RAF Horham - USAAF Station 119

Text © Copyright Evelyn Simak, June 2015
Images are under a separate Creative Commons Licence.

RAF Horham is located about six kilometres (four miles) south-east of Eye and straddles the parishes of Denham, Horham, Redlingfield and Hoxne. One of the earliest heavy bomber bases opened in East Suffolk, it had been constructed for use by the RAF but in 1942 was handed over to the United States Army Air Forces' (USAAF) 8th Air Force and consequently designated Station 119. From 13 September 1943 to 6 August 1945, Horham was also the headquarters for the 13th Combat Bombardment Wing of the 3d Bomb Division, which was in charge not only of the resident 95th but also of the 100th Bomb Group (BG) at Thorpe Abbotts in South Norfolk > LinkExternal link and the 390th BG at Framlingham (Parham). The airfield was built to the standard Class A layout and had three intersecting runways, with the main runway being 2000 metres and the two secondary runways 1400 metres long. There were also 50 "frying pan" and 40 "spectacle" aircraft dispersals. (Spectacle dispersals are so called because their shape resembles a spectacle. They were the newer design of two types of aircraft dispersals, the other one being the so-called "frying pans" which have a circular diameter.)

Two T2 hangars, painted in black and dark earth tones for camouflage (at later airfields the hangars were finished in tar varnish) stood beside Horham Road, on the edge of the smaller of the aerodrome's two Technical sites which was situated in the field across the road from Whitehouse Farm and only a short distance away from the Station headquarters. Buckman Hall, known as Bokenham's in the mid-15th century and situated in the fields across the road from Whitehouse Farm on what was to become the smaller of the two Technical sites, was razed to the ground and Cratfield Town Farm, located a short distance to the north-east, met the same fate. The remains of both are still in evidence on an aerial view taken by the RAF in 1944 but today no trace remains. Horham Road, which crossed the south-western end of the flying field including the main runway, was severed by the construction of the aerodrome and rerouted to the south. After the closure of the runway the old road was reinstated, with the B1117 today following its wartime course.

TM3295 : Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Sally B" by Evelyn Simak TM2172 : Dragon House, Horham by Evelyn Simak

Within weeks the population of Horham, which during the war had only around 150 inhabitants, surrounding farms included, had risen to several thousand when about 3000 Americans arrived to serve at the aerodrome, all being accommodated on the dispersed sites spread out across the adjacent farmland. Only a couple of shops and a public house, the Green Dragon, which closed in 1966 and now is a private dwelling known as Dragon House, were lined up along the single road leading through the village. A few British searchlight units as well as a modest number of evacuees fleeing the big cities had until then been the only recent newcomers to the area. Landscape historian Annie Sommazzi has described the airfield construction as having been the single largest landscape change to have taken place in the area for the last 2000 years, but soon the local population made friends amongst the Americans and were often invited to dances and other big occasions such as celebrations and festivals held at the air base.

The first USAAF unit to arrive was the 47th Bombardment Group (Light) which had moved in on 5 October 1942 from Bury St Edmunds, flying Douglas A-20 Havoc light bomber aircraft. When in January 1943, the group departed for Mediouna in French Morocco it was followed by the 323rd BG (Medium), arriving on 12 May 1943 from Myrtle Beach AAF South Carolina. The 323rd, flying B-26B/C Marauders, was however assigned to the 3rd Bombardment Wing and transferred to RAF Earls Colne in Essex before flying any operational missions from Horham. On 15 June 1943, the 95th Bombardment Group (Heavy) with their B-17 Flying Fortress bomber aircraft arrived from RAF Framlingham (Parham) and was assigned to the 13th Combat Bombardment Wing.

