Monument record SUT 197 - RAF Woodbridge; Woodbridge Airfield; RAF Sutton Heath

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Summary

Second World War Airfield, visible on aerial photographs.

Location

Grid reference Centred TM 3331 4852 (4349m by 2212m)
Map sheet TM34NW
Civil Parish CAPEL ST MARY, BABERGH, SUFFOLK
Civil Parish BROMESWELL, SUFFOLK COASTAL, SUFFOLK
Civil Parish EYKE, SUFFOLK COASTAL, SUFFOLK
Civil Parish HOLLESLEY, SUFFOLK COASTAL, SUFFOLK
Civil Parish SUTTON, SUFFOLK COASTAL, SUFFOLK

Map

Type and Period (11)

Full Description

Second World War Airfield. RAF Woodbridge opened November 1943 and used as an emergency landing ground for bomber command aircraft. It is three miles east fo Woodbridge - known by all aircraft as the 'Prang or Crash-drome' or just plain 'Oz' (pundit code). FIDO (fog dispersal system) was used there from May 1944 till March 1945. For a brief history of the airfield see SUT 199 (section by Roger Freeman in report S3).
Situated - 'like a large slab of concrete carved through a pine forest'. Its main features were one huge runway measuring 3,000 yeards long, 250 metres wide (5 x the normal runway length + two grassed areas at either end of the runway, 500 yards long for overshoot). It is situated in exposed landscape of Sutton Heath, four miles SE of town (often referred to as RAF Sutton Heath), it is surrounded by a large forestry plantation. The runway was completed in November 1943. In 1952 the USAF took it over and developed it into a major fighter base (S1)(S2).
For USAF & RAF air photos of 1943, 1944 & 1945 see AP files.
A Second World War and post-war military airfield. RAF Woodbridge was established in 1943 during the Second World War. In that conflict it served as an emergency runway for Bomber Command. At that period it was a 3000 yard runway, equipped with Type B1 and Blister design aircraft hangars and temporary accomodation for personnel. Wartime construction methods typically involved the use of "temporary" materials for many building types. In the early 1950s it became an American Fighter-Bomber base and remained in American hands until the early 1990s. The American forces added a number of military buildings and structures, including hardened aircraft shelters and airfield defence sites. The base appears unaltered from its appearance when the Americans departed in the early 1990s (S4).

June 2015. Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme.
The Second World War Airfield described above is visible on aerial photographs (S5)–(S12) and has been mapped principally from those taken in 1943 and 1945. The large runway has been mapped along with the two grass areas at either end, provided should damaged planes over-shoot the runway. The principal structures, including at least two ‘blister huts’ a large hangar and several nissen huts have been mapped also, along with air raid shelters where visible, which varied in form from earthwork banks with concrete entrances to reinforced concrete bunkers. Several areas of accommodation huts have been mapped as extents of area, although these also contained several air raid shelters also. The sewage works is centred on TM 3469 4953. Two areas of excavated hollows which may represent possible firing ranges have been mapped as extents of area also, centred on TM 3159 4822 and TM 3258 4831 (S11). A possible spent ammunition or weapons dump is also visible centred on TM 3331 4806 (S7). The later additions to the airfield have not been mapped, although it is clearly visible with considerable changes on later photographs (S13)–(S15) see NMR TM 34 SW 19.
E. Ford (Norfolk Historic Environment Service), 17th June 2015.

Sources/Archives (15)

  • <S1> Bibliographic reference: Miscellaneous Bibliographic reference. Airfields & Airstrips of Norfolk & Suffolk by a Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Mus Pub, 1977/1979/1993.
  • <S2> Bibliographic reference: Miscellaneous Bibliographic reference. Smith Graham, Suffolk Airfields in the 2nd World War, 1995.
  • <S3> Unpublished document: Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service evaluation report. Gardner R & Summers M, SCCAS report 2004/82, June 2004.
  • <S4> Index: English Heritage. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1317883.
  • <S5> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. US/7PH/GP/LOC132 V 5031-5032 30-DEC-1943 (EHA Laser Copy).
  • <S6> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. RAF/106G/UK/759 FS 2047-2048 02-SEP-1945 (EHA Original Print).
  • <S7> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. RAF/106G/UK/759 FS 2067-2069 02-SEP-1945 (EHA Original Print).
  • <S8> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. RAF/106G/UK/759 FS 2095-7 02-SEP-1945 (EHA Original Print).
  • <S9> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. RAF/106G/UK/832 RP 3096-3097 23-SEP-1945 (EHA Original Print).
  • <S10> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. RAF/106G/UK/832 RP 3114-3115 23-SEP-1945 (EHA Original Print).
  • <S11> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. RAF/106G/UK/832 RS 4061-4062 23-SEP-1945 (EHA Original Print).
  • <S12> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. RAF/58/1672 F22 0423-0424 03-MAR-1955 (EHA Original Print).
  • <S13> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. RAF/58/1672 F22 0421-0422 03-MAR-1955 (EHA Original Print).
  • <S14> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. RAF/543/715 F21 0016-0017 28-SEP-1959 (EHA Original Print).
  • <S15> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. OS/96042A V 177-178 15-APR-1996 (EHA Original Print).

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

May 6 2016 1:57PM

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