RAF Seething - USAAF Station 146

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


Built by John Laing & Sons in 1942/43 to the standard Class A requirement for heavy bombers, the airfield was initially known as RAF 258 Seething. After the arrival of the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force 448th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and their various support units in November 1943, it the base was handed over and became USAAF Station 146 Seething in February 1944. The group flew its first mission from Seething on 22 December 1943 and 6 March 1944 took part in the first large-scale attack on Berlin.


The following units were attached to 448th BG:

712th Bombardment Squadron (H)
713th Bombardment Squadron (H)
714th Bombardment Squadron (H)
715th Bombardment Squadron (H)
58th Station Complement Squadron.
1596 Ordnance Supply and Maintenance (AVN)
1232 QM Service Group (AVN) 459th Sub Depot
2102 Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon (AVN)
862nd Chemical Company Air Operations
262nd Medical Dispensary RS (AVN)
DET B212 FIN Section
1193RD Military Police (AVN)


The airfield had three runways and a total 51 hardstands both of the loop and frying pan type as well as two T-2 hangars, one each on each side of the airfield. The barrack sites consisted of temporary buildings and were located at the southern side of the airfield, dispersed in the adjoining farmland.

The 448th BG flew a total of 262 missions from Seething; they dropped 15,286 tons of bombs and destroyed 47 enemy aircraft. According to the memorial in Seething churchyard, a total of 350 men were killed in action; 119 men were either injured or died of wounds and 875 men were listed as missing in action. 146 aircraft were lost, with 98 aircraft missing in action, 17 abandoned on the Continent and 31 lost by salvage.

After the last Americans had left in June/July 1945, the airfield was used for storing bombs and munitions and became Sub-site 53 Maintenance Unit from July 1945 until 24 November 1947 and Sub-site 94 Maintenance Unit from November 1947 until January 1950. Part of the sick quarters buildings were converted into 18 temporary dwellings in 1947, and German prisoners of war were also housed on the old airfield. Most of the land was returned to agriculture. The Seething Observatory currently occupies a small area on the former Technical site. The eastern section, including part of the main runway, is currently Seething Airfield, home to the Waveney Flying Group which owns the remaining runways and about 16 acres of the surrounding land.

The former Watch office (Control tower) has been restored by volunteers and now houses a Memorial Museum to the 448th BG. The Seething Control Tower Museum is open on the first Sunday of the month from May to October. LinkExternal link. A memorial to the men of the 448th BG who were missing or killed in action during service at Seething, unveiled in 1990, is situated beside the control tower. A black marble stone memorial can be found just inside the churchyard of St Margaret and St Remigius church in Seething.


TM3195 : 448th Bombardment Group Memorial by Evelyn Simak TM3197 : 448th Bomb Group Memorial by Evelyn Simak

TM3195 : Entrance to Seething Airfield by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : The control tower (now museum) at Seething Airfield by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Seething Control Tower Museum by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Seething Control Tower Museum by Evelyn Simak TM3295 : The Seething Observatory by Evelyn Simak


While sections of the perimeter track and a number of service roads are still being used by the farmers to get to their fields, many were lifted and crushed for aggregate, and in 2013 the bomb storage area, used for the storage of munitions, flares and fuses, too was broken up and removed. Farm buildings were erected on the hardstanding of one of the bomb bays.


TM3196 : Reinforced concrete at former aircraft storage area by Evelyn Simak TM3095 : A small heap of old bricks by Evelyn Simak TM3095 : Dairy calves at Nene Valley Farm by Evelyn Simak TM3095 : Buildings once stood here by Evelyn Simak TM3095 : RAF Seething bomb storage area by Evelyn Simak


With their land having been requisitioned and no compensation ever paid out to the owners, the farmers were made to pay not only for the return of their land when the airfield was closed, but in addition they were also made to pay for any buildings left standing. Most of the Nissen huts would appear to have been dismantled soon after the war had ended, whereas the brick and Orlit buildings accommodating the ground crews and officers were left in situ. To the south of the runways, on some of the former barracks and communal sites, several of the old living quarters and associated buildings are still standing.


