The construction of Wormingford Airfield was undertaken in 1943
by Costains. Standard length runways were constructed of 6,000
ft and 4,200ft.
The site had eight domestic outbuildings capable of housing 2,894
staff. Originally Wormingford was allocated to the 8th Air Force
as a heavy bomber base but it was temporarily loaned to the 9th
Air Force, 362nd Wing in the autumn of 1943 to house fighter aircraft.
By the end of November
1943, it had it full complement of
P-47 Thunderbolts and the first mission was undertaken on Feb
8th 1944. These
were used to escort Heavy Bombers over Europe.
The 362nd Wing didn't stay long as they
were moved to Headcorn during April 1945.
By this time the original requirement
of Wormingford was no longer viable as the B-24 Liberators destined
for the airfield had been transferred to Southern Italy. Subsequently
the 8th Air Force, 55th Group moved in on the 16th April 1944 with their
P-38/P51`s and remained until the end of the war
Wormingford was handed back to the RAF
on Oct 10th 1945 and was used by RAF Transport Command for maintenance
duties, in particular removing camouflage paint from Dakotas. With the
reduction in work, the field finally closed in Jan 1947.
During the 1950`s the airfield was used
once again by "Wood Ltd" of Colchester for the companies Aero
Commander executive jet.
By 1962, the hangars and buildings were
auctioned of and the land returned to farming. The St Ives Sand and
Gravel company moved in during 1964/65 and demolished the main runways
in their quest for hardcore for the upgraded A12 trunk road.
Finally in 1992, the Suffolk and Essex Gliding Club from Whatfield,
near Hadleigh moved in and made it their headquarters. At the same time
a memorial to the 362nd fighter group was erected by the main road opposite
B-17 Flying Fortress
This was the first site of a heavy
bomber airfield to be built in Essex. Work was carried out by
contractors W. French.The runways were of standard length, 6,000
and 4,200ft. with outbuildings sufficient to house 2,570 personnel
RAF Earls Colne subsequently opened in during August 1942, as
3 Group Bomber Command Station. Earls Colne had originally been
intended as an RAF bomber airfield. But, like many others, it
was allocated to the Americans once they entered the war. As such,
no RAF bombers were based there in those early days. Instead,
an RAF holding party of moved in as guards and caretakers for
the new airfield, knowing that it had been allocated to the US
8th Air Force.
The holding party remained until the US 8th Air Force officially
moved in during May 1943
Even before construction was completed
it was handed over to the USAAF on June 4th 1942. .
Apart from the occasional emergency
landing it was left vacant until May 1943 when the Flying Fortresses
(B-17s) of the US 8th Air Force, 94th Bomb Group arrived.
The B-17s were four-engine, high-altitude heavy bombers.
However their stay was brief, the
8th 323 Bomb ?Group Medium moving the B-17s into Suffolk in June
1943 in an exchange of bases with groups of smaller, twin-engine
B-26 Marauders. With D-Day approaching, the medium-altitude B-26s
were tasked with attacking enemy airfields, railheads etc. in
France and Belgium. Consequently the B-17s (Flying Fortresses)
were transferred to Rougham, near Bury St Edmunds.
The day of their transfer, June
13th, the B-17s set off from Earls Colne on a bombing mission,
only to be pounced on by German fighter planes over the North
Sea on their return leg to Rougham. Nine B-17s + 90 crewmen were
Earls Colne then became home to
B-26 Marauders of 323rd Bomb Group in preparation for D-Day. Their
control transferred from the US 8th to the US 9th Air Force, 323rd
Bomb Group in October 1943.
Soon after D-Day, on July 21st 1944,
the 323rd Bomb Group moved out of Earls Colne to Beaulieu in Hampshire
to follow up the invasion. Earls Colne was then idle until September
when it was handed to the RAF with 296 and 297 squadrons operating with
Albemarle and Halifax aircraft. These participated in the airborne operations
in the low countries during March 1945. The squadrons were part of the
RAF's No 38 Group, which made Marks Hall its HQ (the USAAF having moved
All the squadrons in 38 Group (including those at other airfields in
the area) were involved in troop-carrying tasks - particularly by towing
gliders full of soldiers, as at the Rhine crossing (Operation Varsity)
in March 1945.
The Earls Colne squadrons also dropped agents and supplies to resistance
fighters in occupied Europe. They were never used by the RAF for bombing.
RAF Earls Colne subsequently opened
in during August 1942, as 3 Group Bomber Command Station
94th Bomb Group (Heavy), US 8th
Air Force (May to June 1943) - B17 Flying Fortress
323rd Bomb Group (Medium), US 8th Air Force (July 1943 - October 1943)
- B26 Marauder
323rd Bomb Group (Medium), US 9th Air Force (October 1943 - July 1944)
296 and 297 Sqn RAF (September 1944 - 1946) Flying Albemarle and later
These two squadrons remained at Earls
Colne until 1946 when the airfield became vacant. It was put up for
auction in 1965 and purchased by Eric Hobbs for farmland.
The St Ives Sand and Gravel company moved in during 1965/67 and demolished
the main runways in their quest for hardcore for the upgraded A12 trunk
In 1990 planning permission was granted
to restore the site to an airfield and a golf course. Today the airfield
is still flourishing with numerous light aircraft and engineering works