Monument record KNE 031 - Knettishall Airfield

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Summary

Former 2nd WW airfield. Three runways, perimeter taxiway (part surviving), hard standings and various buildings (mostly gone except large hanger at TL 95947933) shown on AP of circa 1946. Details in (S1)(S2).

Location

Grid reference Centred TL 96722 78765 (2410m by 3274m) (6 map features)
Map sheet TL97NE
Civil Parish BARNINGHAM, ST EDMUNDSBURY, SUFFOLK
Civil Parish CONEY WESTON, ST EDMUNDSBURY, SUFFOLK
Civil Parish HOPTON, ST EDMUNDSBURY, SUFFOLK
Civil Parish KNETTISHALL, ST EDMUNDSBURY, SUFFOLK

Map

Type and Period (5)

Full Description

Former 2nd WW airfield. Three runways, perimeter taxiway (part surviving), hard standings and various buildings (mostly gone except large hanger at TL 95947933) shown on AP of circa 1946. Details in (S1)(S2).
Built by W & G French in 1942/3. Became home of 388th bomb group. Many huts and living quarters in Coney Weston village. In June 1944 the first V1 rockets were launched against England and the USAAF decided to activate their own guided weapon program, codenamed 'Aphrodite'. This consisted of a B17 fitted with radio receiving equipment and 10 tons of explosives. Two piolets would fly the aircraft until radio contact was established with the control aircraft and then bail out, the robot aircraft was then guided onto target from a control aircraft. However, as Knettishall was designated as an emergency landing ground and there was the possibility of a collision between the Aphrodite aircraft and an emergency landing the project was moved to an unused airfield at Fersfield in Norfolk.(S1).
Bomb store was in a wood near Knettishall on far side of airfield. Declared surplus in 1960s by RAF. By late 1960s most of the runways and buildings had been demolished. Nissen huts remained on the northernmost boundary in the 1970s (S2).
Area of airfield and 5 separate areas of living quarters (?) as shown on 1946 AP defined on HER map. Others may have existed but not clearly defined so not marked.
A former World War Two military airfield, opened in 1943 and closed 1957. It was built on a plateau of higher land on the Edge of Knettishall Heath. The airfield was constructed as a "Class A" bomber airfield" with long concrete runways three concrete runways and two aircraft hangars (Type T2). The hangar to the western side was extant in 2000. The main technical area was on the south side of the airfield; there was a bomb store to the north-east side. The airfield buildings were of temporary brick construction. Some were still standing as ruins in 2000. In the briefing room were murals featuring military wall art: these were already said to be in poor condition in 1977. During the war the base was used by the United States Army 8th Air Force 388th Bomber Group as Station 136. They were involved in providing strategic cover for the D-Day landings, the airborne attack at Arnhem and in the large scale raid on Schweinfurt (where ball bearings were produced for the German military) (S3).

2009: In situ underground bunker, single room reported near the site TL97837919. Possibly associated with the airfield. Unknown use.

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <S1> Bibliographic reference: Smith, G.. 1995. Suffolk Airfields in the 2nd World War.
  • <S2> Bibliographic reference: Freeman, Roger A. 1978. Airfields of the Eighth - Then and Now.
  • <S3> Index: English Heritage. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1401198.
  • <S4> Index: 1987. Military airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

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Record last edited

Feb 16 2022 2:54PM

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