TM3195 : Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Sally B" by Evelyn Simak TM3295 : Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Sally B" by Evelyn Simak TM3195 : Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Sally B" by Evelyn Simak TM3295 : Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Sally B" by Evelyn Simak TM3295 : Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Sally B" by Evelyn Simak

The group's operational flying squadrons were:

334th Bombardment Squadron
335th Bombardment Squadron
336th Bombardment Squadron
412th Bombardment Squadron

Other USAAF units serving at the base were:

457th Sub-Depot
18th Weather Squadron
8th Station Complement Squadron
Headquarters (13th Combat Bomb Wing)

Additional regular Army units based at the aerodrome were:

1210th Quartermaster Company
1285th Military Police Company
1676th Ordnance Supply & Maintenance Company
879th Chemical Company
2022nd Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon

Participating in the 8th Air Force's bombing campaign against strategic targets in Germany, the group attacked harbours, factories and marshalling yards and by the end of the war had been awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations (DUCs). Their last combat mission, an attack on marshalling yards at Oranienburg, was flown on 20 April 1945 and in early May the group flew a number of humanitarian missions such as the dropping of food supplies to Dutch civilians in German occupied territory.

Tragically, one of the group's aircraft, B-17G 44-48640, was the last B-17 to be shot down in the European theatre of operations when it was fired on by a German flak battery on overflying the Dutch port of IJmuiden during Chowhound (food dropping) Mission #6. The aircraft caught fire and crashed into the sea near Southwold in Suffolk, killing the pilot, 2nd Lt Lionel N Sceurman, 1st Lt Russell H Cook (navigator), Staff Sgt Gano E McPherson (radio operator), Staff Sgt Robert W Korber (top turret gunner/engineer), Staff Sgt John R Keller (ball turret gunner), Staff Sgt Edward H Bubolz (right waist gunner), Staff Sgt Norbert J Kuper (left waist gunner), Staff Sgt William R Lankford (tail gunner), and three members of the station's Photographic Section, Staff Sgt Gerald Lane, Sgt Joseph R Repiscak and PFC George L Waltari, who had also been on board. Sceurman reportedly managed to escape through the window but drowned before he could be rescued. Cook was picked up alive but died before the British Air Sea rescue aircraft reached base. The bodies of Korber and Kuper were recovered and Keller's body was found washed ashore later. The co-pilot, 2nd Lt James R Schwartz, and the bombardier, Staff Sgt David C Condon, who was rescued by an American Catalina flying boat, both survived the crash. The bodies of the other men on board the aircraft were never found and are presumed to still be in the wreckage at the bottom of the North Sea, about six kilometres off the English coast.

During June and August 1945, the 95th BG returned to Sioux Falls AAF South Dakota, leaving their Stars and Stripes headquarters flag in the care of Stradbroke All Saints church. The group had flown 321 missions and was the first to perform a daylight raid on Berlin; it claimed the highest number (425) of enemy aircraft destroyed by any USAAF BG in WW2, and it was the only 8th Air Force bomb group to receive the Distinguished Unit Citation three times. The records however also document that 157 of their aircraft were lost and that 569 men were killed (with an additional seven missing and presumed killed) in action; 851 men were taken prisoners of war. There were also 39 non-combat losses caused mainly by flying accidents such as mid-air collisions which apparently happened frequently.

A memorial stone in the characteristic shape of a B-17 Flying Fortress's tail was unveiled in September 1981 in Horham village where it can be found adjacent to the village sign in The Street, opposite Horham St Mary's church. The church houses the oldest ring of eight bells in the world, the oldest having been cast in 1568. Due to their decayed wooden frames however, these bells had not been rung since 1911. Thanks to the initiative of and a generous donation by the 95th Bomb Group Association in cooperation with the English Friends of the 95th, the bells were finally restored and rehung in December 1990. A carved oak memorial in the church commemorates this event. On the nave west wall a corn doily in the shape of a bald eagle and made by a local woman also commemorates the 95th BG and there are a number of associated kneelers. At the 95th Bomb Group Museum a black marble bench commem­orates Squadron Leader Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Robert "Bob" C Cozens, who when based at Horham was in charge of the 335th Squadron. Bob Cozens is reported to have saved the group twice, once during WW2 by rallying them after a partic­u­larly deadly raid on Kiel, and once again after the war, when he secured the future of the veterans’ organ­isation in the US. Bob Cozens participated in 25 combat missions, including to Kiel, Regensburg, La Pallice, Schweinfurt and Münster. The granite memorial stone adjacent to the Cozens memorial was built by volun­teers Roy Wilkinson and Barry Ransome and bears an especially commissioned black granite plaque which reads: "The Red Feather Club Museum is dedicated to the memory of the 95th Bombardment Group (H), who served with honour and valour at Horham Airfield (Station 119) June 1943 – June 1945." Both these memorials can be seen in front of the McKnight Building (named after 95th Bomb Group Association President Col David T McKnight) which is situated opposite the museum entrance.

