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Report - - RAF Grafton Underwood - Northamptonshire - April 2018 - Pic heavy, | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - RAF Grafton Underwood - Northamptonshire - April 2018 - Pic heavy,


Giymo85

Amateur and proud
28DL Full Member
This won't interest everyone but I hope someone enjoys it.

The history
The airfield was opened in 1941 and was first used by the RAF Bomber Command no. 1653 Heavy Conversion Unit with Consolidated Liberators. The original runways were approximately 1,600 yards and 1,100 yards in length. However, these were unsuitable for the operation of heavy, four-engined bombers and the field was upgraded to class A standards, including the lengthening of the runways to the required 2,000 yards for the main and 1,400 yards for each of the others, started in late 1942.

Following this, Grafton Underwood was assigned to the USAF in 1942. Its designation was USAAF Station 106. The station was home to various operational units and at any one time up to 500 service personnel were based here. This plan of the site gives an idea to the scale of operations at the base.

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For those interested in WW2 various rumours abound in regards to this site, including one that the Memphis Belle operated from the airfield. In fact, whilst that particular aircraft may have landed here on one occasion it was never based at the airfield. That does nothing to diminish the significance of the site, from which the B-17E Flying Fortress flew, amongst other heavy bombers. Marshalling with squadrons from other local fields, the Bombardment Squadrons from Grafton Underwood were directly involved with both the Normandy landings and Battle of the Bulge, where they struck enemy positions along the coast and communications and fortifications positions.

After the war, Grafton Underwood was used for vehicle storage with No. 236 Maintenance Unit employing up to two hundred civilian drivers and mechanics. The unit at the airfield repaired and stored thousands of Air Ministry vehicles, which were sold at monthly public auctions. The airfield was finally declared surplus to requirements and closed on 1 February 1959.

Our visit

As I am a bit of a nerd for WW2 history, I was delighted to read about this base, and its history. The majority of the buildings were demolished in the 1980's and the airfield side of the site is now located within private farmland. The accomodation and command sections are now part of a private estate and have been returned to woodland, which is open to the public making for a nice relaxed explore. We made our way there on a Sunday morning and ambled around, the only distraction being what appears to be the world's loudest crow scarer.

First off, I have to cover the disappointment. The underground command post has been rendered totally inaccessible. The emergency escape capped with concrete and the main entrance jammed with tree stumps as shown below.

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I guess the landowners got fed up with folk holding parties down there, but it is a real shame. All that remains (without the services of an excavator) is the bunker head, which has been painted a polka dot pattern for some reason. To make it even more frustrating, dropping a stone through the vent you can tell that it isn't flooded down there. Oh well, at least there will be no more fires.

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As you make your way around there are a liberal smattering of Stanton Shelters, most of which are still in pretty good condition. The number of these gives a very good impression as to how many were stationed here.

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As well as these, you can find the remains of various other structures littered around the woodland.

Site 4 diesel generator house

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And the remains of the officers washroom

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Site 11 ablution block

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Site 12 Sick bay

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Photographic analysis building

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I'll load the adjacent farm separately in a moment.
 

Giymo85

Amateur and proud
28DL Full Member
At the edge of the woodland there are also the remains of a former farm, for which I struggled to find any history. The way the front of the building has fallen apart seemed unusual to me, with the structure falling away between windows.

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Then, finally, a couple of odd bits. I have no idea what these are. They were located near the sick bay on an area of hard standing. If anyone can shed some light on them I'd be grateful.

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And a mystery 'safe' on the floor within the trees.

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And that's it from me. There are still other bits I have yet to locate and in truth, I think I could spend another day here with ease, but that'll do for now.

I know it's all a bit samey, so hope it wasn't too dull.
 

Bikin Glynn

28DL Regular User
Regular User
You are brave going in the house Im amazed its still standing tbh!
Been there lots but never seen the photographic building, which area is this in?
There is also remains (3ft high walls) of what I think are officers quarters just off the main path through centre of woods, not sure if u seen these?
 

Giymo85

Amateur and proud
28DL Full Member
Lovely classic Anderson shelter, few and far between nowadays. Appreciate the work @Giymo85
Thanks @Olkka glad you like. They may be few nationally but I assure you there are plenty here.

You are brave going in the house Im amazed its still standing tbh!
Been there lots but never seen the photographic building, which area is this in?
There is also remains (3ft high walls) of what I think are officers quarters just off the main path through centre of woods, not sure if u seen these?
Brave or stupid eh @Bikin Glynn? I think i lean more to the latter. The photographic building is off to the left of the main driveway into the woods, just as they begin. Look for a pylon and it's just at that spot. There is actually a much larger building behind that but there were staff working on the trees there so we couldn't get to it this time around. I think I saw the bit you mean, is it just by the central car park?
 
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Bikin Glynn

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Thanks @Olkka glad you like. They may be few nationally but I assure you there are plenty here.



Brave or stupid eh @Bikin Glynn I think i lean more to the latyer? The photographic building is off to the left of the main driveway into the woods, just as they begin. Look for a pylon and it's just at that spot. There is actually a much larger building behind that but there were staff working on the trees there so we couldn't get to it this time around. I think I saw the bit you mean, is it just by the central car park?

Yeah bit before the car park on left, quite hard to see as they are often well in undergrowth. Took my lads metal detector there a while back, was getting hits everywhere but ground so full of bricks was impossible to dig with my small trowel. may go back with some better equipment!
 

Giymo85

Amateur and proud
28DL Full Member
Yeah bit before the car park on left, quite hard to see as they are often well in undergrowth. Took my lads metal detector there a while back, was getting hits everywhere but ground so full of bricks was impossible to dig with my small trowel. may go back with some better equipment!
That sounds cool! Bound to be some neat stuff round there.
 

BlackIce

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I love this site, have visited so many times as its on my door step. Seem to find something new each visit.
Great pictures!
 

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