RAF Little Walden
|RAF Little Walden
USAAF Station AAF-165
|Located Near Saffron Walden, Essex, England|
Little Walden Airfield - 9 July 1946. The administrative and dispersed domestic accommodation sites are located on the southeast side of the airfield
Map showing the location of RAF Little Walden within Essex.
|Controlled by||United States Army Air Forces|
|Battles/wars||European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
|Garrison||Ninth Air Force
Eighth Air Force
|Occupants||409th Bombardment Group
361st Fighter Group
RAF Little Walden (also known as Hadstock) is a former Royal Air Force station in Essex, England. The airfield is located approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) north-northeast of Saffron Walden; about 38 miles (61 km) north-northeast of London
Opened in 1944, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces. During the war it was used primarily as a bomber and fighter combat airfield. After the war it was used for surplus military storage before being closed in 1958.
Today the remains of the airfield are located on private property being used as agricultural fields.
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Little Walden airfield was assigned to the USAAF in August 1942 and was assigned to the Eighth Air Force. It was known as USAAF Station AAF-165 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 "LL".
409th Bombardment Group (Light)
The airfield was opened on 9 March 1944 and was first used by the United States Army Air Forces Ninth Air Force 409th Bombardment Group (Light), which arrived from DeRidder Army Airbase, Louisiana. The group consisted of the following squadrons and had the following fuselage codes:
- 640th Bombardment Squadron (W5)
- 641st Bombardment Squadron (7G)
- 642d Bombardment Squadron (D6)
- 643d Bombardment Squadron (5I)
The 409th flew the A-20 "Havoc" and A-26 "Invader" light bomber. The group moved to their Advanced Landing Ground in at Bretigny, France (A-48) to support Third Army's advance toward Germany on 10 September.
In February 1945 the 409th moved to Laon-Couvron Air Base (A-70) France, remaining until June. The group returned to the United States and was inactivated at Seymour Johnson AAF North Carolina on 6 October 1945.
361st Fighter Group
With the departure of the 409th, Little Walden was transferred to the Eighth Air Force which transferred the 361st Fighter Group from RAF Bottisham to the airfield on 26 September 1944. The group was under the command of the 65th Fighter Wing of the VIII Fighter Command. Aircraft of the group were identified by yellow around their cowling.
The group consisted of the following squadrons:
At Little Walden, the 361st served primarily as a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress/Consolidated B-24 Liberator escort organization, covering the penetration, attack, and withdrawal of bomber formations that the USAAF sent against targets on the Continent. The group also engaged in counter-air patrols, fighter sweeps, and strafing and dive-bombing missions. Attacked such targets as airfields, marshalling yards, missile sites, industrial areas, ordnance depots, oil refineries, trains, and highways.
The group supported the airborne attack on the Netherlands in September 1944 and deployed to Chievres, Belgium between February and April 1945 flying tactical ground support missions during the airborne assault across the Rhine.
The unit returned to Little Walden and flew its last combat mission on 20 April 1945.
493rd Bombardment Group (Heavy)
The 493d Bombardment Group (Heavy) transferred from RAF Debach in March 1945. The group flew a few combat missions at the very end of the war, the last being an attack on marshalling yards at Nauen, on 20 April 1945.
56th Fighter Group
The 56th Fighter Group transferred from RAF Boxted in September 1945 after Boxted was turned over to the RAF. The group used Little Walden as a staging area on its way to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey where it was inactivated on 16 October.
Postwar RAF use
Little Walden airfield was finally declared surplus and was sold, returning to agricultural use in May 1958.
With the end of military control, the airfield hangars found uses as a grain store and for warehouse space. The technical site was eventually developed for a variety of light industries.
Today very little remains of the former wartime airfield. Only a few small concreted areas used by agricultural buildings remain. None of the runways, or hardstands or perimeter track remain at full width, being converted to single lane agricultural roads. The ghostly remains of some loop hardstands and the ends of the main runways are visible as disturbed earth in aerial photography.
After remaining derelict for many years, the control tower Escape to the Country.was restored and contains a memorial to the USAAF groups that used Little Walden airfield. It was later converted to a residential home and featured on the BBC TV series
- Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-09-6
- Freeman, Roger A. (1991) The Mighty Eighth: The Colour Record. Cassell & Co. ISBN 0-304-35708-1
- Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-80-0
- Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1-85409-272-3
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
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