RAF Thorpe Abbotts

Royal Air Force station Thorpe Abbotts or more simply RAF Thorpe Abbotts is a former Royal Air Force station located 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Diss, Norfolk, England.

RAF Thorpe Abbotts
USAAF Station 139
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom
Eighth Air Force - Emblem (World War II)
Diss, Norfolk, England
Thorpe Abbots Airfield - 13 November 1946
RAF Thorpe Abbotts is located in Norfolk
RAF Thorpe Abbotts
Coordinates52°23′N 1°13′E / 52.38°N 1.22°E
TypeRoyal Air Force station
Site information
OwnerAir Ministry
Controlled byUS Army Air Corps Hap Arnold Wings.svg United States Army Air Forces
 Royal Air Force
Site history
Built byJohn Laing & Son Ltd.
In use1943-1956
Battles/warsEuropean Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
Garrison information
GarrisonEighth Air Force - Emblem (World War II).png Eighth Air Force
Occupants100thbombgroup-emblem.jpg 100th Bombardment Group
Tail of a 100ARW Boeing KC-135A-BN Stratotanker, Serial 58-0100, displaying the crest of RAF Mildenhall and the historic "Square-D" badge as used by the unit during the second world war


RAF Thorpe Abbotts was built during 1942 and early 1943 for the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a satellite airfield for RAF Horham but the rapid buildup of the Eighth Air Force resulted in both airfields being handed over to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). The thirty-six hardstandings originally planned were increased to fifty. Two T-2 hangars were erected, one on the east side of the flying field and one on the south side adjacent to the technical site. This and several of the domestic sites were in woodland stretching south and bordering the A143 Diss to Harleston road.[1]

United States Army Air Forces use

Thorpe Abbotts was given USAAF designation Station 139,[2] (TA).[3]

100th Bombardment Group (Heavy)

The 100th Bombardment Group (Heavy) arrived at Thorpe Abbotts on 9 June 1943, from Kearney AAF Nebraska. The 100th was assigned to the 13th Combat Bombardment Wing, and the group tail code was a "Square-D".[4] Its operational squadrons were:[4]

The group flew the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress as part of the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign. In combat, the 100th operated chiefly as a strategic bombardment organization until the war ended.[5] The group gained the nickname "The Bloody Hundredth" due to its heavy losses during eight missions to Germany when the group experienced several instances where it lost a dozen or more aircraft on a single mission, whereas most units suffered losses in consistent small amounts.[1]

From June 1943 to January 1944, the 100th Bomb Group concentrated its efforts against airfields in France and naval facilities and industries in France and Germany. The 100th BG received a Distinguished Unit Citation for seriously disrupting German fighter plane production with an attack on an aircraft factory at Regensburg on 17 August 1943.[5] One memorable raid on 10 October 1943, that the 100th BG made on Münster, ended up with the only surviving 100th BG B-17 that went out on the raid, the Royal Flush (B-17 42-6087) commanded that day by Robert Rosenthal and flown by his regular crew, returning safely on just two working engines and both waist gunners seriously wounded, to Thorpe Abbotts.[6]

The unit bombed airfields, industries, marshalling yards, and missile sites in western Europe, January – May 1944. Operations in this period included participation in the Allied campaign against enemy aircraft factories during "Big Week", 20 – 25 February 1944. The group completed a series of attacks against Berlin in March 1944 and received a second Distinguished Unit Citation for the missions.[7]

Beginning in the summer of 1944, oil installations became major targets. In addition to strategic operations, the group engaged in support and interdictory missions, hitting bridges and gun positions in support of the Invasion of Normandy in June 1944. The unit bombed enemy positions at Saint-Lô in July and at Brest in August and September Other missions were striking transportation and ground defences in the drive against the Siegfried Line, October – December 1944; attacking marshalling yards, defended villages, and communications in the Ardennes sector during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – January 1945; and covering the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945.[7]

The 100th Bomb Group received the French Croix de guerre with Palm for attacking heavily defended installations in Germany and for dropping supplies to French Forces of the Interior, June – December 1944.[7]

The 100 BG flew its last combat mission of World War II on 10 April 1945 which was number 306.[1]

In December 1945, the group returned to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Group personnel were demobilized and the aircraft sent to storage. The unit was inactivated on 21 December 1945 and redesignated as the 100th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy).[7]

Postwar use

Thorpe Abbotts Control Tower
The Control Tower which now forms part the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum

After the war, the airfield was transferred to the RAF on 27 June 1946. After many years of inactivity, Thorpe Abbotts was closed in 1956.[1]

Current use

With the end of military control, the airfield was largely returned to agricultural use with most of the perimeter track, runways and hardstands removed. A small airstrip was built on a part of the former perimeter track which is used for light aircraft.[1] The control tower was restored in 1977 and was turned into the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum. Several World War II era buildings remain in various states of decay.[8]

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.