There is also a memorial on the green of Redlingfield village, about two kilometres south of the aerodrome. Erected by the 95th Bomb Group Memorials Foundation it was unveiled in May 2010 and is dedicated to the crew of B-17G 42-31123, which on 19 November 1943 crashed nearby at Green Farm shortly after take-off, killing 2nd Lt Kenneth B Rongstad (pilot), 2nd Lt Warren M Strawn, 2nd Lt Richard E Diete, 2nd Lt Joseph F Spicer, S/Sgt Gail A Richmond Jr, T/Sgt Gordon V Sorensen, Sgt Charles M Phinney, Sgt Louis M Mirabel, Sgt Julius W Torok and Sgt Kenneth Cosby.

TM2172 : Memorial to the USAAF which were at Horham 1943- 1945 by Adrian S Pye TM2172 : Memorial to U.S.A.A.F. Horham by Keith Evans TM1972 : Memorial to the men of the USAAF 95th BG (H) by Adrian S Pye TM1972 : 95th Bombardment Group Museum - memorial by Evelyn Simak TM1971 : B-17 Memorial by Nat Bocking

TM2172 : St Mary's church, Horham by Evelyn Simak TM2172 : St Mary's church, Horham (memorial) by Evelyn Simak TM2172 : St Mary's church, Horham (memorial) by Evelyn Simak

TM2172 : St Mary's church, Horham - kneeler by Evelyn Simak TM2172 : St Mary's church, Horham - kneeler by Evelyn Simak TM2172 : St Mary's church, Horham - kneeler by Evelyn Simak TM2172 : St Mary's church, Horham - kneeler by Evelyn Simak TM2172 : St Mary's church, Horham - kneeler by Evelyn Simak

On 9 October 1945, the station was returned to the RAF and became a satellite for Nos. 25 and 262 Maintenance Units until October 1948, when it was declared surplus to requirements and many of the buildings, including the T2 aircraft hangars, were subsequently dismantled. The year before, on Sunday the 10th of September 1944, the famous American big band musician, composer and bandleader Glenn Miller is documented to have played in Hangar 2 in celebration of the group's completion of its 200th mission, shortly before the aircraft he was travelling in disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel on 15 December 1944 whilst en route to entertain American troops in France.

The Main Technical Site was located west of the flying field and spread out along the eastern side of Hoxne Road, north of Denham Corner. The guardroom at its entrance is still standing and currently in use as Denham's village hall. It contains some wartime graffiti which has been preserved. During the Cold War era, a 61 metres (200 feet) high radar mast and associated buildings were located a short distance further down the road on the aerodrome's wartime vehicle maintenance compound. The installation is believed to have operated as a radar link for the tracking of Bloodhound missiles, and Paul Bellamy from the Airfield Information Exchange website has indeed since established that one of the bearings indicated on the site plan intersects perfectly with the 24 Wing Tactical Control Centre at RAF Watton (Bloodhound Mk.I) and the other with RAF Bawdsey, which in September 1937 became the first fully operational radar station in the world and was used as an RAF base throughout the Cold War, closing in the 1990s. The Bristol Bloodhound is a British surface-to-air missile developed during the 1950s and at the time was Britain's main air defence weapon. The missiles were withdrawn from RAF service in July 1991. At Horham, the mast was dismantled in the mid-1960s but the four concrete plinths which anchored it are still in place. On weekends one of the two surviving post-war buildings, believed to have housed a generator, as it originally had a large entrance doorway at one end for access which has since been bricked up, is now open as a tea room. The adjoining building contained a toilet, bunks, and a small kitchen area, indicating that it may have served to accommodate a maintenance crew. A WW2 Stanton-type air raid shelter is concealed within a nearby thicket of trees and shrubs, with a well-established tree growing out of its entrance and effectively blocking access. The radar installation was surrounded by a high security fence and is said to have been patrolled by guard dogs.

