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Watton

Military site : airfield

Built in 1939 as a medium bomber station with a grass airfield, Watton was occupied by the RAF until handed over to the Eighth Air Force in mid-1943. Improved initially with a single steel mat runway in 1943, plus 41 loop and 12 pan hardstandings, a single concrete runway was laid in 1944. The original four C hangars were supplemented by two B1, three T2 and three blister hangars. Expanded to become the 3rd Strategic Air Depot, responsible for overhaul and repair of the B-24s operated by the 2nd Air Division, the Air Depot complex was built in the village of Griston on the southern edge of Watton airfield, although was named officially Neaton. The 802nd Reconnaissance Group (Provisional), later the 25th Bomb Group (Reconnaissance), equipped with B-17s, B-24s and Mosquito XVIs, shared the airfield with the Air Depot from April 1944 to July 1945. Its three component squadrons conducted weather reconnaissance, weather scouting, photographic reconnaissance and other special duty missions in enemy air space. The Air Depot closed in July 1945 and the station was handed back to the RAF in September 1945. It became home to the Radio Warfare Establishment, later the Central Signals Establishment, and then one of the five units in the joint military/civil National Air Traffic Services Organisation. The airfield closed in the 1970s and the station was handed over to the British Army in the 1990s. The northern part of the site was sold in 1995 for development of a new housing estate, and most of the airfield was sold in 2012 to new private owners for return to agriculture and other development.

Detailed history

Not yet known

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known

Service

Units

People

  • James Agerton

    Military | Sergeant (Technician Fourth Grade) | Machinist | 466th Bomb Group

  • Robert Allison

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 25th Bomb Group
    Assigned 652BS, 25BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Atlantic weather mission 17-Mar-45 in B-17 44-8601; Allah weather flight disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. Believed to have ditched west of St. Eval due to mechanical failure. Killed in Action ...

  • Raymond Armstrong

    Military | Master Sergeant | Radar Technician | 25th Bomb Group
    KIFA aircraft de Havilland DH98 Mosquito NS538 exploded mid-air near Newmarket/Kennet during test flight.

  • Robert Balser

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 25th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 654BS, 25BG, 8AF USAAF. Chaff-dispensing mission to Hamburg in Mosquito RF999 20-Mar-45. RTD Awards: AM, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Wendell Biggers

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 25th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 653BS, 25BG, 8AF USAAF. Awards: AM, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • James Birch

    Military | Sergeant | Aircraft Mechanic

  • Bernard Blaum

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 25th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 654BS, 25BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to return from Graypea mission (chaff dispensing) mission to Hamburg, Germany in Mosquito RF996, 20-Mar-45. Suffered fuel vapour lock to both engines. Baled out over Fohr, Germany Prisoner of War (POW) MACR...

  • Warren Borges

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 25th Bomb Group
    He flew 35 missions from May/June to December 1944 in the 306th BG. Then flew Mosquitos Mark XVI from December 1944 to August 1945 for photo and Weather Recon in the 25th BG, 653/654 BS. Awards: DFC, AM, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Bernard Boucher

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 25th Bomb Group
    Scheduled mission bluestocking weather mission over Germany. de Havilland DH98 Mosquito PR Mk XVI NS752 - Take Off 14:48 hrs crashed after take off from its base Buckley AAF Station 336. 25-Mar-45. Returned to Duty (RTD) Awards: WWII Victory, EAME..

  • George Brooks

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 25th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 654BS, 25BG, 8AF USAAF. On 25-Oct-44 night photography mission to Duisberg (Joker) in Mosquito NS582. Baled out, struck tail of plane. Killed in Action (KIA) Awards: PH.

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Aircraft

  • 42-102521

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 10/3/44; Hunter 16/4/44; Dow Fd 29/4/44; Assigned 652BS/25BG Watton 30/4/44; Returned to the USA 4100 BU Patterson 4/2/45; 1103 BU Morrison 27/2/45; Recl Comp 2/5/46.