  1. ^ a b c d e Freeman 2001, p. 217.
  2. ^ "Thorpe Abbotts". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Thorpe Abbotts Airfield". Control Towers. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  4. ^ a b "100th Bombardment Group (Heavy)". Mighty 8th Cross-Reference. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  5. ^ a b Maurer 1980, p. 171.
  6. ^ "Black Week (October 8-14, 1943) - Munster - 10 Oct 1943". 100thbg.com. 100th Bomb Group (Heavy) Foundation. Retrieved 8 October 2018. A/C 42-6087 "ROYAL FLUSH" 418TH LD-Z - LT ROBERT ROSENTHAL - P[ilot] - CPT -- FLEW 52 MISSIONS - The only crew to return from the mission with two engines shot out and two crew members seriously wounded.
  7. ^ a b c d Maurer 1980, p. 172.
  8. ^ "History". The 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum. Retrieved 20 February 2013.


  • Freeman, R. Airfields of the Eighth - Then and Now. After the Battle. London, UK: Battle of Britain International Ltd., 2001. ISBN 0-9009-13-09-6.
  • Maurer, M. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. USAF Historical Division. Washington D.C., USA: Zenger Publishing Co., Inc, 1980. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.

External links

100th Air Refueling Wing

The 100th Air Refueling Wing (100 ARW) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Third Air Force, United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa. It is stationed at RAF Mildenhall, England. It is also the host wing at RAF Mildenhall.

The 100 ARW is the only permanent U.S. air refueling wing in the European theater.

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 100th Bombardment Group (Heavy), was an Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress unit in England, stationed at RAF Thorpe Abbotts. Flying over 300 combat missions, the group earned two Distinguished Unit Citations (Regensburg, 17 August 1943; Berlin, 4/6/8 March 1944). The group suffered tremendous losses in combat, with 177 Aircraft MIA, flying its last mission on 20 April 1945.

One of the wing's honors is that it is the only modern USAF operational wing allowed to display on its assigned aircraft the tail code (Square-D) of its World War II predecessor.

100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum

The 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, located in the original control tower and other remaining buildings of the RAF Thorpe Abbotts airfield east of Diss in Norfolk is dedicated to the American soldiers and members of the US 8th Air Force who fought with the Allies in Norfolk in World War II. The area also became known as the "Fields of Little America" due to the number of Americans stationed there.

The entire former control tower is now museum space that highlights documents, photographs, uniforms and service equipment, plus a recreation of the original teleprinter room. The museum's collection includes a number of maps and other war-related artefacts from World War II's effects on the soldiers stationed there and how the group eventually came to be called the "Bloody Hundredth".

The roof of the control tower is known as the glasshouse, from where the remaining airstrips are visible. It remains as it was when the airfield was operational with the addition of a model of the airbase in the 1940s.

349th Air Refueling Squadron

The 349th Air Refueling Squadron is part of the 22d Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. It operates the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft conducting aerial refueling missions.

350th Air Refueling Squadron

The 350th Air Refueling Squadron is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. It operates Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft conducting air refueling missions.

351st Air Refueling Squadron

The 351st Air Refueling Squadron is part of the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England. It operates the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft conducting air refueling missions.

418th Flight Test Squadron

The 418th Flight Test Squadron is a United States Air Force squadron. It is assigned to the 412th Operations Group, Air Force Materiel Command, stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

The first predecessor of the squadron was activated during World War II as a heavy bomber unit. It served in combat in the European Theater of Operations, where it earned a Distinguished Unit Citation and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for its actions. After V-E Day the squadron returned to the United States and was inactivated at the Port of Embarkation.

The squadron was briefly active in the reserve from 1947 to 1949, but does not appear to have been fully equipped or manned. It served from 1959 to 1962 as a Boeing B-47 Stratojet squadron in Strategic Air Command.

The second predecessor of the squadron was activated in 1989 as the 6518th Test Squadron. The two squadrons were consolidated in 1992 as the 418th Test Squadron and have served in the flight test role.