TM3294 : Interior of a barrack hut by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : BCF hut in the woods by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Damp interior walls of a barrack hut by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Water tower in the woods by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Derelict buildings on Site 12 by Evelyn Simak


Some of these buildings contain lists of bombing targets and records of flown missions, written on the walls of their huts by the men who were based here during the war, whilst others were decorated with murals. One of these depicts a dogfight - a confrontation between USAAF B-24 Liberators and perhaps a P-51 Mustang, and a German fighter aircraft, and another was of a village surrounded by fields, with high mountains in the background, now almost invisible. Almost all of these sites are overgrown and the interiors of many of the surviving buildings are hence quite damp. This dampness is dissolving the paint and the plaster is riddled with cracks.


TM3294 : Cracking plaster and fading paint by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Wartime records slowly fading by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Cracking up by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Fading paintwork by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Running paint and cracking plaster by Evelyn Simak


The Technical site was located to the south of the Control tower. One of the very few buildings to have survived here is the Pyrotechnic store, used to safely store signal flares and smoke generators for sending visual signals to aircraft, has survived intact. The site is now much overgrown, a thicket still sheltering the remains of a substantial building, the Floodlight Tractor and Trailer shed. The site also had a Parachute store and a Dinghy shed, a Radar workshop and a Crew locker, rest and drying room as well as various other buildings including aircraft hangars; an electrical sub-station and latrines. Blast shelters can also still be found here.


TM3195 : Track on the old Technical site by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : A hangar once used to stand here by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Brambles on the old Technical site by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : View across the old Technical site by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Clearing on the old Technical site by Evelyn Simak

TM3195 : Entrance into a blast shelter by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Collapsed wall by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : View inside the ruined Floodlight Tractor and Trailer Shed by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Decommissioned airfield building by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Pyrotechnic store by Evelyn Simak

TM3195 : Remains of the Floodlight Tractor and Trailer Shed by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Remains of the Floodlight Tractor and Trailer Shed by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Remains of the Floodlight Tractor and Trailer Shed by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Remains of the Floodlight Tractor and Trailer Shed by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Remains of the Floodlight Tractor and Trailer Shed by Evelyn Simak


The brick-built Speech Broadcasting Building, which had the building number 42, is also still in place albeit very overgrown. On its floor the glazed ceramic pipes which once contained cables can still be seen. The Speech Broadcasting Building was commonly found on an aerodrome's Technical site, often in the vicinity of the Watch Office, and comprised a small blast-proof building housing the amplifying equipment for the Tannoy used for operational instructions to be given clearly, rapidly and simultaneously to personnel at dispersal points and other distant parts of the airfield. Microphones placed in the main operational buildings (Operations Block, Watch Office and Battle Headquarters) were connected to the Speech Broadcasting Building, from which cables running within pipes were connected to an average of 150 loudspeakers dotted around the airfield.

TM3195 : Entrance to the Speech Broadcasting Building by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Ivy-clad building in the woods by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Hidden underneath ivy by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : The Speech Broadcasting Building (interior) by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : The Speech Broadcasting Building (interior) by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : The Speech Broadcasting Building (interior) by Evelyn Simak


Off Woodlands, only a short distance further along the road, the buildings on Site A, the Headquarters/Admin site, have survived in fairly good condition. By far the largest building on this complex is the Operations block. It housed the radar room, the offices for the Commanding Officer and Air Executive and for the Group Bombardier as well as a drafting, a communications, a cryptographic and a teleprinter room. There was also the AC plant room which was adjoined by a boiler room. Further back were the offices for the operations officer and the group navigator as well as a statistical office. One room housed administration, another the ops line switchboard. The largest room, situated centrally, was the operations planning room. It contained a plotting table and was equipped with an overhead track for a travelling ladder and a large map board was on the wall. All the entrances into this part of the building were secured by airlocks. A Norden bombsight building and the Officers briefing and Interrogation block stand nearby. The toilet block, which was in an advanced state of dilapidation due to a tree splitting it in half, was demolished several years ago. An air raid shelter has survived on the edge of this site, which used to be very overgrown until in 2009 it was decided to clear it.


