Thursday, April 19, 2012

East Wretham Class A Standard Airfield

An area of Breckland heath six miles NE of Thetford, SW of East Wretham village, came into use as a satellite for Honington in 1940. As with most hurriedly acquired sites for RAF satellite aerodromes, East Wretham started out with requisitioned properties and a few hastily-erected huts and even tents. Eventually, two grass runways were developed, NE-SW measuring 1,880 yards and NNE-SSE at 1,400 yards. Over the next two years, 24 Macadam hardstandings with long access tracks were put down, and a technical site erected on the west side, with two Bellman and six Blister hangars at various points round the perimeter. The dispersed camp sites were NW and NE of the airfield and consisted of eight domestic, a communal and sick quarters. Wretham Hall was requisitioned and used as an officers mess.

Officially transferred to the US Eighth Air Force in September 1943, the 359th Fighter Group and its three squadrons arrived in October and went into action in December flying P-47 Thunderbolts. The group converted to Mustangs the following spring and remained in occupation until late autumn of 1945. East Wretham was officially returned to the RAF on November 1, 1945.

368th Fighter Squadron dispersal area, East Wretham Airfield. Courtesy of Alfred M. Swiren: Archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.

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