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Report - - RAF Watton, Norfolk. Airfield defences, March 2016 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

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



The_Mole

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#1
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.
Defences%20-%20Bomb%20Dump.jpg

Still complete with a bit of hardware.
Defences%20-%20Bomb%20dump%201.jpg


Backtrack Pillbox:
Down a little track, used to access bomb stores. Full of crap, under vegitation and falling apart. Brick shuttering.
Defences%20-%20%20Pillbox%20Perimeter%202.jpg

Back down the lane......
Defences%20-%20Pillbox%20Perimeter%201.jpg


Clipbush lane:
On the edge of a field. Bit of rubbish inside. Brick shuttering, mostly fallen disappeared.
Defences%20-%20Clipbush%201.jpg

Nice clear field of fire.....
Defences%20-%20Clipbush.jpg


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.....
Defences%20-%20Pillbox%20Aerolite.jpg

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.
Defences%20-%20Pillbox%20Aerolite%201.jpg

The Heinkel He111 that was bought down in Ovington by the cable rockets.
sTKqR92.jpg

Complete with smiley face on the canopy!
he111e.jpg


Memorial to the AA crews, behind Tedder close.
AAG%20Memeorial%20Watton.jpg


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

gordo52

28DL Member
28DL Member
#4
I was born a short distance from the Griston end of the old RAF Camp, when a few years old in early 1960's a couple of us go through a hole in the chain link and find starter shells, with a little brasso they cleaned up lovely. There was also a Airfield opposite Bodney Camp on the road from Watton just past Great Cressingham. I am not sure if anything left there now but the strip is clear to see, bit hilly but only light craft were used. There are lost villages on the Battle Area, which I believe they allow trips at certain times of the year
 

I really don't care

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#5
I was born a short distance from the Griston end of the old RAF Camp, when a few years old in early 1960's a couple of us go through a hole in the chain link and find starter shells, with a little brasso they cleaned up lovely. There was also a Airfield opposite Bodney Camp on the road from Watton just past Great Cressingham. I am not sure if anything left there now but the strip is clear to see, bit hilly but only light craft were used. There are lost villages on the Battle Area, which I believe they allow trips at certain times of the year
To go on the tours you have to be over 18 although all the original churches that resided in the battle area when it became private property still stand, that’s what the tour goes around. All the original houses there was destroyed, they rebuilt the houses in Thompson, opposite the green. They’d resently tor down the rest of the only remaining aired houses for new houses. Some of the best places to hear the battle noises as they still fight there is standing on Merton green in the morning and evening. From personal experience living in those houses can be a nightmare. Some pillboxes still stand if you walk around that area. I sometimes worry why a 14 year old knows all this, and btw do you know a Heather? From Thompson and Merton? Or does the name Goodwin or Ayers ring any bells. If you lived in that area, it may do.
 

gordo52

28DL Member
28DL Member
#6
I was born in Caston 1952. part of the old airfield was used as go kart racing before the prison was built. Most of my school mates during the 1960's were off the old camp. I moved to Ovington later and used to go to Shipdham Airfield . I believe Raf Watton was where the very first B17 landed for duty. The Blenhiem Bombers were stationed there before handing over. An old school mate opened an RAF Museum in the old officer's mess on the camp, a Julian Horn his dad was well known as one of our high school teachers. Shame so much is gone from Tottington old village. went round when I was about 12, (1964/65)
 

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