RAF Hethel - USAAF Station 114

( Page 1 2 )
Text © Copyright Evelyn Simak, May 2014
Images are under a separate Creative Commons Licence.


Hethel was one of the first of the newly constructed bomber stations in Norfolk, with land being requisitioned in 1940 and construction commencing the following year. The station was completed in 1942 for the use by the USAAF as a bomb squadron base and designated Station 114. The 320th Bombardment Group (BG) arrived in September 1942 before construction was even completed. Later the 310th and 389th Bombardment Groups were also posted on the site.


TM1899 : Weather vane in Bracon Ash garden by Evelyn Simak


A memorial commemorating the crew of the B-24 Liberator bomber "Shazam", including pilot Lt Dale E Williams, co-pilot 1st Lt George E Benko and navigator 2nd Lt Richard K Angert, all from the 564th Bombardment Squadron, can be found beside the south porch of St Edmund's church in Costessey. The aircraft crashed shortly after take-off at Carr's Hills, a wood located to the south-east of the church, killing all ten crew members. Two memorials in the church of All Saints at Carleton Rode commemorate the 17 American airmen who lost their lives on 21 November 1944, when their aircraft collided with another over the village. They were 1st Lts JE Rhine and JW Safier; 2nd Lts DR Bromer, JE Riles and NR Snodgrass; T/Sgts WM Bucher, EG Forster, SH Smith and HN Thompson; and S/Sgts WD Brewer, J Heitler, CV Hughes, RW Krouskoup, FL Landrum, WE Leatherwood, HW Looy and WC Sawyer.

A memorial stone situated outside the south porch, in the churchyard of All Saints in Hethel, records the 389th Bomb Group's achievements and losses from June 1943 to May 1945.

Total missions 321
Aircraft missing in action 116
Personnel missing and killed in action 588
Other operational losses 37
Total bomb tonnage 17548


TG1700 : 389th Bombardment Group memorial at Hethel church by Evelyn Simak TG1712 : Memorial plaque to 10 USAF airmen by Adrian S Pye TM1192 : Memorial  in church by Evelyn Simak TM1192 : Memorial  in church by Evelyn Simak


The 389th BG, commanded by Colonel Jack Wood, became the 8th Air Force's third B-24 bomber group. They called themselves the "Sky Scorpions". The unit consisted of the 564th, 565th, 566th and 567th Bombardment Squadrons (heavy), and they were based at Hethel airfield from 11 June 1943 to 30 May 1945. In 1945, the 564th BS was judged on efficiency to be the best in the European theatre of operations.

One of the original aircraft hangars still stands near Lone Cottage in St Thomas' Lane, to the north of the airfield, to where it seems to have moved in the 1960s. Two of the originally three T2 hangars are still in place at the Lotus Car Works in Potash Lane. Several concrete hardstandings can be found on a recently cleared area adjacent to the south. Short sections of runways, currently used for storage, are also still in place.


TG1501 : T2 aircraft hangar by Evelyn Simak TG1501 : T2 aircraft hangar by Evelyn Simak TG1501 : T2 aircraft hangar by Evelyn Simak

TG1400 : Part of the NW/SE runway by Evelyn Simak TG1500 : Hangars at the former RAF Hethel by Evelyn Simak TG1500 : Potash Lane past Lotus Car Works by Evelyn Simak TG1500 : Business premises in Potash Lane by Evelyn Simak TG1500 : One of the original RAF buildings at Hethel airfield by Adrian S Pye

TG1500 : The fuel compound by Evelyn Simak TG1500 : Unidentified brick structure by Evelyn Simak TG1500 : The former fuel compound by Evelyn Simak


The former Watch office (Control tower), albeit extended, has also survived on the Lotus Works site, housing offices.


TG1500 : The former Watch office at RAF Hethel by Evelyn Simak TG1500 : The former Watch office at RAF Hethel by Evelyn Simak TG1500 : The former Watch office at RAF Hethel by Evelyn Simak TG1500 : The former Watch office at RAF Hethel by Evelyn Simak


The aerodrome's accommodation and administrative sites adjoined in the east, separated from the Lotus Car works by Potash Lane which further to the north peters out into a public footpath. This area is now known as Hethel Wood. Some of the old concrete tracks and service roads are still in place, one section now serving as a public footpath through Hethel Wood, traversing the former Communal site 1. The Communal site 2 was located a short distance further to the north. Bee orchids can be found growing beside this path.

This track continues past the site of the Officers' Mess in an easterly direction through Bush Close, past Sites 3 and 5, and it emerges near Church Farm in Hethel from where it leads to the W/T (wireless/telegraphy) site. The only major building that has survived on the Communal site in Hethel Wood is in good condition. It is the former gymnasium, restored by volunteers and now housing the 389th BG Memorial Museum as well as the old Roman Catholic chapel. Nothing remains of the Communal site 2 which was situated on the northern edge of the wood.


TG1600 : RAF Hethel Memorial Museum - exhibit by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : Footpath through Bush Close by Evelyn Simak TG1500 : Old service road on Hethel airfield by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : Bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) by Evelyn Simak

TG1500 : Path in Hethel Wood by Evelyn Simak TG1500 : Footpath in Hethel Wood by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : The 389th BG Memorial Museum by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : The 389th BG Memorial Museum by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : 389th bomb group memorial chapel, RAF Hethel by Evelyn Simak

TG1600 : RAF Hethel Memorial Museum - exhibit by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : RAF Hethel Memorial Museum - exhibit by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : RAF Hethel Memorial Museum - exhibits by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : RAF Hethel Memorial Museum - exhibits by Evelyn Simak


The chapel contains two murals, one directly above the altar, depicting the Crucifixion, and a smaller, only recently discovered mural which portrays Chaplain Gerald Beck. Both were painted in early 1944 by "Bud" Doyle, who assisted Father Beck whose office was next door. Father Beck's room contains a mural depicting a map of the world.


TG1600 : RAF Hethel - the old chapel by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : RAF Hethel - the old chapel by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : RAF Hethel - the old chapel by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : RAF Hethel Memorial Museum - Father Beck's room by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : RAF Hethel Memorial Museum - Father Beck's room by Evelyn Simak


On the Communal site 1 in what is now Hethel Wood, the borehole pump house still stands - the site had its own water supply and didn't have to rely on the mains. The use of another now very overgrown building located not far from there is unknown but another structure located a short distance away has been identified as M&E plinth. Near the gymnasium which now houses the museum and just north of the Officers' mess of which no trace remains, there are a number of blast shelters which would seem to have been deliberately destroyed.


TG1600 : A bore hole pump house by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : View into a bore hole by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : Pump house at RAF Hethel by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : Pump house at RAF Hethel by Evelyn Simak

TG1600 : Ivy-clad building in Hethel Wood by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : Dilapidated building at RAF Hethel by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : Remains of an air raid shelter at RAF Hethel by Evelyn Simak

TG1600 : M&E plinth in Hethel Wood by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : M&E plinth in Hethel Wood by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : M&E plinth in Hethel Wood (detail) by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : M&E plinth in Hethel Wood (detail) by Evelyn Simak TG1600 : M&E plinth in Hethel Wood by Evelyn Simak

KML

( Page 1 2 )
You are not logged in login | register