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USAAF Station 113
|Located near Cheddington, Buckinghamshire|
Aerial photograph of RAF Cheddington looking north, the bomb dump at the top, the control tower and technical site are at the bottom, 3 March 1944. Note the many Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers of the Combat Crew Replacement Center parked on the loop hardstands.
Map showing the location of RAF Cheddington within Buckinghamshire
|Type||Royal Air Force station|
|Controlled by||Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
|Built||1942 (origins begin 1917)|
|Battles/wars||European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 – May 1945
|Garrison||Eighth Air Force|
Royal Air Force Cheddington or more simply RAF Cheddington (also known as RAF Marsworth) is a former Royal Air Force station located 1 mile (1.6 km) south-west of Cheddington, Buckinghamshire, England. The airfield was closed in 1952.
Cheddington was used as a First World War aerodrome briefly during 1917. The airfield was closed after the armistice.
During the Second World War, Cheddington Airfield opened in March 1942 as a satellite station to RAF Wing, with 26 Operational Training Unit, Vickers Wellington bombers (these had the codes "EU" on the aircraft sides).
In September 1942 the airfield was transferred to the United States Army Air Forces. The Eighth Air Force 44th Bombardment Group was assigned to Cheddington, and three Consolidated B-24 Liberator squadrons (66th, 67th, 68th) had arrived from the United States. However, Eighth Air Force wanted to move the Liberator groups to Norfolk, and the 44th moved to RAF Shipdham in October.
With the movement of the Americans to Norfolk, the RAF transferred the No. 26 OTU back to Cheddington.
It was again transferred to the USAAF Eighth Air Force in August 1943 to become station 113, with Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers of the Combat Crew Replacement Center, 8th Air Force. Also the 50th Fighter Squadron (8th Reconnaissance Group) was assigned to the station 15 March-12 April 1944, but was not made operational.
In 1944 specialist USAAF units arrived to perform special operations missions from the airfield, performing night leaflet drops over occupied areas of Europe, working with various special operations organizations, as well as electronic countermeasure (ECM) missions. Known squadrons assigned were:
- 850th Bombardment Squadron (VIII Air Force Composite Command) 11–27 May 1944 (B-24 Liberator)
- 858th Bombardment Squadron (VIII Air Force Composite Command) 19 June – 10 August 1944 (B-24 Liberator)
- 406th Bombardment Squadron (VIII Air Force Composite Command) 5 August 1944 – 16 March 1945 (B-24 Liberator)
- 36th Bombardment Squadron (VIII Air Force Composite Command) 15 August 1944 – 28 February 1945 (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator)
The result of these special operations missions was that the majority of surrendering German troops carried safe conduct passes dropped by these squadrons. Another psychological warfare tool was forged ration cards that disrupted local economies, when bearers flooded stores for scarce food goods.
The 36th Bomb Squadron flew specially equipped B-17s and B-24s to jam enemy early warning radars and telecommunications, screen assembly and inbound flights of allied bombers, and spoof the enemy into thinking that other bomber formations (nonexistent) were assembling. This early form of electronic warfare was very successful in disrupting German forces.
After the war the British Army used of the airfield and the site eventually closed in 1952.
There is some evidence [Luton/Hemel Hempstead Evening Post Echo newspaper] that strongly suggests this facility was used as a CIA weapons dump. This weapons dump held Soviet Bloc small arms (AK 47s, RPGs, etc.) for a special combined CIA/MI6 Cold War operation, code named Operation GLADIO. The specific duties of Op. GLADIO operatives was "behind the lines" resistance activities. The concept was that IF Western Europe was invaded by the Warsaw Pact, that such units could disrupt the invaders "lines of communications and supplies". Duncan Campbell, in his title War Plan UK & The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier, refers to this base facility by its CIA radio call-sign of "X-Ray Zero Niner". Today, a number of the strengthened (although NOT armoured) ammo block houses still stand on the industrial estate. The scrap yard near the far end of the estate retains the two earth concrete revetment walls, that allowed truck access to the block house doors. It also gives some scale of the removed earth bund revetment beams carefully constructed around ALL the block houses (prior to their demolition for industrial units). It was the activity of Ronnie Biggs et alia that exposed the presence of this supposedly secret base to the media (being within spitting distance of their event venue). The BBC used a current affairs programme, a few weeks after the Great Train Robbery, to expose this base to the world.
Today the runways and assorted taxiways, hardstands and aprons have all been removed for hardcore. There is a significant number of wartime buildings in various levels of abandonment on what was the technical site along the south eastern part of the original perimeter road, and also can be seen from Marsworth lane and Google earth, a private grass runway used by private light aircraft.
A memorial to all staff based at Cheddington during WWII was erected by the Cheddington (STN113) Association in 1980. It can be seen on the Marsworth to Long Marston road, next to the old guard room. Built within the memorial is an old runway light.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
- Pat Carty - Secret Squadrons of the Eighth - covers all the war years at Cheddington
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to RAF Cheddington.|