RAF Matlaske

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RAF Matlaske
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgEighth Air Force - Emblem (World War II).pngFlag of the British Army (1938-present).svg
Matlaske Airfield Memorial 31 August 2014.JPG
Memorial near the site
Airport type Military
Owner Air Ministry
Operator Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
British Army
Location Matlaske, Norfolk
Built 1940 (1940)
In use 1940-1945 (1945)
Elevation AMSL 177 ft / 54 m
Coordinates 52°51′38″N 001°11′22″E / 52.86056°N 1.18944°E / 52.86056; 1.18944Coordinates: 52°51′38″N 001°11′22″E / 52.86056°N 1.18944°E / 52.86056; 1.18944
RAF Matlaske is located in Norfolk
RAF Matlaske
RAF Matlaske
Location in Norfolk
Direction Length Surface
ft m
00/00 0,000 0,000 Concrete
00/00 0,000 0,000 Concrete
00/00 0,000 0,000 Concrete
Aerial photograph of Matlaske airfield looking north, Matlaske village is at the top, 27 June 1946.

RAF Matlaske was a satellite air field of the Royal Air Force to RAF Coltishall, situated near Matlaske in Norfolk, England.


There was a small aerodrome, details of which are not known, at Matlaske before the war started, then the site was approved for requisition by the Air Ministry in August 1939, with construction works beginning in the summer of 1940. RAF Matlaske became operational in October 1940[1] as a satellite station to RAF Coltishall when Spitfires of No. 72 Squadron were briefly dispersed there. The airfield was grass-covered throughout its life and had two main landing runs, of which one was 1,600.00 yards (1,463.04 m) with the other being 1,300.00 yards (1,188.72 m).[1]

Luftwaffe attack[edit]

On 29 October 1940[1] the Luftwaffe attacked the airfield at Matlaske. This attack followed the bombing of RAF Coltishall two days before which had necessitated the re-location of some of the Spitfires of 72 Squadron to Matlaske. Five Dornier[2] aircraft carried out the attack, strafing the base and causing damage to parked aircraft as well as inflicting several casualties to personnel. On 12 May 1941[1] the Luftwaffe attacked the base again but this time they bombed using Incendiary bombs. The attack had limited success with only minor damage caused and no personnel casualties.

United States Army Air Force[edit]

In September 1942, the airfield was allocated to the 8th United States Army Air Forces ostensibly for use as a fighter base by P-47 Thunderbolts of the 56th Fighter Group from RAF Kings Cliffe but nothing is recorded of any use by that unit.

Royal Air Force[edit]

From November 1941 to August 1942 the base was host to No. 137 Squadron, one of only two RAF squadrons to fly the unique twin-engine fighter, the Westland Whirlwind, when it was engaged on East coast convoy patrols and anti-shipping tasks. It was supported by the Air Sea Rescue squadron No. 278, Matlaske-based from October 1941 to April 1942.

Nos. 56, 195, 245, 266 and 609 Squadrons flying Hawker Typhoons, plus Nos. 19, 222, 229, 453, 602 and 611 Squadrons flying the Supermarine Spitfire, and No. 601 Squadron - the only one flying the Hawker Hurricane from here, were based or detached here at various times between October 1940 to April 1945.

From April to May 1943, No. 1489 Flight RAF conducted target towings with Hawker Henleys, Westland Lysanders, M.25 Martinets and M.9 Masters, which were based at RAF Coltishall and RAF Sutton Bridge and detached to Matlaske as required.

In August 1943, the airfield was transferred to Care and Maintenance and the facilities improved. Reopened in September 1944 it was used further by 3, 19, 56, 65, 122, 229, 451, 453, 485, 486 and 602 Squadrons at various times until April 1945, the RAF vacating the site in October 1945.


The following Royal Air Force units served at Matlaske at one point or another during World War II:

Royal Air Force[edit]

Royal Australian Air Force[edit]

United States Army Air Forces[edit]


The following aircraft types served at the base:



  1. ^ a b c d Smith, Graham (2007). Norfolk Airfields in the Second World War. Section 21 – Matlaske – Reference to the Luftwaffe attacks on the airfield. Countryside Books. p. 164. ISBN 9781853063206. 
  2. ^ "Matlaske – (Matlask)". Reference to the type of German Aircraft used in the attack. Control Towers .co.uk. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 


  • Jefford, C.G, MBE,BA ,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.