The Wartime Memories Project- RAF Bradwell Bay

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RAF Bradwell Bay was first used as a grass airfield in 1936 as a re-fuelling and re-arming base by fighter aircraft using the air to ground firing ranges at Denghie Flats.

Development work began on the site in March 1941. Three hardcore and asphalt runways with a perimeter track, and about 30 dispersal points sharing twelve Blister hangers. Several buildings, a Bellman type steel hangar and many Nissen hut sites were constructed to house nearly 2000 personnel. Bradwell Bay was the only fighter airfield that was fitted with FIDO, a fog dispersal system to clear fog away from the runway by burning thousands of gallons of petrol to lift the local air temperature. This work was completed in April 1942 the station was handed over to No.11 Group of Fighter Command.

On the 17th April 1942 the first squadron arrived. This was a Canadian manned squadron (No.418 City of Edmonton, Intruder Squadron) flying twin-engine Boston aircraft that were painted all over in matt black. In August 1942 they were joined by the British 23 Squadron flying Mosquitoes.

The airfield was constantly being used by aircraft in distress or short of fuel, due to its position near the English Channel. Regular emergency visitors were bombers such as Lancasters and Halifaxes, particularly before the special emergency landing runway was brought into use at Woodbridge.

In August 1944 three squadrons of Spitfires, formed the Bradwell Fighter Wing. Which was soon operational, providing escorts for Lancaster bombers engaged in missions in support of allied invasion forces on the Continent. The wing also played a part in escorting the Airborne Forces paratroop operations to Arnhem in September.

In late February 1945 the Spitfire Wing departed, being replaced by two Mosquito day fighter squadrons. Bradwell bay was also home to No.278 Squadron, from April 1944 to February 1945 flying Walrus, Anson, Warwick and Spitfires. Their Air Sea Rescue services were much in demand over the channel.

The airmen`s local pub was The Cricketers Arms. Pilots from the base left their autographs on the ceiling of the bar, but these regretably were painted over when the pub was modernized.

RAF Bradwell Bay closed on the 1st of December 1945. The site was used for the development of one of Britain's first nuclear power stations.

Today the control tower and several of the buildings survive. The line of the main runway is marked by a row of connifers On one corner of the airfield is a memorial to the crews lost or missing.

My late father Squadron Leader AHE King was mentioned in despatches on 1.1.1942 and on 8.6.1944 he was posted to Bradwell Bay on 3.3.1944, I am told as Admin "G" Squadron Leader He was also a veteran of the Royal Flying Corps and was shot down in WW1 on the Somme. Are there any memories of him?
William King


Monument at Bradwell Bay

memorial to the crews lost or missing.

If you have any Photographs you would like to share please get in touch.

List of those who served here.

  • F/O Hilbrand Gerrit Holtrop. dutch 219 F Sqd (d. 10/06/1944 )
  • Squadron Leader A H E King.

If you have any names to add to this list, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.

If you have a story which you would like to share, or a website dedicated to an airfield or aircrew, please get in touch.

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