The RAF in Suffolk

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If you take a ten mile radius of Martlesham Heath then you will see that this area has provided some of the most important military sites the UK has built over the decades/centuries

1> Martlesham itself testing almost evrerything that flew from land from 1917 until 1939 and then becoming a fighter base for both the RAF and USAAF. Parachute development also took place here, Blind Landing Experimental Unit and other key experiments conducted

2> Felixstowe became the equivalent to MH but earlier from its RNAS days test flyinfg almost every conceivable flying boat and Sea Plane. Plus having a significant role in WWII with 'The Little Ships' of Dunkirk, and the Air Sea Rescue Services not forgetting to mention HMS Beehive. Landguard Fort goes even further back in time 1667 when its garrison defended and beat off an attack by Dutch Forces.

3> Shotley and HMS Ganges and the Royal Hospital School at nearby Holbrook played a leading role in training and accomodating youngsters who all had a connection with the sea. A trip to Shotley Church Naval Cemeteries brings it all so very close to home.

4> Harwich Navyard goes back even further in time to The Kinges Navee which provided a safe haven [Harwich Haven Authority] for shipping ver the centuries with a very large flotilla during WWI & WWII, The Redoubt from Napoleonic days is still very much intact too, this provided firepower cover across the River Stour to Landguard Fort. Barrage Balloons and Submarine nets were also in place during WWII

5> Ipswich Airport was a satellite airfield to RAF Wattisham and the first aerial raid of WWII was conducted from here by Blenhaim aircraft

6> Roughs Towers now known as The Principality of Sealand], just about comes into this area being 6 miles off the Suffolk/Essex Coast in the North Sea, this was an important gun platform for the shipping approaches to our local estuaries and to London and the Thames area. Several incoming V-Rockets were destroyed from this platform by Anti Aircraft Ack-Ack] fire

7> Kingsfleet was a safe haven for the Kinges Navee  in 1338 of Edward III's reign where they sailed in the battle and capture of Crecy and Calais, nearby Walton once had a Roman Castle, the stump of one base tower can still be seen at low tide

8> Much has been written about Bawdsey in its role in the final phase of RADAR development having moved from nearby Orfordness. Along with the Hurricane and Spitfire aircraft that defended our skies during the Battle of Britain, RADAR played a huge part in this period.Later it became part of CH [Chain Home] Command followed by a Radio School and Missile base. Today the Manor is home to an International School, nearby East Lane had a defensive barrier protecting Bawdsey

9> RAF Trimley Heath worked in conjunction with Bawdsey

10> RAF Sutton Heath/Woodbridge this became one of the crash landing 'dromes for damaged aircraft  returning from Europe with a huge runway both in length and width, there were less than a handful of such crash 'dromes in the UK during WWII. This later was used for various development trials including FIDO [Fog Dispersal] The USAAF took over from the RAF in the 1950's as one of their Fighter Bases/Recovery units

11> Bent'waters was to my knowledge solely used by the USAF

12> Parham & Debach were both USAAF bases during WWII and Darsham High Street was used as a CH Command RADAR Station

13> Orfordness was used by just about every force and Government Body in the UK, I think as this is such a large topic the best thing to do is to point the reader to this http://www.century20war.co.uk/page10.html

E&OE There may well be others within 10 miles radius of MH if you know of any please let us know

 

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For all those interested in the USAAF and 'The Mighty Eighth a new forum has started here

http://www.m8mb.preller.us/

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