RAF Bungay


RAF Bungay

Infobox Military Structure
name= Royal Air Force Station Bungay
Royal Air Force Station Flixton
HMS Europa
USAAF Station 125
location= Located Near Beccles, Suffolk, United Kingdom
coordinates=coord|52|25|54|N|001|24|41|E|


caption= Bungay Airfield - 6 October 1945
type= Military Airfield
code=JO
built=1942
builder=
materials=
height=
used=1942-1955
demolished=
condition=
ownership=
controlledby=United States Army Air Forces
Royal Navy
Royal Air Force
garrison=Eighth Air Force
Fleet Air Arm
RAF Maintenance Command
commanders=
occupants=
battles= European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945 Location map|Suffolk
label =
lat = 52.43
long = 1.41
caption = Map showing the location of RAF Bungay within Suffolk.
float = right
background = white
width = 200

RAF Bungay (also known as Flixton) is a former World War II airfield in England. The field is located 6 miles SW of Beccles in Suffolk on the south bank of the Waveney River close to the B1062 Harleston to Bungay road.

The airfield is also known as Flixton after the village near which it was built.

Overview

Bungay airfield was originally planned as a satellite base for RAF Hardwick and was constructed by Kirk & Kirk Ltd., during 1942 with a main runway of 6,000 feet in length and two intersecting secondary runways, one of 4220 feet and the other of 4,200 feet. In common with other airfields of the period, the technical, administrative and domestic buildings were dispersed to lessen the impact of any enemy air attack. The buildings were all of a temporary nature and the various sites were chiefly to the west of the airfield.

USAAF use

The airfield was turned over to the United States Army Air Force Eighth Air Force and designated Station 125.

428th Bomb Squadron

Bungay was still unfinished when the 428th Bomb Squadron, assigned to the 310th Bombbardment Group (Medium) at RAF Hardwick arrived with fourteen B-25 Mitchell medium bombers in October 1942. The squadron moved on to Mediouna, French Morocco on 18 November.

329th Bomb Squadron

In December 1942, eight B-24 Liberators the 329th Bomb Squadron of the 93d Bombardment Group (Heavy) at RAF Hardwick were sent to Bungay to prepare for special intruder operations. These aircraft conducted raids in bad weather with the mission of harassing the German air raid warning system. The 329th flew these missions until March 1943 when they rejoined the 93d at Hardwick.

446th Bombardment Group (Heavy)

Additional construction was performed at Bungay until November 1943 when the airfield received the Eighth Air Force 446th Bombardment Group (Heavy) from Lowry AAF Colorado. The 446th was assigned to the 20th Combat Bombardment Wing and the group tail code was a "Circle-H". It's operational squadrons were:

* 704th Bomb Squadron (FL)
* 705th Bomb Squadron (HN)
* 706th Bomb Squadron (RT)
* 707th Bomb Squadron (JU)The 446th opeated chiefly against strategic objectives on the Continent from December 1943 until April 1945. Targets included U-boat installations at Kiel, the port at Bremen, a chemical plant at Ludwigshafen, ball-bearing works at Berlin, aero-engine plants at Rostock, aircraft factories at Munich, marshalling yards at Coblenz, motor works at Ulm, and oil refineries at Hamburg.

Besides strategic missions, the group often carried out support and interdictory operations. It supported the Normandy invasion in June 1944 by attacking strong points, bridges, airfields, transportation, and other targets in France. Aided ground forces at Caen and St Lo during July by hitting bridges, gun batteries, and enemy troops. Dropped supplies to Allied troops near Nijmegen during the airborne attack on Holland in September. Bombed marshalling yards, bridges, and road junctions during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 - January 1945. Dropped supplies to airborne and ground troops near Wesel during the Allied assault across the Rhine in March 1945.

The 446th Bomb Group flew its last combat mission on 25 April, attacking a bridge near Salzburg. It returned to Sioux Falls AAF South Dakota during June and July 1945, being deactivated there on 18 August 1945.

Royal Navy/Royal Air Force use

After the war, the field was turned over to the Royal Navy and the station became HMS Europa, being the satellite of HMS Sparrowhawk (RNAS Hatston) where 3 Fleet Air Arm squadrons were based.

In 1946 it was returned to RAF control and was assigned to No. 53 Maintenance Unit and became a maintenance sub-unit of 94 MU which had its HQ at RAF Great Ashfield. Stored on the runways and in the buildings, were 250 lb., 500 lb., 2000 lb., and 4000 lb. bombs, balloon cable cutting cartridges, depth charges, 7" parachute flares and German ammunition. The latter two items were eventually taken to 53 MU at RAF Pulham, and destroyed there. Some time in July 1949, the site was taken over by 53 MU until Bungay's closure in 1955. The airfield was eventually put up for sale and disposed of in 1961/1962.

Civil Use

With the end of military control Bungay airfield was the base of the Martlesham Heath Parachute Club, with Cessna 182 G-ATNU and crop sprayers, including Pawnee D G-BFRY. In 1981-82, the Flixton Church Roof Restoration Fund held mini air shows. Until 1983, the main runway and peritrack were in good condition, but the following year work started on breaking them up.

In the spring of 1986 a new set of oak gates were hung at St Mary’s Church, Flixton, which stands close to the old airfield. These were bought as a result of donations by veterans of the 446th BG to replace those originally presented in 1945 by the Americans at Flixton. A small memorial plaque carries the inscription, "These gates were presented in memory of the men of the 446th Bombardment Group, USAAF, who gave their lives in the defence of freedom, 1941-1945".

Of the airfield itself, most of the wartime buildings, including the control tower and hangars, have long since been demolished and the airfield has largely returned to agricultural use. Several buildings in the technical site survive, with wartime paintings on the inside walls of the former dining hall.

The former airfield is the home of Buxted Chickens and also a large mushroom farm, in the early 2000s, Bungay's largest employer Clays (St Ives Group) failed to gain planning permission to re-site their printing factory on the airfield.

ee also

* List of RAF stations
* USAAF Eighth Air Force - World War II

References

* Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0900913096
* Jansen, Harold E. (1989) The History of the 446th Bombardment Group (Heavy).
* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/usafserials.html] USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present
* [http://www.controltowers.co.uk/B/Bungay.htm] www.controltowers.co.uk Bungay
* [http://mighty8thaf.preller.us/php/1Loc.php?Base=Bungay] Bungay at mighty8thaf.preller.us

External links

* [http://www.multimap.com/map/photo.cgi?client=public&X=632000&Y=287000&scale=25000&width=700&height=400&gride=632400&gridn=286800&lang=&db=hcgaz&coordsys=gb Aerial Photo of RAF Bungay from Multimap.com]
* [http://www.bigenealogy.com/suffolk/flixton_parish2.htm Flixton Parish] — aka St Mary South Elmham
* [http://www.aviationmuseum.net/ Flixton Air Museum] — Norfolk and Suffolk
* [http://www.446bg.com/index.html 446th BG(H)]


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