Air battle over the Ore Mountains

The air battle over the Ore Mountains (German: Luftschlacht über dem Erzgebirge) took place around midday on 11 September 1944 between German and American air forces over the crest of the Ore Mountains near the village of Oberwiesenthal, above the Bohemian market town of Schmiedeberg (today Kovářská in the Czech republic).

B-17 Flying Fortress units of the United States Army Air Forces

This is a list of United States Army Air Forces B-17 Flying Fortress units of the United States Army Air Forces including variants and other historical information. Heavy bomber training organizations primarily under II Bomber Command in the United States and non-combat units are not included.

The B-17 Flying Fortress was perhaps the most well-known American heavy bomber of the Second World War (1939/41-1945), . It achieved a fame far beyond that of its more-numerous contemporary, the Consolidated B-24 Liberator. The first pre-production Y1B-17 Fortress was delivered to the 2d Bombardment Group, Langley Field, Virginia on 11 January 1936; the first production B-17B was delivered on 29 March 1939 also to the 2nd Bombardment Group. A total of 12,677 production Fortresses was built before production came to an end. In August 1944, the Boeing B-17 equipped no less than 33 overseas combat groups.

The last Boeing-built B-17G was delivered to the USAAF on 13 April 1945. Following the end of World War II, the Flying Fortress was rapidly withdrawn from USAAF service, being replaced by the B-29 Superfortress. Literally thousands of Fortresses used in combat in Europe by Eighth or Fifteenth Air Force or in the United States by II Bomber Command training units were flown to various disposal units. A few were sold to private owners, but the vast majority were cut up for scrap

Aircraft in the final early 1945 production manufacturing block by Boeing or Lockheed-Vega (Block 110) were converted to the B-17H search and rescue model, being modified to carry a lifeboat under the fuselage. Postwar B-17s were used by the Military Air Transport Service Air Rescue Service, in 1948 being re-designated SB-17G. Some RB-17Gs were also used by the MATS Air Photographic and Charting Service (APCS). A few SB-17s were used by the Air Rescue Service in Japan during the Korean War (1950–1953), but all of the postwar B-17s were retired from MATS by the mid-1950s, becoming Air Proving Ground Command QB-17 Drones or DB-17 Drone directors. The drones were operated primarily by the 3205th Drone Group, Eglin AFB, Florida.

The last operational USAF B-17 mission was on 6 August 1959, when DB-17P 44-83684 (Originally a Douglas/Long Beach B-17G-90-DL) directed QB-17G 44-83717 which was expended as a target for an AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missile fired from an F-101 Voodoo, near Holloman AFB, New Mexico. 44-83684 arrived at Davis-Monthan AFB for storage a few days later. The few DB-17P remaining operational drone controllers remaining on Air Force rolls afterward were transferred to various museums in 1960.

Beirne Lay Jr.

Beirne Lay Jr., (September 1, 1909 – May 26, 1982) was an American author, aviation writer, Hollywood screenwriter, and combat veteran of World War II with the U.S. Army Air Forces. He is best known for his collaboration with Sy Bartlett in authoring the novel Twelve O'Clock High and adapting it into a major film.

David Tallichet

David Compton Tallichet Jr. (December 20, 1922 – October 31, 2007) was a United States businessman, noted as the father of the themed restaurant although his first themed restaurant was preceded by several well-known restaurants with the same theme. He also owned scores of classic military aircraft.


Diss is an English market town and electoral ward in the East Anglian county of Norfolk, near the border with Suffolk. It had a population of 7,572 in 2011. Diss railway station is on the Great Eastern Main Line from London to Norwich. The town lies in the valley of the River Waveney, round a mere covering 6 acres (2.4 ha) and up to 18 feet (5.5 m) deep, although there is another 51 feet (16 m) of mud.

Eighth Air Force

The Eighth Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) (8 AF) is a numbered air force (NAF) of the United States Air Force's Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). It is headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. The command serves as Air Forces Strategic – Global Strike, one of the air components of United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). The Eighth Air Force includes the heart of America's heavy bomber force: the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, the B-1 Lancer supersonic bomber, and the B-52 Stratofortress heavy bomber aircraft.