The considerably smaller Technical Site 2 was aligned along the north side of Horham Road nearer to Horham village, south of the flying field and east of the main runway. No buildings have survived here and the land has long since reverted to agriculture.

TM1972 : Air raid shelter at Denham Corner by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : Entrance into an air raid shelter by Evelyn Simak

TM1973 : Building on the Technical site by Evelyn Simak TM1973 : A Packet for every Pocket by Evelyn Simak TM1973 : Building on the Technical site by Evelyn Simak TM1973 : Remains on the Technical site by Evelyn Simak

TM1973 : Frontage of Denham village hall by Evelyn Simak TM1973 : Denham village hall by Evelyn Simak TM1973 : Denham village hall (interior) by Evelyn Simak TM1973 : Graffiti in the old guardroom by Evelyn Simak TM1973 : Numbered coat hangers by Evelyn Simak

The aerodrome's dispersed sites, comprising two Communal sites, six accommodation sites and two WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force) camps, were located on agricultural land to the west of the flying field and mainly in the parish of Denham and the (long since closed) Green Man pub was regularly used by the American airmen. Whereas many of the concrete access roads are still in place and now in farm use, almost all of the temporary brick buildings and huts were dismantled and the land they stood on has long since returned to agriculture. A few scattered and mostly dilapidated structures remain hidden beneath layers of brambles and nettles. There is however still quite a lot to see at two locations at least, both now being museums thanks to the efforts of the current owners of these sites, which will be described in more detail below.

Site 3 was spread out across what today is once again a crop field opposite the Hospital site, adjacent to the western edge of Deal Plantation. Following the public footpath skirting it in the north and linking Shingle Hill Corner and Denham Green further to the east, the path also leads past Site 1, of which no trace remains. A single barrack hut can however still be seen in the distance further to the south-east. It is the last remaining building on Site 6, the 335th Squadron's accommodation site, now standing in the middle of a crop field adjacent to Coldham Wood. The access road leading to it is long gone.

TM1973 : Barrack hut surrounded by crop fields by Evelyn Simak

Site 5 (334th Squadron accommodation) was situated in a field beside the B1117, to the south of Site 4, where the men of the 412th Squadron were accommodated. This location has fully returned to agriculture and is now once again a crop field. Until recently, two buildings had survived across the road from here on Site 2, the 336th Squadron's accommodation site, situated west of the B1117 road and surrounded by crop fields. The two remaining former ablutions blocks have recently been incorporated into a private dwelling; due to the owners wishing to keep their new home private it cannot at the time of writing (June 2015) be verified how much, if anything, of the structures has survived. The old concrete track now serving as the access road into the property as well as a hardstanding marking the location of the former coal store are apparently still in place.

TM1873 : Wheat crop field west of Coldham Wood by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : Old concreted road by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : Old door panel by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : Deal Plantation, Denham by Evelyn Simak TM1973 : Concrete hardstanding on the edge of a field by Evelyn Simak

The Communal site 1 was spread out along the western edge of Coldham Wood, an ancient woodland north of Horham Road. Today this area is once again in farm use and populated by mature trees. The old concrete access road is still in place. The Communal site 2 was situated a short distance further south in a field to the east of Redlingfield Wood, an ancient woodland and a recorded County Wildlife site. The concrete track leading into the site turns off Horham Road and would seem to be original, albeit perhaps somewhat improved, as at present it is the access road for the 95th Bomb Group Museum. The museum's exhibits and memorabilia are housed in the former Sergeant's Mess (Building 404) which was restored by members of the 95th Bomb Group Heritage Association. The official airfield site plan shows that during the war the buildings on this site, which originally used to be considerably larger than it is today, also included an Officers' Mess, showers and latrines; airmen's showers and ablutions, and a decontamination block; an airmen's dining room; a ration store; a grocery and local produce store; a NAAFI (Institute) and an education block which would seem to never have been completed. The site's high-level water tank on the roof of a boiler house is also still in place albeit not restored and hence much overgrown. Brick-built blast shelters and several air raid shelters are still in place in Redlingfield Wood.

