RAF North Creake

Text © Copyright Evelyn Simak, August 2014
Images are under a separate Creative Commons Licence.


Like many other airfields, RAF North Creake was geographically misnamed: the village of North Creake is situated about four kilometres further to the west and the runways were actually constructed on the sites of two deserted medieval villages known as Quarles and Egmere. Egmere's ruined church still stands in the fields on the southern edge of the airfield. Locals have hence always referred to it as the Egmere 'drome' (short for aerodrome).


TF8937 : Ruin of  St Edmund's church by Evelyn Simak


A small part of the site was originally used as a decoy, a dummy airfield for RAF Docking > LinkExternal link. It was a Q site and had the number 149a, sharing its task with another Q site (149b) located at the nearby village of Burnham Sutton. Site 149a was situated on the north-western edge of the flying field near Blunt's Corner. It was abandoned presumably because of the construction of a real airfield: Q sites > LinkExternal link were night decoys and kept well away from their (real) parent airfields in order to prevent exposure should an intruder drop a flare over the dummy before attacking. Site 149b was transferred to Bircham Newton and was then referred to as Site 24d.

The construction of the concrete runways began in October 1942, with the main runway being 2,000 metres long. It was completed in November 1943, but plans were then made to extend the runways. This however never happened and the airfield was eventually re-opened again in April 1944. There were 36 loop-type (spectacle) aircraft dispersal points, two T2 and one B1 hangars. The dispersed campsites provided accommodation for 2,951 male and 411 female personnel.

North Creake/Egmere was one of several airfields assigned to 100 Group RAF Bomber Command. This secret Group was tasked with developing what nowadays would be described as electronic warfare, undertaking the jamming of German radar installations during bombing raids flown by other groups. The success of Bomber Command's night operations depended to a great extent on the efforts of 100 Group.

The two bomber squadrons stationed at RAF North Creake, Nos. 199 and 171, were involved in carrying out Window and Mandrel (an airborne jamming device used to block German radar interception) operations against the enemy's radar tracking of Bomber Command raids. Mandrel-equipped aircraft carried up to eight special radio transmitters and eight additional sword aerials of different lengths were fitted below the fuselage. There was also an additional crew member, the Special Wireless Operator, on board for operating this special equipment.

'Window' was the code name for small metallised strips similar to tin foil, 30 centimetres long and 1.5 centimetres wide, which were dropped in bundles from the aircraft, with the result that the drifting cloud of metallic strips created confusing signals on German radar screens and hence helped to conceal the position of the bombers. The first such operation was carried out in late June 1943 on the occasion of a raid on Hamburg in north Germany, when the entire German radar system was disrupted and searchlight operators were unable to find their targets. The 700 to 800 RAF aircraft dropping Window had created the impression of there being about 11,000 bomber aircraft waiting to attack. No. 199 squadron's C-Flight, later used to re-form No. 171 squadron, also participated in radio countermeasure activities.

The squadrons flew Stirling and Halifax bombers, seventeen of which were lost during missions on the Continent. There is to date no memorial commemorating the men and women stationed at RAF North Creake.

After the war the airfield was closed to flying and until 1947 it was used for storing Mosquito aircraft which were surplus to requirements. The main runway which ran from north-east to south-west was almost entirely removed after the war. In the middle of the airfield, on either side of the course of the old road linking Little Walsingham and Burnham Thorpe, a fragment remains between two shelter-belts of trees. The surrounding land has long since returned to agriculture.

The dispersed campsites were located in the fields to the east of the flying field, with Sites 1 and 4 strung out along the south side of Wells Road, which was closed to civilian traffic. Today no trace remains of these sites, the locations of which have long since reverted to agriculture and are now crop fields. The Administrative/HQ site was situated to the south of a concreted road off Fakenham Road (B1105). Continuing in an easterly direction it lead to the Communal site and messes and to the two WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force) campsites further to the north and east. Sites 3 and 6, both Accommodation sites, and the station's Sick Quarters were located on the south side of Walsingham Road which was also closed.

The Sick quarters had its own WAAF cook and the medical staff were accommodated on site. There were twelve beds for RAF personnel and a separate section contained six beds for WAAF personnel.

Whereas only a handful of structures have survived on the dispersed Accommodation and Communal sites, a significant number of buildings can still be found on the former Technical site which was located east of the flying field, on the west side of the Fakenham Road (now the B1105) in an area known as Bunker's Hill. This road remained open to the public and for some time aircraft had to be towed across to the maintenance area located on the other side of the road. Farm and estate workers are documented to have been issued with a pass permitting access to certain areas which were closed to the general public. The area where the Technical site once stood is now occupied by industrial companies and known as the North Creake Airfield Business Park. It is bisected by the B1105 road, linking Fakenham in the south with Wells next the Sea on the coast further to the north.