  • 42-30212 Quarterback

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 29/4/43; Sioux City 14/5/43; Smoky Hill 11/6/43; Dow Fd 16/6/43; Assigned 562BS/388BG Knettishall 17/6/43; transferred Aphrodite project, Missing in Action V-sites, Watten 6/8/44 with Lt Joeseph P Andrecheck & T/Sgt Raymond Healy (2...

  • 42-3095 'Peggy Ann'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 26-Jan-43; Pueblo 1-Feb-43; Dow Field, Bangor, Maine 10-Jun-43; Assigned 412BS/95BG [QW-Z] Horham 2-Jul-43; 14m, (force landed Eye AF 22/2/44), transferred SAD 1-Mar-44; 94BG Rougham 25-Jul-43; 25BG Watton 1-Apr-44; 2 BAD 19-Jun-44;...

  • 42-31130

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Dallas 23/9/43; Gr Island 11/10/43; Wilmington 13/10/43; Assigned 652BS/25BG Watton 16/10/43; Returned to the USA 4000 BU Patterson 16/4/46; 4185 BU Independence 29/10/46; 4000 BU Patterson 30/10/46; re-ass USN (CB-17) 31/3/47; 4141 BU Pyote...

  • 42-31674

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 6/12/43; Kearney 8/1/44; Detroit 26/1/44; Grenier 30/1/44; Assigned 652BS/25BG Watton 31/1/44; Salvaged n/battle damaged 29/5/45.

  • 42-31736

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 11/12/43; Gr Island 24/12/43; Detroit 25/1/44; Presque Is 30/1/44; Assigned 652BS/25BG Watton 325Photo Wing 5/2/44; crashed on take off for weather recon to Azores 6/6/44 with Clarry Stephenson, Co-pilot: Joe Ward, Navigator: Gene...

  • 42-3259 Snafu, Alabama Whirlwind

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 13/4/43; Cheyenne 16/4/43; Dow Fd 30/4/43; Assigned 332BS/94BG [XM-D] SNAFU Earls Colne 10/5/43; Rougham 13/6/43; transferred 546BS/384BG [BK-N] Grafton Underwood 16/7/43; 545BS [JD-T]; 2 SAD Lt Staughton 31/12/43; Shipdam Afd 1/3/44;...

  • 42-3279

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 21/4/43; Dow Fd 21/5/43; Assigned 350BA/100BG Podington 2/6/43; Thorpe Abbotts 9/6/43; transferred 625BS/25BG Watton; detailed RAF St Eval, Cornwall 29/5/44 with Mike Lorens, Co-pilot: Larry Ketterer, Navigator: Nathan Swerdelowe,...

  • 42-3465 'Wee Bonnie'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 28/6/43; Presque Is 17/8/43; Assigned 412BS/95BG [QW-N] Horham 30/8/43; force landed Bassingbourn Afd 16/10/43; force landed RAF Friston 30/11/43 with James W Conley (7 Returned to Duty), Navigator: Robert J Fogarty, Bombardier: Royal...

  • 42-39777 'Stumble Butt'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Long Beach 28/8/43; Scott 29/9/43; Assigned 802 Recon Group (P), 7/10/43; re-assigned 625BS/25BG(R) Watton, as a weather ship from 1 SAD Lt Staughton, Sfk. sal after overshut runway at Watton, with ? no crew named; Salvaged 3SAD 17/9/44....

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Revisions

Date Contributor Update
04 January 2015 12:53:57 Al_Skiff Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

USAAF Photo.

Date Contributor Update
02 January 2015 13:08:40 Al_Skiff Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

USAAF Photo.

Date Contributor Update
30 December 2014 07:25:59 Al_Skiff Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

http://aviation-safety.net

Date Contributor Update
30 December 2014 07:08:09 Al_Skiff Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

http://aviation-safety.net

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:02:18 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Barry Anderson, Army Air Forces Stations (Alabama, 1985) / Roger Freeman, Airfields of the Eighth Then And Now (London, 1978)

Roger Freeman, Mighty Eighth War Manual (2nd edn, London, 2001)

Michael Bowyer, Action Stations 1: Wartime Military Airfields of East Anglia 1939-1945 (Cambridge, 1979)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Watton

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