Back Western Longville, Norfolk

The memorial to the American 466 Bomb Group is situated close to one of the former airfield runways and there is a roll of honour in the nearby church. The closest village is Western Longville and the church tower was a familiar marker for crews navigating their way back from a mission; the airfield was named after the nearest railway station, rather than the village. Close to the memorial are two large concrete cubes that formed part of a roadblock; a reminder that airfields often had a disruptive effect on their local landscapes.

Work on Attlebridge airfield was started in 1940 when it was intended for use by light bombers from the RAF. In 1941 the airfield became operational, with RAF Blenheim bombers being used in anti-shipping operations in the North Sea. In 1942 Boston bombers replaced the Blenheims and these aircraft took part in several low-level attacks on occupied Europe. Later that year, the airfield was substantially upgraded in order to prepare for the arrival of American airmen, which involved the creation of three concrete runways in the classic ‘A’ shape, a perimeter track and concrete hardstandings for aircraft.

While the upgrading was taking place, various Allied squadrons used Attlebridge, including for a time 302 Squadron, which comprised Dutch airmen flying Mitchell bombers, with its first raid in August 1942 on the railway system at Calais. The development of the airfield continued into late 1943 as it was brought into a state where it could receive American heavy bombers. The airfield dramatically expanded in size, which resulted in road closures and additional farmland being requisitioned.

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