Report - RAF Watton, Norfolk. Airfield defences, March 2016

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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
RAF Watton.
Absolutely gutted that I never photographed any of the site in all the time I was there in the late 90s. Even found some tunnels and underground buildings that have since been built on.....
First, some history, from Wiki:

RAF Watton is a former Royal Air Force station located 9 miles southwest of East Dereham, Norfolk, England and has an active military history spaning nearly 6 decades.

RAF Watton was a permanent expansion period RAF station built by John Laing & Son and first used as a light bomber airfield. The four 1935 design C-type hangars, arranged in the usual crescent on the northern side of the airfield, were backed by the permanent buildings of the pre-war RAF camp. The construction of the airfield necessitated the closure of two public roads. Opened in 1937 it was used by both the Royal Air Force (RAF) and United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during the Second World War.
On two occasions in 1940, 82 Squadron (Bristol Blenheim MkIVs) sent a squadron of 12 aircraft out on raids, only for a single aircraft to return, resulting in the squadron having one of the highest loss ratios in bomber command.
In 1943 Watton was turned over to the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force for use as an air depot. The airfield was originally grass surfaced but, during the American tenure, the airfield had a 2,000 yd (1,829 m) long concrete runway constructed and a concrete perimeter track was built.

3rd Strategic Air Depot.
Under the American tenancy, Watton was expanded to become the 3rd Strategic Air Depot, which was the major overhaul and repair of the Consolidated B-24 Liberators of the 2nd Air Division. The air depot complex was adjacent to Watton airfield and built in the village of Griston to the south, bordering the B1077 road. However, the depot was known officially as Neaton, given USAAF designation Station 505, a village located to the north of Watton town.
The 3rd Strategic Air Depot remained operational until the American departure in July 1945.

25th Bombardment Group (Reconnaissance)
Watton was also the home of the 25th Bombardment Group (Reconnaissance) which was formed at Watton as the 802nd Reconnaissance Group in February 1944. The unit was renamed the 25th on 17 July 1944.

Watton reverted to RAF control on 27 September 1945. It was used by various flying units of RAF Signals Command.

With the installation of secondary surveillance radar (SSR) at Watton, the station became one of the five units in the joint military/civil National Air Traffic Services Organisation with Eastern Radar until the 1980s. Then in the 1990s, the airfield came into use by the Army in connection with the nearby Stanford Training Area (STANTA).

Part of the camp put up for sale in 1995 was sold to a developer for the creation of a new housing estate.
A large part of the site has been developed into the Blenheim Grange housing estate, which is actually officially part of Carbrooke. All of the roads are given names with links to air force history, such as Wellington Road and Canberra Road. History has not been forgotten on the estate and at the entrance there are two monuments, one is a propeller in memory of the British airmen and the other is a more traditional monument in memory of the Americans.

The Runway is still mostly in place (apart from an area that has been taken up and a footpath to Griston has been built) at the top end of the estate and the area is set to become agricultural land. A large part of the estate is still to be developed and in many places you can still see signs with wording similar to "RAF property keep out".

Airfield Defences
In addition to two Pickett Hamilton fort pillboxes that I could not locate, supposedly around the East end of the flying field, the airfield had 5 Pillboxes to the north and just outside of its boundary. A rare pentagonal roofless one has disappeared under housing development.

Peritrack Pillbox.

Just outside the bomb stores. The only one inside the Airfield Boundary. Fairly clean, but weather worn and part hidden under vegitation. Brick shuttering.

Still complete with a bit of hardware.

Backtrack Pillbox:
Down a little track, used to access bomb stores. Full of crap, under vegitation and falling apart. Brick shuttering.

Back down the lane......

Clipbush lane:
On the edge of a field. Bit of rubbish inside. Brick shuttering, mostly fallen disappeared.

Nice clear field of fire.....

Pillbox; track by married quarters:
When I was a kid, I used to play all over this. It was in a lot worse state then and has been partially rebuilt. It has had a new pair of doors installed and locked making internal inspection impossible. I always suspected the walls on top to be from some sort of anti aircraft gun.....

Fizzing Onions. The hypocrisy of the statement "Please help preserve our heritage" whilst they vandalise and destroy a whole 1935 pattern station right in front of he box really gets me.

The Heinkel He111 that was bought down in Ovington by the cable rockets.

Complete with smiley face on the canopy!

Memorial to the AA crews, behind Tedder close.

More reports of the rest of the airfield to follow in due course......

Exploring WithLiam

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Jan 28, 2016
Look up VPH roofing from watton.

I use to work for them and on there old Depot has a big fuck off nuclear bunker in the middle of the yard.

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