TF9038 : The B1105 road past Bunker's Hill by Evelyn Simak


A number of the remaining airfield buildings were converted for farm or industrial use and some were turned into temporary private dwellings after the war, when accommodation had to be found quickly for local families who had lost their homes. In more recent times a few of these buildings were renovated so as to meet modern needs. In the process of knocking down a partitioning wall, what appeared to be the wing tip of an aircraft was revealed behind the old plaster. Intrigued, the owners had the plasterboarding removed and in doing so a well-preserved mural depicting an aircraft was revealed. The aircraft was soon identified as being a Short Stirling bomber named "Jolly Roger" (LJ525 EX-R), which is documented to have flown 60 missions from North Creake. It was flown by Flying Officer Broadfield from September 1944 to February 1945.

The mural was painted by been Flight Sergeant Claude "Ted" Allen of No. 199 Squadron, who is known to also have painted a mural depicting LJ531 EX-N (a Short Stirling which disappeared without trace on the night of 16 June 1944), found on an interior wall of the former Flight office and now on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon.


TF9038 : Jolly Roger mural by Evelyn Simak


The most significant building to have survived is the Watch office (Control tower), situated west of the B1105 road near the course of the main runway. The original site plans describe it as a Watch office for all Commands with lower front windows. After the war the building housed offices and later flats, and it was finally converted into a private dwelling many years ago, having undergone various modifications. Only recently the Watch office was restored back to its original design, and since the summer of 2014 it is also a vegetarian B&B establishment, offering two double en-suite rooms, the Signal Room and the Controller's Rest Room. The former Meteorological office is now the living room. On the edge of the adjoining wildflower garden a small brick-built Speech broadcasting building still stands in good condition, and a restored above-ground Stanton air raid shelter is also situated here. The owners' cars are very appropriately parked in a Nissen hut originally used by an RAF Maintenance unit, which was appropriated from a neighbouring industrial company.


TF9038 : The Control Tower B&B by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : North Creake Watch office - newly restored by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : The Control Tower B&B by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Air raid shelter by the Watch office by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : The Speech broadcasting building by Evelyn Simak


Further along the now private road leading up to and past the Watch office there are several more RAF buildings which have since also been converted into private dwellings, such as the Flight office, the Pilots' office and the CO's office.


TF9038 : The former Flight office by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Converted RAF buildings by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Private dwellings on the old Technical site by Evelyn Simak


The Crew lockers & drying rooms and the Motor transport shed have survived on the Blue Storage company's premises adjoining in the south.


TF9038 : The Motor transport shed by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Motor transport sheds by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : The Motor transport shed by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Crew lockers and drying room by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Crew lockers and drying room by Evelyn Simak


In the grounds of ABN Ltd (Pet foods), situated to the north of the Watch office, the airfield's two T2 hangars are still in place. They have since been re-clad and are currently used for storage. Two large Nissen huts, one having been the former Armoury, which stood beside the road were removed in 2012. The concrete hardstandings they stood on can however still be seen.


TF9038 : T2 hangar on the North Creake business park by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : T2 aircraft hangar at the North Creake business park by Evelyn Simak


A group of large Nissen huts occupies the area across the road from here. They housed the Main stores and workshops. The rendered brick Gas clothing and respirator store is nestled between the two former Main workshops. These buildings are currently used by Acare Ltd, a farm machinery business supplying new and used crop spraying equipment, spare parts and accessories. The company has also utilised the Fire party shed, a former guardroom and the Parachute store, easily identified by its characteristic design, which allowed for the drying of parachutes by hanging them from the ceiling using pulleys. The structures were heated by stoves to keep them warm and dry, and they contained a long table where the parachutes could be laid out ready to be packed.


TF9038 : Old RAF buildings beside the B1105 road by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Old RAF workshop by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Old RAF buildings by Evelyn Simak

TF9038 : Old concreted road by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Gas clothing and respirator store by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Old RAF buildings by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : The old Parachute store by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Former RAF guardroom by Evelyn Simak


The airfield's B1 hangar can be seen in a crop field to the east of the B1105 road. It has been re-clad and is currently used for storage. The concrete road leading past the location of the Administrative site and to the former Communal and WAAF sites from there skirts this field in the south.


