RAF Staplehurst

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Royal Air Force Staplehurst
USAAF Station AAF-413
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg
RCAF-Roundel.svg
Patch9thusaaf.png
Located Near Staplehurst, Kent, United Kingdom
Staplehurst-21may1944.jpg
Staplehurst Airfield, two weeks before D-Day on 21 May 1944. Note the blister hangar just to the west of the 19 runway. The improvised technical site and airfield station is located to the north of the 10 runway.
Coordinates 51°09′42″N 000°34′18″E / 51.16167°N 0.57167°E / 51.16167; 0.57167
Type Military airfield
Code SH
Site information
Controlled by RCAF-Roundel.svg  Royal Canadian Air Force (1943-1944)
US Army Air Corps Hap Arnold Wings.svg  United States Army Air Forces (1944)
Site history
Built 1943
In use 1943-1944
Battles/wars

European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945

RAF Staplehurst is located in Kent
RAF Staplehurst
RAF Staplehurst, shown within Kent
Garrison information
Garrison RCAF Fighter Command
Ninth Air Force
Occupants Nos. 401, 411 and 41 RCAF
363d Fighter Group
North American P-51B-5 Mustang, Serial 43-6830 of the 382d Fighter Squadron.

RAF Staplehurst is a former World War II airfield in Kent, England. The airfield is located approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) northeast of Staplehurst; about 38 miles (61 km) southeast of London.

Opened in 1943, Staplehurst was a prototype for temporary Advanced Landing Grounds built in France after D-Day, and as the Allied forces moved east across France and Germany. It was used by the Royal Air Force, Canadian and the United States Army Air Forces. It was closed in September 1944.

Today the airfield is a mixture of agricultural fields with no recognizable remains, except a memorial now near the site.

Overview[edit]

The USAAF Ninth Air Force required several temporary Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) along the channel coast prior to the June 1944 Normandy invasion to provide tactical air support for the ground forces landing in France.

USAAF use[edit]

Staplehurst was known as USAAF Station AAF-413 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. It's USAAF Station Code was "SH".

363d Fighter Group[edit]

Staplehurst was chosen to house one of the Ninth Air Force's two P-51B Mustang fighter groups (The other being the 354th Fighter Group), and the 363d Fighter Group moved into Staplehurst on 14 April from RAF Rivenhall. The group consisted of the following operational squadrons and fuselage codes:

On 30 June the 363rd was alerted for movement to the Continent, its new base being the airfield at Maupertus (ALG A-15), near Cherbourg.

Civil use[edit]

Upon its release from military use, within a year there was little left to indicate that these 400 acres (1.6 km2) to the east of Staplehurst village had once been a thriving fighter airfield. Today, the farmland that was once RAF Staplehurst is unrecognizable as anything other than farmland. The location of the airfield can only be discerned by looking at the aerial photography and following the path of Chickenden Lane, which runs almost parallel the former main 10/28 runway. A few wartime buildings may be in agricultural use just to the northeast of the former airfield.

Memorial[edit]

There is a memorial now at this site located just off Chickenden Lane near the site of the former airfield. It was dedicated on 6 June 2010. It was attended by 95 year-old Col. John R. Ulricson who flew his P-51 "Lolita" from the Airfield, his son retired Army major C. Bruce Ulricson, who lives in Landaff and the patriarch’s grandson, N.H. Army National Guard Major Davis K. Ulricson, of Ashland. Local fundraising efforts included bottles of "Ulricsons Finest Staplehurst Ale" which on the label show Ulricson in front of his "Lolita", which reportedly made him smile. There was a flypast that included a P-51D "Big Beautiful Doll". It was supposed to include two USAF F-15's and the Kent Spitfire, but they did not show up due to weather. The dedication was preceded by a service at the church in Staplehurst.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

External links[edit]