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RAF Old Buckenham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

RAF Old Buckenham
USAAF Station 144
Old Buckenham, Norfolk in England
Aerial Photo of Old Buckenham Airfield - 30 March 1946
RAF Old Buckenham is located in Norfolk
RAF Old Buckenham
RAF Old Buckenham
Location within Norfolk
Coordinates52°30′14″N 1°03′47″E / 52.504°N 1.063°E / 52.504; 1.063
Site information
OwnerAir Ministry
OperatorRoyal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Controlled byEighth Air Force
RAF Maintenance Command
Site history
Built1942 (1942)
In use1943-1960 (1960)
Battles/warsEuropean Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
Garrison information
Garrison453rd Bombardment Group
Airfield information
Direction Length and surface
00/00  Concrete
00/00  Concrete
00/00  Concrete

Royal Air Force 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 the Second World War 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 the Second World War. The airfield mainly handles General Aviation traffic. A 1941 Boeing Stearman operates from the airfield[1] and a 1943 D Day 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.[2]



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:

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 Dülmen, 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, food, 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. Stewart's fellow actor Walter Matthau was also based at Old Buckenham.

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.[3][4]

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.


Current use

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.[6] 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.

War memorial

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.[7] Under new airfield management since 2011 an annual Remembrance Sunday service is held which regularly attracts over 400 participants.

453rd Bomb Group Museum & 8th Air Force Heritage Gallery

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 items described as having the potential to be the largest collection of 453rd Bomb Group memorabilia in existence.[8]

The 453rd Bombardment Group Museum opened on Remembrance Sunday 2015.[9]

An additional Museum, said to complement the 453rd Museum, was opened on Remembrance Sunday 2017 by United States Navy Captain (United States O-6) Poston, whose Great Uncle served in the 453rd Bombardment Group at RAF Old Buckenham. The new museum covers the wider subject of the Eighth Air Force of which the 453rd were a part.[10]

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website


  1. ^ Link to Flying School offering flights in Stearman from Old Buckenham
  2. ^ Old Buckenham Airfield Website
  3. ^ Maurer 1980
  4. ^ Freeman 2001
  5. ^ "Old Buckenham". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  6. ^ Current Old Buckenham Airfield Website
  7. ^ Eastern Daily Press "Work Starts on New Memorial Garden at Norfolk Airfield, October 23rd 2012"
  8. ^ "Old Buckenham Airfield submits plans to house collection of 453rd bomb group memorabilia" Eastern Daily Press, 4 February 2015
  9. ^ "New Museum to Bomber Crews Set To Open at Old Buckenham Airfield". Diss Mercury. 7 November 2015.
  10. ^ "New Museum Old Buckenham Airfield". Diss Mercury. 8 November 2017.


External links

This page was last edited on 7 June 2020, at 14:23
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