TF9038 : Hangar in crop field by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : B1 hangar in crop field by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Large hangar in stubble field by Evelyn Simak


The former Communal site was located about 500 metres to the east of the B1105 road. One of the mess halls has survived in agricultural use. In the wood adjoining the mess hall in the south the Standby set house is still standing on the edge of a large concrete hardstanding. It could house up to three diesel generators providing electricity back-up for the campsite. Nearby are two very derelict water towers with the adjoining buildings long since removed, and a short distance further along the old concrete track traversing this wood the concrete platform of a large dining hall can be seen. Only the derelict cinema extension of this building remains in place. Several more overgrown concrete platforms where buildings once used to stand can be seen beside the track, and brick-built blast shelters have also survived here. They are however so overgrown that they are difficult to spot.


TF9038 : Farm track into fields by Evelyn Simak

TF9138 : Old RAF mess hall by Evelyn Simak TF9138 : Old RAF buildings by Evelyn Simak

TF9038 : Old concreted road by Evelyn Simak TF9138 : The old Standby set house by Evelyn Simak TF9138 : Cracked concrete surface by Evelyn Simak TF9138 : Old water tower by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Ruined building in the woods by Evelyn Simak


Four Airmen's accommodation huts can be found in a field in the vicinity. They have long since been converted for farm use and are now quite overgrown. On the edge of the aerodrome a now much overgrown and as yet unidentified wooden building has survived. A single wooden hut still standing on the edge of a field beside Creake Road may have housed the soldiers manning a defence site located adjacent to Egmere Farm. Several types of wooden huts serving a variety of purposes have been recorded on WW2 aerodromes. They were commonly assembled using prefabricated timber-framed sections, with each section being bolted together. The panels were covered on the outside with rebated weather boarding and the interior walls were lined with plasterboard. Standard metal (Crittal) windows were inserted for lighting, the roofs were timber trussed and panelled and covered with either corrugated asbestos, corrugated iron sheeting or timber. The floors were also of timber. Strip lights were hung from steel hooks in the ceiling.


TF9039 : Old RAF buildings by Evelyn Simak TF9039 : View into an old RAF building by Evelyn Simak TF9039 : Old RAF buildings by Evelyn Simak

TF9037 : Overgrown entrance porch by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : View into a WW2 building by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : View into a WW2 building by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : View into a WW2 building by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : View into a WW2 building by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : View into a WW2 building by Evelyn Simak


A Gun Turret trainer and an AML Bombing teacher building can be found in a wood nearby. The Turret trainer building still contains the original steel frames and gantries used for training the gunners manning the aircrafts' gun turrets. A realistic environment was created by using film projection and sound. The Turret trainer is adjoined by an AML Bomb teacher building which has retained the range once used for heating.


TF9038 : The AML Bombing teacher by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : The old range by Evelyn Simak

TF9038 : Old RAF building in the woods by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : View inside the turret trainer by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : The gun turret trainer (interior) by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : The gun turret trainer (interior) by Evelyn Simak


A public footpath traverses the flying field in south-easterly direction, following the course of a minor road turning off at Blunt's Corner which before the construction of the flying field linked the villages of Little Walsingham and Burnham Thorpe, emerging by the junction of the B1105 and Walsingham Road. This road was closed and never reinstated, and a section of it received a concrete surface as it served for transporting bombs from the aerodrome's bomb storage area to the perimeter track and the aircraft dispersals situated alongside it. The last remaining spectacle dispersal can still be seen adjacent to Egmere Farm, on the south side of the former flying field. The footpath used to lead through the ABN factory site on the west side of the B1105 road and crosses two of the three runways and the perimeter track, all now reduced to farm tracks, but has since been slightly re-routed. The remains of light fittings and drain covers can still be found in the sections of runway which are still in place. The area situated within the triangle created by the runways was earmarked for solar PV development and is currently occupied by a solar farm. Adjoining the ABN pet food plant immediately to the west an anaerobic digestion plant has recently also been constructed.


TF8939 : The start of a public footpath by Evelyn Simak TF8939 : WW2 concrete road by Evelyn Simak TF8939 : Tree beside footpath to Blunt's Corner by Evelyn Simak TF8938 : Pheasant feeder beside the footpath by Evelyn Simak

TF8939 : A gap in the shelterbelt by Evelyn Simak TF8938 : The last remaining spectacle dispersal at RAF North Creake by Evelyn Simak TF8939 : Small blue flowers on the edge of the perimeter track by Evelyn Simak TF9039 : Squashed runway light fitting by Evelyn Simak TF9039 : The former SE-NW runway by Evelyn Simak

TF9038 : Footpath on old airfield by Evelyn Simak TF9039 : Glazewing Ltd skip by Evelyn Simak TF9039 : Remains of runway lighting by Evelyn Simak TF9039 : A heap of muck stored on the former runway by Evelyn Simak TF9039 : Crop field on the former flying field of RAF North Creake by Evelyn Simak TF9039 : View along the northern perimeter track of RAF North Creake by Evelyn Simak


An airfield marker stone placed a short distance further south by the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust can be found beside the electricity substation located at the south-eastern corner of the former flying field.