TM3294 : One of the buildings on the former Admin site by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Building on the former Admin site by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Another view of the Operations block by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Interior of derelict building by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : The Norden bombsight building by Evelyn Simak


Sites 2, 3 and 4 were Communal sites. No buildings would seem to have remained standing on Site 2, situated in what is now known as Bush Grove, although modern maps mark the locations of a total of eleven blast shelters on this site, all located near several large Nissen huts which are now long gone but visible in 1940s aerial views. The large number of blast shelters on this site is unusual. With the exception of Site 3 (adjoining Site 2 in the north-west) where according to modern maps three blast shelters survive, none of the other sites would seem to have had so many, although air raid shelters would seem to have prevailed elsewhere. Site 2 comprised an institute; a grocery and local produce store; dining rooms; a toilet block; a ration store; an airmen’s shower block and a fuel compound.

The buildings on Site 3 comprised an officers’ mess and baths as well as sergeants’ showers and mess. There was also a standby set house which would have contained up to three emergency Diesel generators. The latter is still standing and apparently in good condition, whereas the adjoining buildings, mainly Nissen huts, have long since been removed. At least one air raid shelter remains on this site, which was also the location of an M&E plinth (a brick enclosure housing a generator supplying the site’s electricity; it rested on a concrete plinth).


TM3294 : The standby generator set house by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Standby set house on Site 3 by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Entrance to an air raid shelter by Evelyn Simak TM3295 : Electricity sub-station by Evelyn Simak TM3295 : Electricity sub-station by Evelyn Simak


Site 4 was located in a field east of Frog’s Hall Farm. This was one of the larger camps, consisting of the CO’s quarters; sergeants’ quarters and mess; shower blocks, toilets and baths; eight airmen’s barrack huts; a barber’s, tailor’s and shoemaker’s shop; a grocery and local produce store; a ration store; dining rooms; a squash court; a gymnasium as well as an education block and a fuel compound.

Site 5, south of the Technical site, was occupied by the 713th squadron’s officers’ quarters. Site 6 was also a barracks site, with the assemblage of buildings similar to that on Site 5. The men from the 712th squadron were moved to here from Site 8.


TM3294 : A Stanton air raid shelter by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Stanton air raid shelter (interior) by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : A Stanton air raid shelter by Evelyn Simak

TM3294 : BCF hut in the woods by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : BCF hut in the woods by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : BCF huts in the woods by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : BCF huts in the woods by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : BCF hut in the woods by Evelyn Simak


The 714th bombardment squadron was housed on Site 7. Besides a picket post there were 15 airmen’s barrack huts; officers’ quarters, toilets and baths; sergeants’ quarters, toilets and baths and a drying room. In addition, the site had a fuel compound and a 55 000 gallon water tank. No buildings remain here, nor on Sites 8 and 9, the latter adjoining Cooper’s Grove in the north-west. These were accommodation sites, with an assemblage of buildings similar to that on site 7. Site 8 was for some time occupied by the 712th squadron and had eleven barracks huts; there were nine airmen’s barracks huts on Site 9. A fourth accommodation site, Site 10, was situated near Site A.


TM3294 : Overgrown building in the wood by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Toilet in the woods by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : One of the shower blocks on Site 12 by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Shower block - interior by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : A field of beans by Evelyn Simak


Sites 11 and 12 were located in fields to the south of Toad Lane. Both these sites had initially been intended for use by the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) but the buildings were used to house the 715th bombardment squadron’s ground crews instead. A concrete hardstanding and a couple of air raid shelters remain on Site 11. There used to be a picket post; four barracks huts; sergeants’ quarters, baths, toilets and a drying room at this site, which was the smallest camp on the airfield.

