the Allied assault across the Rhine in March 1945.
The 446th Bomb Group flew its last combat mission on 25 April, attacking a bridge near Salzburg. It returned to Sioux Falls AAF, South Dakota, during June and July 1945, being inactivated there on 18 August 1945.
In 1946 it was returned to RAF control and was assigned to No. 53 Maintenance Unit RAF and became a maintenance sub-unit of No. 94 MU RAF which had its HQ at RAF Great Ashfield. Stored on the runways and in the buildings, were 250 lb., 500 lb., 2000 lb., and 4,00 lb. bombs, balloon cable cutting cartridges, depth charges, 7-inch parachute flares and German ammunition. The latter two items were eventually taken to 53 MU at RAF Pulham, and destroyed there. Some time in July 1949, the site was taken over by 53 MU until Bungay's closure in 1955. The airfield was eventually put up for sale and disposed of in 1961/1962.
With the end of military control Bungay airfield was the location of the Martlesham Heath Parachute Club, with Cessna 182 G-ATNU and crop sprayers, including Pawnee D G-BFRY. In 1981-82, the Flixton Church Roof Restoration Fund held mini air shows. Until 1983, the main runway and peritrack were in good condition, but the following year work started on breaking them up.
In the spring of 1986 a new set of oak gates were hung at St Mary's Church, Flixton, which stands close to the old airfield. These were bought as a result of donations by veterans of the 446th BG to replace those originally presented in 1945 by the Americans at Flixton. A small memorial plaque carries the inscription, "These gates were presented in memory of the men of the 446th Bombardment Group, USAAF, who gave their lives in the defence of freedom, 1941-1945".
Of the airfield itself, most of the wartime buildings, including the control tower and hangars, have long since been demolished and the airfield has largely returned to agricultural use. Several buildings in the technical site survive, with wartime paintings on the inside walls of the former dining hall.
The former airfield is the home of 2 Sisters Food Group Buxted Chickens factory. There is also a large mushroom farm. In the early 2000s, Bungay's largest employer Clays, part of St Ives Group, failed to gain planning permission to re-site their printing factory on the airfield.
Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum
An aircraft museum has been established since 1972 next to the Buck Inn, Flixton, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) northwest of the airfield site. It contains many displays of aircraft and other aviation artefacts, including much on the 446th Bomb Group.
- Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-09-6
- Jansen, Harold E. (1989) The History of the 446th Bombardment Group (Heavy). Published by Elmar, Rijswijk (ZH), The Netherlands, Limited Edition of 2.000 copies. ISBN 90-6120-661-8
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers—1908 to present
- www.controltowers.co.uk Bungay
- Bungay at mighty8thaf.preller.us
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