TF9038 : Anaerobic digestion plant at Egmere by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : Anaerobic digestion plant at Egmere by Evelyn Simak TF9038 : View towards the anaerobic digester at Egmere by Evelyn Simak TF8938 : New solar farm at Egmere by Evelyn Simak TF8938 : Solar farm at Egmere by Evelyn Simak TF8938 : Ewe and lamb by Evelyn Simak


Hidden in a small wood south of the perimeter track which today serves as the access road to Egmere Farm and a couple of cottages in the neighbourhood there are a number of small brick structures dating from 1940, when the 57th Heavy Newfoundland Regiment of the Royal Artillery, the first military presence in the area during the war, was moved from Sussex to Norfolk for coastal defence duties. Part of D Battery with two giant 9.2in howitzers of WW1 vintage were set up in positions close to the farm, with the target area covering the sea approaches to Wells and Holkham. Practice firings are reported to have been limited due to the risk of blast damage to any buildings near the gun positions. In December 1942, the regiment entrained for its port of embarkation in Scotland and embarked for North Africa on the same day. A British Army regiment occupied the site for a time after the Newfoundlanders left. The brick buildings are believed to have been used for storing ammunition, presumably for Bofors guns. (Source: History of Newfoundland's Participation in World War II by Allan M Fraser, 2010, and RAF North Creake, Egmere 1940-1947 by Len Bartram & Janine Harrington, 2012). As Egmere farmhouse was occupied by Land Army girls, the soldiers manning the defence site might have been housed in a prefabricated hut which still stands a short distance further to the south on the edge of a crop field beside Creake Road.


TF9037 : WW2 Ammunition lock-up by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : WW2 Ammunition lock-up by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : WW2 Ammunition lock-up by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : WW2 Ammunition lock-up by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : WW2 Ammunition lock-up by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : WW2 Ammunition lock-up by Evelyn Simak


The sewage works were (and still are) situated to the north-west of Wighton Carr, off an unnamed minor road linking Little Walsingham and Wighton.


Three pillboxes can still be found in good condition near the !B1105/Wells Road junction, adjacent to a cluster of houses built in 1875 and known as Egmere Cottages, about 1.5 kilometres south of the business park. The pillboxes and a Spigot Mortar emplacement formed part of a defence site manned by men of the local Home Guard whose brick shelter has also survived.


TF9037 : Pillbox by Egmere Cottages, Egmere by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : Spigot mortar emplacement by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : WW2 Home Guard shelter (interior view) by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : Type FW3/24 pillbox (entrance gate) by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : Type FW3/24 pillbox by Evelyn Simak TF9037 : Type FW3/24 pillbox by Evelyn Simak

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Many of the buildings described above can be seen from the B1105 road as it passes the North Creake Airfield Business Park. Part of the flying field can be explored by walking the public footpath traversing it.

The station's Operations board can be seen in the Bomber Command Room of the Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum in Flixton > LinkExternal link. The board shows details of the last mission flown by Short Shirling bomber aircraft on a Mandrel screen operation on 14/15 March 1945. (NB - These details would seem to have been added by museum staff; an older picture, published in Martin Bowman's book '100 Group - RAF Bomber Command in World War II', does not show them.) The board was re-used as a notice board by British Field Products, a company which after the war occupied some of the old airfield buildings, until Alan C Saunders, one of the employees, noticed some lettering which had been painted over. Many years later, Mr Saunders asked for it as a retirement gift and he then offered it to the museum so it could finally be preserved.


TM3187 : Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum  - exhibit by Evelyn Simak


Information and displays covering all the aerodromes used by 100 Group RAF (Bomber Support), Bomber Command can be found in the 100 Group Stafford Sinclair Memorial Room of the City of Norwich Aviation Museum near Norwich International Airport,


TG2114 : The City of Norwich Aviation Museum (CNAM) by Evelyn Simak TG2114 : The City of Norwich Aviation Museum (CNAM) by Evelyn Simak


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