RAF Great Dunmow
RAF Little Easton
USAAF Station AAF-164
Aerial photograph of Great Dunmow airfield 30 May 1944.
|Operator||United States Army Air Forces|
Royal Air Force
|Location||Bishops Stortford, Essex|
|Elevation AMSL||322 ft / 98 m|
Royal Air Force Station Great Dunmow or more simply RAF Great Dunmow is a former Royal Air Force station in the parish of Little Easton, Essex, England. The airfield is located approximately 1.4 miles (2.3 km) mi west of Great Dunmow, north of the A120; about 42 miles (68 km) northeast of London
Today the airfield is located on private land primarily used for agriculture.
Great Dunmow was designed as a Class A airfield bomber airfield, built by the US Army 818th Engineer Battalion (Aviation) with specialised work by British contractors.
The airfield was built on ancient parkland belonging to Easton Lodge and some 10,000 trees were destroyed to enable its construction, including over 200 mature oak trees. It consisted of a set of three converging runways each containing a concrete runway for takeoffs and landings, optimally placed at 60 degree angles to each other in a triangular pattern. The runways were a 6,000-foot-long (1,800 m) main runway, aligned 15/33 and two secondary 4,200-foot-long (1,300 m) secondary runways, aligned 11/29 and 04/22. An encircling perimeter track was also constructed, containing 50 loop-type hardstands.
United States Army Air Forces use
Great Dunmow airfield was opened on 1 July 1943 and was used by the United States Army Air Forces Eighth and Ninth Air Forces. It was known as USAAF Station AAF-164 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. It's USAAF Station Code was "GD".
USAAF Station Units assigned to RAF Great Dunmow were:
- 70th Service Group
- 380th Service Squadron; HHS 70th Service Group
- 20th Station Complement Squadron
- 21st Weather Squadron
- 39th Mobile Reclamation and Repair Squadron
- 40th Mobile Communications Squadron
Regular Army Station Units included:
- Quartermaster Depot Q_108
- 1577th Quartermaster Battalion
- 628th Quartermaster Battalion
- 1054th Quartermaster Company
- 1087th Signal Company
- 1176th Military Police Company
- 1769th Ordnance Supply & Maintenance Company
- 2057th Quartermaster Truck Company
- 2196th Quartermaster Truck Company
- 3215th Quartermaster Service Company
- 335th Quartermaster Depot Company
- 340th Quartermaster Depot Company
- 807th Chemical Company
- 2045th Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon
- 194th Medical Dispensary
386th Bombardment Group (Medium)
The first unit to use Great Dunmow was the American 386th Bombardment Group (Medium) which arrived from RAF Boxted on 24 September 1943. The group was assigned to the VIII Air Support Command 3d Bombardment Wing and flew Martin B-26B/C Marauders. Operational squadrons of the 322d were:
- 552d Bombardment Squadron (RG)
- 553d Bombardment Squadron (AN)
- 554th Bombardment Squadron (RU)
- 555th Bombardment Squadron (YA)
Missions of the 386th concentrated on airfields but also bombed marshalling yards and gun positions during the first months of combat.
On 2 October 1944, the 386th Bomb Group moved to Beaumont-sur-Oise (A-60) Airfield, in Normandy France. On the continent, the 386th BG used the following Advanced Landing Grounds:
- A-60 Beaumont-sur-Oise France 2 October 1944
- A-92 St Trond Belgium 9 April–July 1945
The airfield was abandoned in 1948.
With the end of military control in 1950 the grassed areas were cut for a grass meal company through the 1950s which supplied it to various farms in the region. Starting in 1960, farming operations commenced and the concrete areas were removed for aggregate in 1965/66 for use as part of the new A12 road.
Today, there is very little left except some single track agricultural roads remaining from the perimeter track and a blister hangar with a few nissen huts near Easton Lodge. The runway layout and the airfield perimeter track are easily identified in aerial photography, but no substantial amount of concrete remains. The 22 end of the secondary northeast runway does however, have a short full width of runway intact, being used for manure storage. The current owners, Land Securities hope to redevelop the site and surrounding area, including the construction of around 9,000 homes.
There is a small museum in Great Dunmow which holds some exhibits of the airfield and the 386th Bomb Group, along with a stained glass window memorial in Little Easton church.
- Easton Lodge Gardens: History Archived 29 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine Parks and Gardens UK, accessed 2010-12-17
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