The existence of a latrine bucket emptying platform on the edge of Redlingfield Wood, beside the site entrance off Horham Road, is evidence that the Communal site 2 was not connected to mains sewerage and that the contents of the chemical toilets had to be disposed of at this location and was pumped to the sewage works from there. The short, single width concrete road leading to the remains of the platform is still in place. It has a reversing point in the shape of a screw head.

TM1873 : Concrete hardstanding on the edge of Redlingfield Wood by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : Bucket emptying platform (remains) by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : Bucket emptying platform (remains) by Evelyn Simak

TM1972 : Boiler house and water tank by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : Braithwaite water tank by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : WW2 boiler house and water tank (detail) by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : WW2 boiler house and water tank by Evelyn Simak

After the war some of the buildings, including the Sergeant's mess and the NCOs' (non-commissioned officers) social club - then and now known as the Red Feather Club, in reference to the 95th BG's insignia comprising a red feather which represents the red badge of courage - had been used by the resident farmer for rearing rabbits and chickens and for storing farm machinery until they had become too derelict to be of any use, and by the 1970s they were overgrown and roofless. The structures only survived thanks to the initiative of a group of local enthusiasts, the 'Friends of the 95th' as they initially called themselves, who in 1981 purchased and over the years restored them. Nestled in the centre of a poultry farm and surrounded on two sides by large poultry houses, the complex comprises five restored and partially rebuilt inter­con­nected rooms accessed through the former cook house, where a large diorama of the airfield and a Roll of Honour commem­or­ating the men of the 95th BG killed from 1943 to 1945 can be seen. An adjoining room houses Brad's Bar, named after its wartime barkeeper, Brad Petrella and said to be an exact replica of the original bar which existed here during the war. The exhibits, all exclusively relating to the 95th BG, are displayed in the old Beer Hall. Continuing the wartime tradition of the social club, the completely rebuilt former Dry Lounge, today referred to as the Blue Lounge, is used for 1940s-style dances and various other local events. The McKnight Building, unveiled in September 2014, is a new construction containing a fire­proof archives room as well as computer and conference rooms. A reconstructed guardroom is used by the 1285th Mil­itary Police Com­pany re-enactors, some of whom can frequently be seen wandering about when the museum is open. Visitors also have the opportunity to explore the remaining brick-built blast shelters in the vicinity.

TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : 95th Bombardment Group Museum - the McKnight Building by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : 95th Bombardment Group Museum - the Beer Hall by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : Old guardroom by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak

TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak

Of particular note are the original (restored) pieces of artwork - a series of murals depicting scenes from a medieval banquet created by Staff Sgt Nathan Bindler, who is known to also have illustrated the staff newsletter and to occasionally have assisted Capt William J Zink, the station's chaplain. As the resident artist, Sgt Bindler would seem to have been kept very busy. He is reported to have earned extra money from painting leather flight jackets and decorating some of the group's aircraft with his hand-painted nose art. The murals can be seen in situ in what today is referred to as the Mural Room, which during the war used to be the Smoking Room. Sadly, Nathan Bindler passed away before seeing the later efforts to restore his work.

TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak

TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : The Red Feather Club by Evelyn Simak

A short distance further along the road the buildings of the aerodrome's former Sick quarters (hospital) complex have also been fully restored and preserved thanks to the initiative and hard work of its current owners, Tony and Val Aldrow, who purchased the site from a local farmer after they had been used as chicken sheds, for housing pigs, for storing grain and finally for growing mushrooms for nearly two decades. During the past ten years the couple have painstakingly restored all but one of the fifteen rooms, some to their original condition and others now housing exhibits and displays. Visitors are welcome to step inside what is today known as the 95th Bomb Group Hospital Museum and experience the environs of a wartime airfield hospital, comprising various consultation rooms, an emergency treatment room and a dental surgery as well as the hospital's kitchen, to name only a few. All the rooms contain original pieces of furniture and medical equipment and a great variety of assorted contemporary wartime paraphernalia.

