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Royal Air Force Station Mendlesham
USAAF Station 156

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Patch 8thUSAAF.png

Located Near Stowmarket, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Mendelshamairfield-18jan47.png
Aerial Photo of Mendlesham Airfield - 18 January 1947.
Type Military Airfield
Coordinates 52°13′53.65″N 001°07′19.86″E / 52.2315694°N 1.1221833°E / 52.2315694; 1.1221833
Location code MD ?
Built 1943
In use 1944-1954
Controlled by Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Garrison RAF Fighter Command
Eighth Air Force
Occupants 34th Bombardment Group
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
RAF Mendlesham is located in Suffolk
RAF Mendlesham, shown within Suffolk

RAF Mendlesham is a former World War II airfield in England. The field is located 5 1/2 miles E of Stowmarket in Suffolk.

Contents

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RAF Fighter Command use

Mendlesham airfield was built in 1943 and the first flying unit based there was an RAF Fighter squadron which moved in during February 1944 and out in April. This was No. 310 Squadron equipped with Spitfire IXs and manned by Czechoslovakian pilots.

USAAF use

In March 1944, Mendlesham was allocated to the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force. It was assigned USAAF designation Station 156.

From 30 March 1944 though 11 July 1945, Mendlesham served as headquarters for the 93d Combat Bombardment Wing of the 3d Bomb Division

34th Bombardment Group (Heavy)

The first USAAF tenant was the United States Army Air Force Eighth Air Force 34th Bombardment Group (Heavy), arriving from Blythe AAF California. The 34th was assigned to the 93d Combat Bombardment Wing, and the group tail code was a "Square-S". It's operational squadrons were:

  • 4th Bomb Squadron (Q6)
  • 7th Bomb Squadron (R2)
  • 18th Bomb Squadron (8I)
  • 391st Bomb Squadron (3L)

The group flew both B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators as part of the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign.

34th Bomb Group Lockheed/Vega B-17G-65-VE Fortress Serial 44-8457
Douglas-Tulsa B-24H-15-DT Liberator Serial 41-28851 of the 7th Bomb Squadron. This aircraft was damaged during a mission on 24 August 1944 and made an emergency landing in Sweden (MACR 8461). The aircraft was interned until the end of the war then repaired and flown back to the UK in 1945.

The 34th flew 170 operations from the station, the first sixty-two while flying B-24 Liberators and the remainder with B-17G Fortresses. The change-over was made during the summer of 1944 when, in common with other groups assigned to the 93rd Combat Wing, the 3rd Division standardised on the Fortress. The group helped to prepare for the invasion of Normandy by bombing airfields in France and Germany, and supported the landing in June by attacking coastal defences and communications. Continued to take part in the campaign in France by supporting ground forces at Saint-Lô, 24-25 Jul, and by striking V-weapon sites, gun emplacements, and supply lines throughout the summer of 1944.

The group converted to B-17's in September 1944 and engaged primarily in bombardment of strategic objectives from October 1944 to February 1945. Targets included marshalling yards in Ludwigshafen, Hamm, Osnabrück, and Darmstadt; oil centres in Bielefeld, Merseburg, Hamburg, and Misburg; factories in Berlin, Dalteln, and Hanover; and airfields in Münster, Neumünster, and Frankfurt. During this period the group also supported ground forces during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945. In March 1945, with few industrial targets remaining and with Allied armies advancing across Germany, the 34th turned almost solely to interdicting enemy communications and supporting Allied ground forces.

After V-E Day it carried food to flooded areas of Holland and transported prisoners of war from German camps to Allied centres. The 34th Bomb Group returned to Sioux Falls AAF South Dakota on 28 August 1945 and was deactivated.

RAF Maintenance Command use

After the war, the field was used as the sub-site of No. 94 Maintenance Unit being used as an ammunition storage depot. It was reduced to inactive status in June 1954 and sold.

Civil Use

With the end of military control the former technical site of Mendlesham was developed into an industrial estate with the balance of the airfield being returned to agriculture. Several wartime buildings, along with a T-2 hangar are in use. Only the faintest hint of a perimeter track remains visible. A small, but impressive memorial, subscribed to by the men of the 34th Group before their departure, is still maintained on the old airfield next to the A140 road.

Some aerospace-related use still remains though: one portion of runway, although now covered with grass, is now in use by local microlight pilots and by Suffolk Coastal Floaters hang-gliding club.

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0900913096
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1991) The Mighty Eighth: The Colour Record. Cassell & Co. ISBN 0-304-35708-1
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Mendlesham Airfield at mighty8thaf.preller.us
  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present

External links


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