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Royal Air Force Station Ridgewell
USAAF Station 167

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

Located Near Halstead, Essex, England
Ridgewell-1945.jpg
Aerial Photo of Ridgewell Airfield - 1945
Type Military Airfield
Coordinates 52°02′40.75″N 000°33′33.67″E / 52.0446528°N 0.5593528°E / 52.0446528; 0.5593528
Location code RD
Built 1942
In use 1942-1957
Controlled by Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Garrison RAF Bomber Command
Eighth Air Force
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
RAF Ridgewell is located in Essex
Map showing the location of RAF Ridgewell within Essex.

RAF Ridgewell is a former World War II airfield in England. The field is located 7½ miles NW of Halstead in Essex. During the war, the airfield was used by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force. It was assigned USAAF designation Station 167, station code "RD".

Contents

Overview

Ridgewell airfield was an early example of stations completed to Class A heavy bomber airfield design for the RAF, and had three intersecting runways of 6,500 ft each in length, thirty-six hardstands, two T-2 hangars and accommodation for 2,900 men in temporary buildings.

RAF Bomber Command use

The airfield was opened in December 1942 and was first used by the RAF Bomber Command 90 squadron with Short Stirling Bombers until May 1943, the station being at the time a satellite of RAF Stradishall.

USAAF use

Ridgewell was the only long-term heavy bomber base of the Eighth Air Force in Essex. For USAAF use, the number of hardstands was increased to the fifty required by a US bomb group. The station was part of the 1st Combat Wing establishment of the 1st Division and was the furthest east of its thirteen heavy bomber stations.

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381st Bombardment Group

From 30 June 1943 the airfield was used by the USAAF 381st Bombardment Group (Heavy), arriving from Pueblo AAB, Colorado. Its tail code was Triangle-L.. The 381st Bomb Group consisted of the following operational squadrons and fuselage codes:

  • 532d Bomb Squadron (VE)
  • 533th Bomb Squadron (VP)
  • 534th Bomb Squadron (GD)
  • 535th Bomb Squadron (MS)

After V-E Day, the 381st Bomb Group returned to Sioux Falls AAF, South Dakota in July 1945 and was deactivated on 28 August.

B-17s of the 381st Bomb Group, Ridgewell Airfield England, en route to targets over Nazi-occupied territory. The aircraft in the foreground is Boeing B-17G-70-BO Fortress, Serial 42-31443 "Friday the 13th" of the 532d Bomb Squadron. This aircraft was lost on 22 February 1944 on a mission to Bunde, Germany.
Boeing B-17G-55-BO Fortress Serial 42-102664 "Happy Bottom" of the 532d Bomb Squadron being christened by Edward G. Robinson, 5 July 1944. Unfortunately this aircraft ditched in the English Channel on 16 July 1944
Boeing B-17G-70-BO Fortress 43-37675, of the 532d Bomb Squadron en route to targets over Nazi-occupied territory. Named "Patches", "Flak Magnet" and "Trudie's Terror" by various aircrews, This aircraft survived the war and was retired to Kingman AAF Arizona on 17 December 1945.

Air Ministry Use

After the war, Ridgewell was used for bomb storage from 15 July 1945 to 31 March 1957. It was then disposed of and sold. The United States Air Force retained the old aircraft hangars which were used by units from nearby RAF Wethersfield and RAF Alconbury for storage until both bases were closed in the early 1990s.

Civil Use

With the end of military control, the majority of the base was returned to agriculture, with the buildings and control tower being torn down. The concrete runways and hardstands were removed for hardcore, although much of the perimeter track was reused for country roads, albeit at a reduced width.

Recently part of the airfield has been purchased by the Essex gliding club and is their home base for gliding throughout the summer months.

Memorials

There are two memorials to the men of Ridgewell. One is to the men of RAF 90 Squadron, and a second is dedicated to the USAAF 381st Bombardment Group. Both are located on the site of the base hospital[1], where a small museum is also located.[2].

See also

References

External links

Coordinates: 52°03′05″N 000°33′55″E / 52.05139°N 0.56528°E / 52.05139; 0.56528


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