Unusually, the hospital site was the northernmost of all the dispersed sites and hence situated the furthest distance away from the flying field. It is located north of Shingle Hill Cottage and accessed from the private track leading to Denham Hall, which turns off the Denham Low Road, a minor road linking the hamlet of Shingle Hill Corner and the village of Heckfield Green. During the war the hospital was staffed by members of the USAAF's 271st Medical Dispensary and equipped to handle anything from a common cold (pilots suffering from a cold were taken off duty because it was deemed too dangerous to fly unpressurised aircraft in this condition) to the treatment of life-threatening injuries. Dr Jack McKittrick, one of the surgeons who worked at the hospital during the war also recalls frequent problems with frostbite due to the sub-zero temperatures encountered when flying unheated aircraft at great heights, and men suffering from battle fatigue. The original airfield site plan shows that the buildings on this site comprised the hospital and annexe and a dental surgery; the ambulance garage and mortuary; sergeants' and orderlies' quarters and ablutions, latrines and a drying room; a picket post; a static water tank for fire fighting and an air raid shelter. All these structures are still in place today. It is a rare occasion indeed to find an intact military hospital complex and it is an even rarer opportunity to be able to step into one which has been restored to its original condition.

TM1873 : Propeller blades by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital, Horham by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital, Horham by Evelyn Simak

TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak

Adjacent to the hospital building, beside the picket post guarding the entrance, the original ambulance garage and mortuary are still standing and can also be visited. Besides the ambulance, an American Dodge WC54, the garage currently houses the museum's latest acquisitions which were repatriated only a few months ago (at the time of writing, June 2015). They are most recent additions to the Hospital Museum's exhibits and comprise the remains of "Junior" (previously named "She’s My Gal"), a B-17G Flying Fortress with the serial number 42-31299 and one of the 95th BG's 334th Squadron's aircraft, which on 6 March 1944 was shot down over northern Holland on its way to bomb Berlin, crashing near Beilen in the Dutch province of Drenthe. The items recovered from the crash site during the 1990s by the staff of a Dutch museum include three engines, a flak vest, landing gear and assorted personal belongings from the 10-man crew, which had managed to successfully bale out but were arrested and taken to a prisoner of war camp in Germany. 1st Lt Garland Brooke Lloyd (pilot), 2nd Lt Willys Pierce Jones (co-pilot), 2nd Lt Elton Andrew Skinner (navigator), 2nd Lt Russel P Allman (bombardier), T/Sgt Marion Gillmor (engineer/top turret gunner), T/Sgt John Janssen (radio operator), S/Sgt Ralph R Rice (ball turret gunner), S/Sgt Porter B Hyght (right waist gunner), S/Sgt George R Robinson (left waist gunner) and T/Sgt Victor Peter Valek (tail turret gunner) all returned home after the war.

A door in the back wall of the ambulance garage leads into a small windowless room with whitewashed walls and a concrete floor, along one side of which can be seen a cement skim at the bottom of the wall, forming a curve towards the floor for easy cleaning, and a narrow drainage channel running alongside it. This was the mortuary, where the bodies of the aerodrome's dead used to be stored on trolleys until burial. It is not difficult to believe that visiting veterans are extremely reluctant to enter this space.

TM1873 : Recovered  WW2 flight jacket by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : Recovered aircraft engines by Evelyn Simak

TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum - Dodge WC54  ambulance by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : 95th Bombardment Group Hospital Museum by Evelyn Simak

The two WAAF accommodation sites were located a short distance further to the south, one south of and the other to the west of what was then known as Shingle Cottages and today is marked on the map as Shingle Hill Corner. Part of this site has been built over with Council housing and a car repair and MOT garage occupies the western part of the area. Three of the former accommodation huts, currently in industrial use, can still be found on the green space separating the domestic and the business properties and an overgrown air raid shelter is also still in place. The WAAF camp 1 had an officers' mess and quarters for ten officers; a dining room and a sergeant's mess; a NAAFI; a sergeant's recreation room with an extension (presumably for housing a film projector); a bath house and decontamination centre; a drying room; a laundry and sergeants' and airwomen's quarters, as well as a number of blast and air raid shelters. The WAAF camps also always had their own small Sick quarters, and a picket post guarded the entrance. No trace remains of the adjacent WAAF site 2 which is now a crop field.

