|Royal Air Force Station Wormingford
USAAF Station 159
|Located Near Colchester, Essex, England|
Wormingford Airfield - 10 May 1946
|Controlled by||United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
|Garrison||Eighth Air Force|
|Occupants||362d Fighter Group
55th Fighter Group
|Battles/wars||European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
During World War I Wormingford was a landing ground designated for use by aircraft operating against Zeppelins. Reopened as a military airfield in 1942, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Force. During the war it was used primarily as a fighter airfield. After the war, it was returned to agriculture
Today a small section of the old runway is used by the Essex and Suffolk Gliding club.
Wormingford was originally earmarked for an Eighth Heavy Bomb Group, being built by Richard Costain Ltd. and helped by a number of sub contractors during the period 1942/1943. The airfield had a 2,000-yard main runway on an E-W axis and two intersecting runways of 1,400 yards each along with the USAAF standard fifty hardstands, two T2 hangars, one each side of the airfield, Mark 11 lighting and temporary building accommodation for 2,900 personnel. The technical area was on the southern side of the airfield and the camp sites dispersed to the south and east in and around the village of Fordham.
However Wormingford was surplus to Eighth Air Force requirements as a heavy bomber base and it was used instead as a fighter base.
The airfield was assigned USAAF designation Station 159.
The group consisted of the following squadrons:
The 362d FG flew its first mission, escorting B-24s that attacked V-weapon launching sites near the Pas de Calais on 8 February 1944. Until April 1944 the group engaged chiefly in escorting B-17/B-24 bombers that struck factories, railways, airfields, and other targets on the Continent. The group repeatedly attacked communications in northern France and in Belgium during Apr and May, in preparation for the invasion of Normandy.
The 55th Fighter Group moved to Wormingford on 16 April 1944 to accommodate the arrival of a B-17 Heavy bomb group at RAF Nuthampstead. The 55th was under the command of the 67th Fighter Wing of the VIII Fighter Command. Aircraft of the 55th were identified by a green/yellow chequerboard pattern around their cowling.
The group consisted of the following squadrons:
Originally flying P-38s, then converting to P-51s in July the group attacked gun emplacements during the Saint-Lô breakthrough in July 1944, and transportation facilities during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945. The group also patrolled the air over the English Channel and bombed bridges in the Tours area during the invasion of the Continent in June 1944. The unit patrolled the Arnhem sector to support the airborne invasion of Holland in September 1944 along with strafing trucks, locomotives, and oil depots near Wesel when the Allies crossed the Rhine in March 1945.
The unit received a Distinguished Unit Citation for eight missions to Germany between 3 and 13 September 1944 when the group not only destroyed enemy fighters in the air to protect the bombers it was escorting, but also descended to low levels, in spite of intense anti-aircraft fire, to strafe airfields and to destroy enemy aircraft on the ground. Received second DUC for operations on 19 February 1945 when the organization flew a sweep over Germany to hit railway tracks, locomotives, oil cars, goods wagons, troop cars, buildings, and military vehicles. The 55th Flew last combat mission on 21 April 1945.
The 55th Fighter Group moved to Kaufbeuren Germany on 22 July 1945 as part of the occupation forces. It was assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. While on occupation duty, the group trained with P-51 and P-80 aircraft. Inactivated in Germany on 20 August 1946.
The 55th Reconnaissance Group (Very Long Range, Mapping). was activated in 1948 and assigned to Strategic Air Command. Aircraft included RB-17's and B-29's and RB-29's. The USAF 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was activated in 1950, and was bestowed the lineage, honors and history of the World War II USAAF 55th Fighter Group in 1952.
In September 1944, the 3d Scouting Force was activated at Wormingford. The unit flew a combination of P-47s, P-51s and B-17s on classified missions. The unit was inactivated during June 1945.
After V-E Day Wormingford was turned over to the RAF Technical Training Command and later to Transport Command. Later it was transferred to other government departments until being sold off during 1960/62.
With the end of military control Wormingford was largely returned to agriculture and much of the concrete broken up for aggregate. A small section of the old runway was retained and is now used by the Essex and Suffolk Gliding club.