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A suitable location for a satellite station for Stradishall was found near Chedburgh, some six miles south of Bury St Edmunds. Work on constructing a Class A heavy bomber airfield commenced here during the first nine months of 1942.Major building work was carried out by John Laing and Son ltd.It was provided with the standard three concrete runways and a perimeter track, around which were 34 pan and 2 loop hardstandings. Initially only two steel hangars of the T2 type were erected, but a third B1 type was added in 1943 to enable easier servicing of the large bombers Later two more B1 hangers were added for glider storage. A bomb dump was built towards Rede village, with the technical site on the north side of the airfield. Dispersed along the country lanes further to the west, were the many Nissen huts and messes etc, that could accommodate over 1,800 personnel (male and female). The station was taken over by No.3 Group, Bomber Command on the 7th of September 1942. On the 1st of October, No.214 Squadron moved in from the parent station, complete with around twenty Short Stirling, four-engined heavy bombers. Unfortunately the Stirling aircraft was a poor performer; therefore it suffered heavy losses due to it having to fly lower than the other types.During its fourteen months at chedburgh, the squadron lost more than 50 stirlings on operations and in crashes This shortcoming led to them being withdrawn from front line bombing in late 1943, when they were relegated to mine laying. However, prior to this decision, part of the squadron broke away and helped to form a new bomber squadron (No.620) on the 17th of June 1943. From the above date onwards, both squadrons participated on normal night bombing missions, even though their losses were usually higher than their Lancaster equipped counterparts. On the 23rd of November 1943, No.620 was withdrawn from the bomber role and transferred to Leicester East to become involved with the Airborne Forces, where their Stirlings were used to tow large gliders. On the 10th of December 1943, the resident No.214 Squadron also departed as a new role had already been decided for Chedburgh, when it became involved with the training of new bomber crews for No.3 Group. For this task No. 1653 Heavy Conversion Unit had already formed here on the 21st of November, although it was late December 1943 before the unit was up to strength of 30 aircraft, and ready for training to commence. As previously mentioned, the role of this type of unit was to train new crews who had recently completed their training on twin-engined Wellington aircraft at an Operational Training Unit, but now needed to be trained to operate the four-engined heavy bomber. Up to this point there had only been five in a crew, but now an extra air gunner and a flight engineer joined them. The discarded Stirlings were relegated to this training role, both at Stradishall and its other satellite at Wratting Common. On 27th November 1944, No.3 Group decided to move this training commitment further to the west, consequently No.1653 Heavy Converstion Unit departed to North Luffenham. Chedburgh then returned to being an operational bomber station, when on the 5th of December 1944, No.218 Squadron arrived from Methwold. Fortunately they had converted from Stirlings to Lancasters in the previous August, so they were fully operational on the type, so immediately entered into bombing missions several times per week, weather permitting. At the end of the war, 218 squadron and their lancasters were used for taking food over to the Netherlands, as well as bringing P.O.Ws back to England. Bomber Command strength was being drastically reduced after the war, which led to No.218 Squadron being disbanded here on the 10th of August 1945. Transport Command then took over Chedburgh, as they still had a requirement for airfields that could house transport squadrons engaged in uplifting troops and materials, to and from Europe. During the first week of September 1945 two Polish manned squadrons arrived (Nos.301 and 304), equipped with Warwick aircraft, which had been converted to carry troops and equipment. Transport flights to Italy, Norway and Greece were performed regularly until April 1946. During hostilities 83 bombers were lost flying from Chedburgh , 71 being stirlings and the other 12 being lancasters. The station was handed over to the clearance party to rid it of all the equipment and stores, after which it was still held in reserve by the Air Ministry. Local farmers were given permission to cultivate the landing area, but the runways had to be kept clear. This continued to be the case until October 1952 when the entire site was sold. Today the technical site is used for various civilian businesses. Most of the perimeter track is still there, however, most of the runways were dug up to be used as hardcore.The majority of the rest of the bomber station has been returned to agriculture.

Source : Martin Alford (nephew of Donald Alford)

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