TM1873 : Former barrack hut by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : Former barrack hut by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : Former barrack hut by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : Former barrack hut by Evelyn Simak TM1873 : Former barrack hut by Evelyn Simak

The aerodrome was eventually sold off in the early to mid-1960s and most of the land returned to agriculture. In the years that followed, large portions of the runways, perimeter track and hardstandings were removed and crushed into aggregate, subsequently used for various local construction projects. The Watch office was considered a safety hazard and demolished in the early 1970s. Around the same time a mushroom factory set up business at the end of the main runway and after its closure the buildings were taken over by a business producing glass fibre mouldings until it too closed in 2009. The Valley Farm Industrial Estate currently occupies this location. Part of the perimeter track and a section of the secondary runway on the south-eastern side of the flying field adjacent to Horham village are at present a public footpath, and all the tracks leading across the former airfield serve as farm roads. Assorted farm machinery and implements, heaps of muck and rubble, stacks of straw bales as well as disused railway goods vans can be encountered along some of them. Two of the light fittings of the 800 yard lighting bar can be seen in place on the main runway and the course of the lighting bar can also still be discerned; all the other runway light fittings have long since been removed. One of the "frying pan" aircraft dispersals (number 26), in fact the only one remaining, has also survived. The main runway, which for some time after the war had been used by crop spraying aircraft, currently serves as a farm road, albeit an unusually wide one. A local pilot uses the private grass landing strip running parallel to it.

TM2072 : Footpath onto Horham airfield by Evelyn Simak TM2172 : Disused railway goods vans by Evelyn Simak TM2072 : Opium poppies (Papaver somniferum) by Evelyn Simak TM2172 : Public footpath on Horham airfield by Evelyn Simak TM2073 : Disused fuel bowser by Evelyn Simak

TM1972 : View along the main runway from Horham Road by Evelyn Simak TM1972 : View towards the Valley Farm Industrial Estate by Evelyn Simak TM2072 : View across the main runway by Evelyn Simak TM2072 : The main runway at RAF Horham (detail) by Evelyn Simak TM2072 : Where aircraft once used to take off by Evelyn Simak

The bomb and ammunition storage area was situated to the north-east of the flying field, extending along both sides of Thorpe Hall Road. It comprised a number of bomb stores, a fuzed and spare bomb area, a component store and three Fuzing Point sheds as well as a tail unit area, incendiary bomb stores, a Pyro, flame float and a grenade store and small bombs containers. This area too has returned to agriculture, with some of the old concrete roads today serving as farm access roads. One of the Fuzing Points (Ultra Heavy) can still be seen on the corner of a field; it would seem to have been restored and converted for farm use.

TM2173 : Hardstanding in fields by Hall Farm by Evelyn Simak TM2173 : WW2 building by Evelyn Simak TM2173 : Crop fields by Hall Farm by Evelyn Simak

The station's sewage works were in a field a short distance to the north-east of the Sick quarters site. Long since disused, a small wooded area in the middle of the field still marks its location.


My grateful thanks go to Mr Tony Albrow, who opened up his 95th Bomb Group Hospital Museum out of hours so that I could take photographs without getting in the way of other visitors, and to Mrs Rose McMahon for opening Denham village hall for me on a Sunday so I could view and photograph the wartime graffiti it contains. Many thanks also to Mr Brian Huggins for permission to have a look around his property, The Old Radar Site, and to Mr Alan Johnson and Mr James Mutton of the 95th Bomb Group Museum for information about this site.

Both the 95th Bomb Group Hospital Museum (at Shingle Hill Corner) > LinkExternal link and the 95th Bomb Group Museum (off Horham Road) > LinkExternal link are open to visitors from 10am until 4pm on every last Sunday of the month between May and October.

Most of the sites described above can be seen either from public roads or from the public footpaths traversing them, although the locations of most of the former domestic sites have returned to agriculture and for this reasons are now crop fields. Part of the perimeter track and the remains of one of the secondary runways are accessible via a public footpath starting at Horham village hall. Horham Road crosses the south-western end of the main runway in front of the Valley Farm Industrial Estate, offering a good view of the runway which here is still full width. Denham village hall is located beside the former access road into the airfield's main Technical site, just off Hoxne Road.

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