RAF Oulton

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



The Oulton airfield opened in 1940, originally as a satellite field to Horsham St Faith (now Norwich International Airport). It hosted a variety of light bomber squadrons flying mainly Blenheims.

By September 1942 the airfield had become a satellite to RAF Swanton Morley with the 88th squadron being based there. This unit participated in low-level daylight raids and was also engaged with dropping propaganda leaflets over Germany.

The all-grass field was upgraded to be able to accept heavy bombers and after the runways had been lengthened and concreted, the airfield was transferred to the 100 Group and became a satellite to RAF Foulsham in September 1943. After completion of the work both RAF and USAAF specialist radio-countermeasures units arrived, one of their tasks being to investigate the radio-control equipment behind the V-2 rocket.

The 100 Group was also tasked with countering the force of radar-equipped Luftwaffe night fighters and their Mosquito fighter aircraft also patrolled around the known Luftwaffe fighter airfields, ready to attack any landing night fighters they came across, whereas the Group's bomber squadrons used various specialist electronic jamming devices to disrupt enemy radio communications and radar. Much of the equipment they used was developed at the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE).

After the war, the airfield was put under Care and Maintenance and used for storing Mosquito fighter aircraft and Horsa gliders until its closure in 1947. Ever since, there has been a persistent rumour according to which a number of Mosquito aircraft were buried in a huge pit in a field on or near the former airfield. The location of said pit, if it ever existed, has however never been found.

A large portion of the runways was removed in 1979 and used as hardcore for the Aylsham bypass. The surviving sections of the runways and some of the dispersals are currently occupied by poultry houses or farm sheds. The two control towers of the airfield have long since been demolished as was the Canteen, situated near Green Farm, which for some time served as the village hall. Only an empty space beside the road remains. The land was returned to agriculture. A memorial, situated at the crossroads to the north of the village. A special display and a memorial plaque commemorating the RAF 100 Group, currently housed in the east wing of nearby Blickling Hall, where the Officers mess used to be and where the officers and NCOs were accommodated, commemorate the personnel based here and tell the airfield's history.


TG1527 : RAF memorial in Oulton Street by Evelyn Simak TG1728 : RAF 100 Group memorial plaque - RAF Oulton Museum by Evelyn Simak


Parts of the runways and dispersals are currently occupied by poultry houses or by large farm sheds and the perimeter track and service roads are used by farmers to get to their fields. The looped track leading to one of the two bomb stores, where ammunition and incendiaries used to be stored, also still exists but nothing remains on the site proper, which was located off Church Lane, to the west of Green Farm. A second bomb store was in a field to the south of Church Lane, about one kilometre further to the north-west.


TG1526 : Straw to provide bedding during the winter by Evelyn Simak TG1426 : Concrete track to aircraft dispersals by Evelyn Simak TG1426 : Poultry houses on former RAF runway by Evelyn Simak TG1526 : Concrete farm track by Evelyn Simak TG1427 : Concrete tracks at RAF Oulton by Evelyn Simak


Several buildings have survived on the former Technical site, such as the Squadron office, the W/T Bowser store and the Crew locker and drying room, all disused and derelict in fields located between the National Trust's Textile Conservation Studio at Malthouse Barn and Street Farm, a short distance further to the south.


TG1527 : Ex-RAF building on the former Technical site by Evelyn Simak TG1527 : Ex-RAF building on the former Technical site by Evelyn Simak TG1527 : Derelict building on the former Technical site by Evelyn Simak TG1527 : Derelict building on the former Technical site by Evelyn Simak


On a hardstanding which formed part of the Technical site and is currently occupied by Street Farm a couple of General purpose huts have survived until recently, and the building housing the Flight office is still standing. One of the original T2 hangars forms part of several large sheds on a hardstanding near Docking Farm.


TG1527 : Large Nissen hut at Street Farm by Evelyn Simak TG1526 : Cattle sheds belonging to Docking Farm by Evelyn Simak TG1527 : WW2 Flight office building by Evelyn Simak


The large Gymnasium/cinema building on one of the Mess and Communal sites is still standing, currently used for storage by the farmer who now owns this land. The building is situated in a field to the north of The Leaselands.


TG1527 : Ex-RAF building on the Communal site by Evelyn Simak TG1527 : Disused RAF-building in field by Evelyn Simak


An overgrown pump house which would seem to have been associated with the airfield stands beside the road on the southern edge of Oulton Belt. Site 2 adjoined it in the west and across the road from here, a short distance further to the south-west was Site 3. Both these sites were used for accommodation. Sites 2, 4 and 5 (the Sergeants' mess and quarters), were grouped around Blickling Hall, with Site 5 immediately adjoining the hall in the west and the WAAF camp (Site 1) situated a short distance further to the west. The NAAFI building was situated in the pasture opposite St Andrew's church.


TG1627 : Perfect camouflage by Evelyn Simak TG1627 : Pumphouse interior by Evelyn Simak TG1627 : Pumphouse interior by Evelyn Simak TG1627 : Pumphouse interior by Evelyn Simak


The Sick quarters were located off New Road, adjoining Green Farm, where the first airmen to arrive were housed in the farm's cattle sheds. For some time after the war the Canteen building used to serve as the village hall but it has since been removed.

The airfield was protected on its northern edge by two rare, probably unique pillboxes. A blast wall protects their entrance and the walls of one of the structures is almost one metre thick. There are two straight interior walls, effectively subdividing the pillbox into three small rooms, with a brick-built gun table and a large loophole facing away from the airfield in the middle 'room'. The loophole above it is larger than the others and faces away from the airfield, covering the surrounding fields where enemy parachutists or gliders might have landed. In all probability the pillboxes were manned by an Army unit. Another unique defence installation is still in place on the edge of Hethel aerodrome and there used to be a unique observation post high up on a tree guarding Tibenham airfield, also still in place.


TG1527 : Pillbox on field's edge by Evelyn Simak TG1427 : Rare pillbox - blast wall by Evelyn Simak TG1527 : Rare pillbox - interior by Evelyn Simak TG1527 : Rare pillbox - interior by Evelyn Simak TG1427 : Rare pillbox - interior by Evelyn Simak


Nearby, two concrete sockets can be seen set into a short segment of an old concrete track beside Church Lane.


TG1527 : View along Church Lane by Evelyn Simak TG1527 : Concrete socket beside Church Lane by Evelyn Simak


In 2011, the RAF Oulton Museum was relocated from the Harness room, a tiny building adjoining Blickling Hall, to a more spacious attic room in the west wing where the officers and NCOs billeted here used to be accommodated. The museum incorporates a re-created 'crew room', ie a room designed to lower stress and improve morale, where crews would prepare themselves before each flight and where they would gather again after their return. The room was also used as an informal office where the men could write letters or do other paperwork.

TG1728 : RAF Oulton Museum by Evelyn Simak TG1728 : RAF Oulton Museum by Evelyn Simak TG1728 : RAF Oulton Museum by Evelyn Simak TG1728 : RAF Oulton Museum by Evelyn Simak





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