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Report - - USAAF/RAF Rivenhall - December 2011 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - USAAF/RAF Rivenhall - December 2011



Session9

A life backwards
Regular User
#1
History (shortened Wiki)

Opened in 1943, Rivenhall was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Force. During the war it was used primarily as a combat airfield with various fighter and bomber units. After the war it was closed during 1946 and kept in reserve until 1956. Rivenhall, for a time, was used to house Polish servicemen released from PoW camps who did not want to return to their homeland. Marconi leased much of the site after this time.

Construction was begun in early 1943 with the runways, perimeter and hard standings being built by Messrs W. & C. French and the buildings by Bovis Limited. Building progress was slow during the autumn and winter of 1943, so much so that much of the accommodation and support installations were uncompleted when the first units of the USAAF arrived. The airfield, like others in the grouping, had first been allocated to the Eighth Air Force for heavy bomber use and eventually re-assigned to the 3rd Bombardment Wing which became the nucleus of IX Bomber Command.

The airfield was built to the Class A airfield standard consisting of three runways of 6,000 ft (10/28), 4,200 ft (04/22), and 4,200 ft (16/34). 51 "Loop" type hardstands were constructed connecting to an enclosing perimeter track, of a standard width of 50 feet. The ground support station was constructed largely of Nissen huts of various sizes mostly on the south side of the airfield. The support station was where the group and ground station commanders and squadron headquarters and orderly rooms were located. Also on the ground station were where the mess facilities; chapel; hospital; mission briefing and debriefing; armory and bombsite storage; life support; parachute rigging; supply warehouses; station and airfield security; motor pool and the other ground support functions necessary to support the air operations of the group. These facilities were all connected by a network of single path support roads.

The technical site, also on the south side of the airfield, was connected to the ground station and airfield consisted of at least two T-2 type hangars and various organizational, component and field maintenance shops along with the crew chiefs and other personnel necessary to keep the aircraft airworthy and to quickly repair light and moderate battle damage. Aircraft severely damaged in combat were sent to repair depots for major structural repair.

The Ammunition dump was located on the north side of the airfield, outside of the perimeter track surrounded by large dirt mounds and concrete storage pens for storing the aerial bombs and the other munitions required by the combat aircraft. Various domestic accommodation sites were constructed dispersed away from the airfield on the south side, but within a mile or so of the technical support site, also using clusters of Maycrete or Nissen huts. The Huts were either connected, set up end-to-end or built singly and made of prefabricated corrugated iron with a door and two small windows at the front and back. They provided accommodation for 2,594 personnel, including communal and a sick quarters.

(for a full history including military operations, please refer to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Rivenhall


The explore

Rivenhall is a large site, with many of the buildings scattered in woodland bordering on farmland, whilst others stand isolated within the encroaching gravel extraction activities. Two hangers exist, one is listed, whilst the other is due to be demolished (Marconi modified the building, therefore making it invalid for listing) to make way for a incinerator. All other buildings next to the runway and the control tower itself have been cleared in the last few years. Away from the runway, other buildings are in a poor state since their use by Marconi's except a cluster of pre-fabricated buildings (in the style of the old wards at Harold Wood Hospital) that have been refurbished and are used by businesses. The only areas not covered on the explore was the Hospital/Morgue and the barracks (of which their existence is in some doubt).

And a word to the wise: explore in winter time when nature has had a rest of reclaiming the buildings!

Explored with two non members.


On with the fots:

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Picket post, guarding the HQ buildings behind.



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Today the building guards a field of corn.



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The HQ buildings as new in 1943.



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The same buildings today.



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These Nissen huts were used as breifing/de-breifing rooms. The Police had fitted some of them out with racking for some exercise a number of years ago.



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The Control Room. It is well reported this area is a subject of ghost activity...excuse me while i yawn...



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Some sort of adding machine, probably discarded by Marconi's.



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Boiler room.



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Switches (English Electric type).



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Hanger No.1.



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Hanger No.2 (note the roof modification made by Marconi).



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Hanger No.2 interior.



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The lighting and trailer store. This building together with the parachute store have become marooned as the expanding gravel extraction claims land around them.



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The parachute store.



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The admin and training hut.



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The admin and training hut is nicely preserved, while many other huts have simply perished.



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Watching TV...a Roger Waters classic.



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Memorial in the local pubs garden. The pub provides a wealth of photographs and memorabilia from the airfield.


Thanks for looking :)
 

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