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Bomber Command badge

Source : Bob Bennett, son of Sgt Robert Bennett Sr.

The Memorial is located on the site of the former Oulton airfield. Oulton started life as one of the hastily acquired satellite landing grounds on which aircraft from a main station could be dispersed to lessen the risk of loss through air attack. In this case the main station was Horsham St Faith.

The site to the east of the B 1149 Norwich to Holt road,which lay largely in the parish of Oulton Street, had been requisitioned earlier that year and the majority of the aircrews were initially accommodated in civilian property, including the historic Blickling Hall.

No. 114 conducted its operations from Oulton until March 1941 when it was sent to Thornaby to aid Coastal Command, seven of the squadron's Blenheims failing to return from operations while at the airfield.

No. 2 Group then moved No. 18 Squadron's Blenheims to Oulton from Great Massingham in April 1941 and out to Horsham St Faith in July. No. 18 returned in November for a few weeks before returning once more to Horsham St Faith.

In December, No. 139 Squadron appeared with Lockheed Hudsons on which it trained before being shipped to the Far East. The Hudsons lingered on at Oulton for a while in the hands of No. 1428 Flight that had been formed to provide conversion training.

During the summer of 1942, Oulton was loaned to Coastal Command, which placed a Beaufighter shipping strike squadron No. 236 on the station, which arrived in July, and stayed until September, when No. 2 Group transferred in the Bostons of No. 88 Squadron from Attlebridge. On the last day of October, a 250 pound high explosive bomb that had failed to release from a Boston during a sortie, exploded while being removed killing six ground crew . Only limited operations were undertaken during the winter of 1942-43 as the squadron was hampered by a shortage of aircraft. It was moved to Swanton Morley in March and its place at Oulton taken by No. 21 Squadron, which had to move from Methwold when that station was returned to No. 3 Group.

No. 21 conducted operations from Oulton until September by which time No. 2 Group came under the Second Tactical Air Force. No. 2 Group's airfields in Norfolk were then transferred to No. 3 Group control, Oulton being one although it never received any of that group's squadrons.

In September 1942, work began on bringing the airfield up to Class A standard. This involved closing the Oulton Street to Cawston road across which the main runway was extended. The three runways were 12-30 at 2,000 yards and 07-25 and 17-35, both 1,400 yards long. The hardstanding consisted of 32 loop type and 11 pans. Three of the pans put down in earlier years on the south side near the old railway line were isolated and another four incorporated in the new bomb dump off the north-west side between runway heads 12 and 17. Two T2 hangars were on the technical site on the east side between runway heads 25 an 30 near Oulton Street. Another T2 was located between runway heads 30 and 35, and a fourth T2 north of runway head 12 near the Manor House. Two of these T2s were for housing gliders.

Prestige & Co Ltd were involved in the construction of buildings. The early camp was around Blickling Hall where there were four domestic sites, but additional sites - three domestic, a communal and sick quarters - were located nearer the east side of the airfield. Total accommodation was provided for 1,782 personnel male and female.

Oulton was re-opened in May 1944 under No. 100 Group, No. 214 Squadron was moved in from Sculthorpe, which was closing for major reconstruction. No. 214 was one of the few RAF squadrons equipped with Fortress aircraft, this type chosen for its deep bomb-bay capable of taking special equipment necessary for radio counter-measure operations, and for a while the squadron tutored a USAAF provisional squadron at Oulton in this role.

In August 1944 No. 223 Squadron re-formed at Oulton to fly Liberators with Mandrel electronic detection equipment, and thereafter both squadrons continued RCM activities until the end of the war. A total of 56 Bomber Command aircraft were lost flying in operations from Oulton: 34 Blenheims, two Bostons, a Ventura, 16 Fortresses and three Liberators. No. 100 Group's presence at Oulton came to an end in late July 1945 when both the resident squadrons were disbanded. Later that year the station came under No. 274 Maintenance Unit's administration and was another site for the collection of surplus Mosquitos. By 1948 the RAF had departed and the road between Cawston and Oulton Street was reopened. As with most old raf stations, much of the land was reclaimed for agriculture, however, the runways remained and were used for locating poultry houses.

Source : Martin Alford (nephew of Donald Alford)

Blickling Hall

Click on this link to see an album contains 30 photographs of Blickling Hall - last updated 29 July 2010

Source : Pictures kindly provided by Shaun Broaders and John Edwards

Sketch of Blickling Hall in July 1945 by Flt Lt Charles Herbert Halford

Source : Ed Halford (son of Fg/Off Charles Herbert Halford)

Sketch of Blickling Hall Gardens in June 1945 by Flt Lt Charles Herbert Halford

Source : Ed Halford (son of Fg/Off Charles Herbert Halford)

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