RAF Old Buckenham
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|RAF Old Buckenham
USAAF Station 144
|Located Near Old Buckenham, Norfolk, England|
Aerial Photo of Old Buckenham Airfield - 30 March 1946
|Controlled by|| Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
|Battles/wars||European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
|Garrison||Eighth Air Force
RAF Maintenance Command
|Occupants||453rd Bombardment Group|
Royal Air Force Station Old Buckenham (RAF Old Buckenham) is a former Royal Air Force station located 2 miles (3.2 km) south east of Attleborough, Norfolk, England which was used during World War II by the United States for the strategic bombing campaign against Germany.
The airfield is in civilian use as Old Buckenham Airport. At the centre of the modern-day airfield is a black granite memorial to the 366 United States Army Air Force (USAAF) servicemen who died serving from the base in World War II. The airfield mainly handles General Aviation traffic. A 1941 Boeing Stearman operates from the airfield and a 1943 Dunkirk veteran Piper J-3 Cub is also based at the field. The airfield has adopted a shield carved in wood by a serving USAAF officer at the base during the war as its logo.
Old Buckenham airfield was built during 1942-43 for the USAAF Eighth Air Force. It was given designation USAAF Air Station 144.
453rd Bombardment Group (Heavy)
The airfield was opened in late 1943 and was used by the 453rd Bombardment Group (Heavy), arriving from March Field, California on 23 December 1943. The 453d was assigned to the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing, and the group tail code was a "Circle-J". Its operational squadrons were:
- 732d Bombardment Squadron (E3)
- 733d Bombardment Squadron (F8)
- 734th Bombardment Squadron (E8)
- 735th Bombardment Squadron (H6)
The group flew Consolidated B-24 Liberators as part of the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign.
The 453d BG entered combat on 5 February 1944 with an attack against an airfield at Tours. Throughout combat, the unit served chiefly as a strategic bombardment organization. Targets included a fuel depot at Dulmen, marshalling yards at Paderborn, aircraft assembly plants at Gotha, railway centres at Hamm, an ordnance depot at Glinde, oil refineries at Gelsenkirchen, chemical works at Leverkusen, an airfield at Neumünster, a canal at Minden, and a railway viaduct at Altenbeken.
The group took part in the concentrated attack against the German aircraft industry during "Big Week", 20–25 February 1944. Besides strategic operations, the group engaged in support and interdiction missions. Bombed V-weapon sites, airfields, and gun batteries in France prior to the invasion of Normandy in June 1944; on 6 June hit shore installations between Le Havre and Cherbourg and other enemy positions farther inland. Attacked enemy troops in support of the Allied breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July. Bombed German communications during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944-January 1945. Ferried cargo on two occasions: hauled gasoline, blankets, and rations to France in September 1944; dropped ammunition, focal, and medical supplies near Wesel during the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945.
James "Jimmy" Stewart, the Hollywood movie star, was Group Operations Officer at Old Buckenham during the spring of 1944.
The 453d Bomb Group flew its last combat mission in April. Initially it was prepared for possible redeployment to the Pacific theatre using Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. However hostilities in Europe had ceased before the group had time to start its movement and it returned to New Castle AAFld, Delaware on 9 May 1945 to be inactivated on 12 September 1945.
Air Ministry use
In May 1945, Old Buckenham reverted to Air Ministry control and was used as a satellite for maintenance units until being closed on 20 June 1960.
With the end of military control Old Buckenham has largely been converted back to agriculture with much of the concrete areas being ground into aggregate and being sold in the Norwich area. Today several original buildings and concrete pads remain at the site, the majority of which form part of Old Buckenham Airport an active 126 acre airfield site with one hard runway and two grass strips. Old Buckenham Airfield has recently been sold to an aviation enthusiast, Geoffrey Lynch OBE who has pledged to keep aviation at the site.
In May 1983, during the 2nd Air Division reunion, the 453rd Bomb Group dedicated an extension to the Village Hall at Old Buckenham as a memorial to the members of the Group who lost their lives serving in the UK. The room contains various wartime artefacts and memorabilia and a large bronze plaque listing those who are remembered.
A large black granite memorial to the 366 USAAF servicemen is at the centre of the modern-day airfield.It is in the form of a tailplane from a Consolidated B-24 Liberator. In October 2012 the stone was moved from its previous location into a specially created memorial garden. Under new airfield management since 2011 an annual Remembrance Sunday service is held which regularly attracts over 400 participants.
453rd Bomb Group Museum
In February 2015, it was announced that the airfield has applied for permission to erect a museum at the site. The plans are for the erection of two Nissen Huts, one of which will house an items described as having the potential to be the largest collection of 453rd Bomb Group memorabilia in existence.
- Link to Flying School offering flights in Stearman from Old Buckenham
- Old Buckenham Airfield Website
- Maurer 1980
- Freeman 2001
- Current Old Buckenham Airfield Website
- Eastern Daily Press Work Starts on New Memorial Garden at Norfolk Airfield, October 23rd 2012
- "Old Buckenham Airfield submits plans to house collection of 453rd bomb group memorabilia" Eastern Daily Press, 4th February 2015
- Freeman, R. Airfields of the Eighth - Then and Now. After the Battle. London, UK: Battle of Britain International Ltd., 2001. ISBN 0-9009-13-09-6.
- Roger Anthony Freeman (2001-03-01). The Mighty Eighth: The Color Record. Cassell. ISBN 978-0-304-35708-6.
- Maurer, M. Ai r Force Combat Units Of World War II. USAF Historical Division. Washington D.C., USA: Zenger Publishing Co., Inc, 1980. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Old Buckenham www.controltowers.co.uk
- Old Buckenham mighty8thaf.preller.us Old Buckenham
- Stuart J. Wright, An Emotional Gauntlet: From Life in Peacetime America to the War in European Skies (University of Wisconsin Press, 2004) - a history of 453rd Bomb Group crews
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to RAF Old Buckenham.|