A short distance further to the south a number of buildings have survived on Site 12, a much larger campsite also intended for the WAAF. Two large Nissen huts on this site, the sergeants’ and ORs’ (other ranks) mess and the sergeant’s recreation room, are very dilapidated and overgrown. The Orlit buildings and adjoining water towers, located a short distance to the east, remain in a slightly better condition. Most of these were shower blocks, with their windows containing plates of asbestos instead of glass. Site 12 had its own sick quarters, bathhouse and laundry; an institute and officers’ and sergeants’ quarters. There was also a fuel compound, an M&E plinth and a number of air raid shelters, one of which is about three times the length of the more commonly found 50-man shelters.

After the war Site 12 became Camp 258 - a Working Camp for prisoners who had served in the Waffen SS and for Lufwaffe personnel, including Fallschirmjaeger, as well as Field Division troops. A considerable part of their agricultural work was with sugar beet.


TM3294 : Old Nissen huts by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : The old dining rooms by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Derelict water tower by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Entrance of an air raid shelter by Evelyn Simak TM3294 : Ruined building in the woods by Evelyn Simak


Site 13, the Sick quarters or Hospital site, was situated in a field to the west of Ivy Farm where airmen and officers alike were always made very welcome. The site comprised a picket post; sergeants’ and ORs’ quarters and toilets; an ambulance garage and mortuary; a sick annex and sick quarters (hospital). There was also an M&E plinth. After the war, 18 of the buildings were converted to temporary homes for local families but several years later these were dismantled, the concrete hardstanding broken up and the site returned to agriculture.


TM3294 : A field of wheat by Evelyn Simak TM3394 : Ivy Farmhouse by Evelyn Simak


A short distance further to the south from here, adjacent to the north-eastern edge of Tindal Wood, was Site 14, the Sewerage disposal site. Three sewage tanks and a number of settlement beds can be seen on 1940s aerial views. Today the site is overgrown and no trace would seem to remain of the wartime installations.

An M&E plinth, situated in Tearcoat Plantation beside Wash Lane, a track linking Seething Road and Pound Lane, further to the west, probably supplied power for the runway approach and circle lighting as well as the Main Beacon transmitter which was situated a short distance further along the track and south of the end of the runway. The concreted hardstanding this beacon stood on is still in place. Tearcoat Plantation today extends to both sides of Wash Lane but during the war only the southern section was wooded. An aerial view dating from the 1940s shows a number of military buildings can in the adjacent field, and what is now Seething Road was a lane turning off the southern perimeter track of the aerodrome.


TM3094 : Concrete hard standing beside Wash Lane by Evelyn Simak

TM3094 : M&E plinth in Tearcoat Plantation by Evelyn Simak TM3094 : Found in derelict building by Evelyn Simak TM3094 : M&E plinth in Tearcoat Plantation by Evelyn Simak TM3094 : Rusty cupboard by Evelyn Simak TM3094 : M&E plinth in Tearcoat Plantation by Evelyn Simak


One of the airfield's blister hangars has survived on Richardson's boatyard at Stalham in North Norfolk.


TG3724 : Blister hangar at Richardson's boatyard by Evelyn Simak TG3724 : Blister hangar at Richardson's boatyard by Evelyn Simak


A Charity Air Day is organised every year with the aim to raise as much money as possible for chosen charities, the East Anglian Air Ambulance and East Anglia's Children's Hospice and to provide a platform for local charitable organisations on which to promote their cause. It is also a good day out for young and old. The Seething Control Tower Museum, housed in the restored Second World Ward watch office, is also open to visitors.

TM3195 : The Red Sparrows by Evelyn Simak TM3295 : Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Sally B" by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Wildcat Aerobatics at Seething Charity Air Day by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Curtiss P-40M Kittyhawk fighter aircraft (detail) by Evelyn Simak TM3295 : C-47 Dakota by Evelyn Simak

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Please note that all the sites described above are on private land and should only be visited with the respective owners’ permission. My thanks go to the Ditchingham Estate, Mr Henry Shulver, Mr and Mrs Dunning and to the owners of Ivy Farmhouse. I am also very grateful for the help and information generously supplied by Mrs Patricia Everson, the local 448th BG historian, and to Mr James Turner, the chairman, for giving permission to photograph some of the exhibits on display at the Control Tower Memorial Museum.


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