Established on 22 February 1944 by the redesignation of VIII Bomber Command at RAF Daws Hill in High Wycombe, England, the Eighth Army Air Force (8 AAF) was a United States Army Air Forces combat air force in the European Theater of World War II (1939/41–1945), engaging in operations primarily in the Northern Europe area of responsibility; carrying out strategic bombing of enemy targets in France, the Low Countries, and Germany; and engaging in air-to-air fighter combat against enemy aircraft until the German capitulation in May 1945. It was the largest of the deployed combat Army Air Forces in numbers of personnel, aircraft, and equipment.

During the Cold War (1945–1991), 8 AF was one of three Numbered Air Forces of the United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command (SAC), with a three-star general headquartered at Westover AFB, Massachusetts commanding USAF strategic bombers and missiles on a global scale. Elements of 8 AF engaged in combat operations during the Korean War (1950–1953); Vietnam War (1961–1975), as well as Operation Desert Storm (1990–1991) over Iraq and occupied Kuwait in the First Persian Gulf War.

List of Norfolk airfields

This is a list of current or former military airfields within the English county of Norfolk, East Anglia. They may have been used by the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), Royal Air Force (RAF), Army Air Corps (AAC), Fleet Air Arm (FAA), United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) or the United States Air Force (USAF).

For a list of current RAF stations in the UK and abroad, see List of Royal Air Force stations and for former stations see List of former Royal Air Force stations.

List of air operations during the Battle of Europe

This World War II timeline of European Air Operations lists notable military events in the skies of the European Theater of Operations of World War II from the Invasion of Poland to Victory in Europe Day. The list includes combined arms operations, defensive anti-aircraft warfare, and encompasses areas within the territorial waters of belligerent European states.1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945

List of museums in Norfolk

This list of museums in Norfolk, England contains museums which are defined for this context as institutions (including nonprofit organizations, government entities, and private businesses) that collect and care for objects of cultural, artistic, scientific, or historical interest and make their collections or related exhibits available for public viewing. Also included are non-profit art galleries and university art galleries. Museums that exist only in cyberspace (i.e., virtual museums) are not included.

Many of these museums are members of Museums Norfolk (formerly the Museums in Norfolk Group). Museums Norfolk is the representative organisation for museums in the county, and its membership includes museums from both Norfolk County Council's Museums Service (NMS) and independent museums. Details of each member museum, opening times and events are given on its website www.museumsnorfolk.org.uk.

To use the sortable table, click on the icons at the top of each column to sort that column in alphabetical order; click again for reverse alphabetical order.

RAF Mildenhall

Royal Air Force Mildenhall, more commonly known as RAF Mildenhall, (IATA: MHZ, ICAO: EGUN) is a Royal Air Force (RAF) station located near Mildenhall in Suffolk, England.

Despite its status as a Royal Air Force station, it primarily supports United States Air Force (USAF) operations, and is currently the home of the 100th Air Refueling Wing (100 ARW).

On 8 January 2015, the United States Department of Defense announced that operations at RAF Mildenhall would end (along with those at RAF Molesworth and RAF Alconbury), and be relocated to Germany (Spangdahlem Air Base) and also elsewhere within the UK.On 18 January 2016, the British Ministry of Defence announced that the RAF Mildenhall would be closed as an airfield and the site to be sold. However, a change in presidential administrations in the United States, heightened security concerns on the part of the United States, the United Kingdom and NATO pertaining to Europe and the Middle East, and a variety of other issues have prompted a reassessment on RAF Mildenhall's closure. As of 2017, the closure process of RAF Mildenhall has been put on indefinite hold. As of December 2018, it is planned that USAF personnel will move from RAF Mildenhall to RAF Fairford by 2024 the earliest.

RAF Podington

Royal Air Force (RAF) Podington is a former Royal Air Force station in northern Bedfordshire, England, 6 miles (9.7 km) south-east of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.

Thorpe Abbotts

Thorpe Abbotts is a village within the civil parish of Brockdish (where the population is listed) in the English county of Norfolk. The village is 6.5 miles (10.5 km) east of Diss, 20.8 miles (33.5 km) south south west of Norwich and 106 miles (171 km) north east of London. The village lies .4 miles (0.64 km) north of the A143 Diss to Great Yarmouth road. The nearest railway station is at Diss for the Great Eastern Main Line which runs between Norwich and Liverpool Street station, London. The nearest airport is Norwich International Airport. The village, as part of the larger parish in the 2001 census, had a population of 605. For the purposes of local government, the parish falls within the district of South Norfolk.

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