Monument record EWL 026 - RAF Great Ashfield, Airfield

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20th century airfield.


Grid reference Centred TM 0113 6562 (2612m by 2889m) (2 map features)
Map sheet TM06NW


Type and Period (6)

Full Description

In the First World War this airfield was the base of 51 and 75 squadron and used by the Royal Flying Core. Rebuilt before use as the base for the 38th bombardment group of the USAAF (United States Army Air Force) between 1942-5.
The earliest known date for this site is 1916, sold 1956 (?)
Present condition: main runway still in use as a private landing strip. Other elements less well known although current use appears to include industrial or farming units. One aircraft hangar destroyed by bombing in 1944. For details of site during construction see RAF aerial photograph.
Standard class A airfield technical site, Built by John Laing & Son Ltd in 1942.
200ft above sea level, 10 miles East of Bury St Edmunds and 5 miles North of the A45 at Elmswell. Built 1942 by John Laing & Son Ltd, Standard class A airfield technical site was on the South side of the perimeter track, and temporary buildings of the camp also dispersed to the south.
The USAF left great Ashfield in July/August 1945. In October 1945 the field was under RAF control, and under maintenance command became an MV site and subsite for bomb storage before being abandoned and sold in 1959-60 it was returned to agricultural use in 1978 the runways were intact. (S3)
25 years earlier the royal flying corps had used the site for BE2C's - "BE" ( Blerict Experimental testing) (S2).
For survey of gymnasium with chapel and Squash rackets court see (S4).
A former World War Two and post-war period military airfield, opened 1943 and closed in 1960. The airfield was built by John Laing and Son Limited for use by Royal Air Force bomber units but was actually passed to the United States Army Eighth Air Force (as station 155). It was constructed to "Class A" standard, in other words with three hard landing surfaces and two type T2 aircraft hangars. The technical site ws situated to the south of the flying field, and dispersed camps for personnel and administration were also located to the south. A bomb store and firing butts were situated to the east of the flying field. During World War two the base was mainly used by the 385th Bomber Group for raids on Germany. After the war it was used by a Royal Air Force Maintenance Unit for bomb storage. Although the site has largely since returned to agriculture, and most of the buildings were demolished by the late 1970s, in 2000 it was reported that some parts of the runways remained. Some defensive features of the wartime airfield were also said to be extant in the 1990s, (please see TM 06 NW 21 and TM 06 NW 22 for details) (S5).

2017: A small magnetometry survey was carried out by SAFG at the site of a WW1 airfield at Elmswell. The site of a hangar was identified and later confirmed by excavation carried out by the Elmswell History Group (S6).

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <S1> Monograph: Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum. 1993. Airfields and Airstrips of Norfolk and Suffolk, 3rd ed.
  • <S2> Bibliographic reference: Smith, G.. 1995. Suffolk Airfields in the 2nd World War.
  • <S3> Bibliographic reference: Freeman, Roger A. 1978. Airfields of the Eighth - Then and Now.
  • <S4> Serial: Suffolk Industrial Archaeological Society Newsletter. Volume 115, November 2011.
  • <S5> Index: English Heritage. Pastscape.
  • <S6> Article in serial: Minter, F. and Saunders, A.. 2018. Archaeology in Suffolk 2017, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Jul 8 2022 11:08PM

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