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Military site : airfield

RAF Debden, construction of which began in 1935, is perhaps most famous as a Battle of Britain fighter airfield, partly responsible for the defence of London in 1940. In 1942 it was also home to three RAF 'Eagle Squadrons’ of volunteer American pilots. When the base was handed over to the Americans in 1942, the Eagle Squadrons transferred to the USAAF, becoming the 4th Fighter Group. Equipped first with Spitfires, then P-47 Thunderbolts, the Group occupied Debden until July 1945. The airfield continued to be used after the war by the RAF, and from 1975 was occupied by the British Army.

Detailed history

Grover Hall said this about Debden in the forward to '1000 Destroyed', “No it wasn’t all bad, not at all. In fact, I suspect that we’re all enduringly sentimental over Debden and always will be. By King George’s lisp, darned if I wouldn’t like to catch the 12:50 at Liverpool Street Station and chuff down to see the old place!”

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known



  • 33rd Service Group
  • 4th Fighter Group

    4th Fighter Group

    Some of the pilots of the 4th Fighter Group had seen many hours of combat by the time they joined the 4th Fighter Group as they had volunteered with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. The three 'Eagle Squadrons' of RAF Fighter...

  • 18th Weather Squadron

    18th Weather Squadron

    Browse 18th Weather Squadron photographs and other documents in the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library digital archive here:

  • 24th Station Complement Squadron
  • 334th Fighter Squadron

    334th Fighter Squadron

    The 334th Fighter Squadron was the successor to No. 71 Eagle squadron of the Royal Air Force when the 4th Fighter Group was activated on 12 September 1942. They were based at Debden Field, Essex. The "Fighting Eagles" as they were called, flew...

  • 335th Fighter Squadron

    335th Fighter Squadron

    The 335th Fighter Squadron was the offspring of No. 121 (Eagle) Squadron RAF. Formed on 21 May 1941, No. 121 was the second of the three Eagle Squadrons composed of American volunteers flying out of England. They were known as the "Chiefs" and were...

  • 336th Fighter Squadron

    336th Fighter Squadron

    The 336th Fighter Squadron was constituted by the War Department on 22 august 1942, and was activated at Bushey Hall, England, on 12 September. It had been designated as No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron, and was made up of American volunteers to the Royal Air...

  • 45th Service Squadron
  • Headquarters & Headquarters Squadron (33rd Service Group)
  • No. 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    No. 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    'On 19 September 1940, No. 71 was reformed at Church Fenton as the first 'Eagle' Squadron to be manned by American personnel. The Squadron received Hurricanes in November and became operational on defensive duties on 5 February 1941. No. 71 converted...


  • Anthony Abiuso

    Military | Corporal (Technician Fifth Grade) | Truck Driver, Light | 438th Air Service Group
    Transferred to 2119th EAFFP, 8 April 1944

  • Norman Achen

    Military | First Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Hit by Flak whilst strafing a ground target in P-51 43-6882, performed a belly landing in the vicinity of Lake Zwischenahner. Last contacted by radio. POW. 15-Aug-44. MACR 8147.

  • George Acker

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ground Personnel

  • Robert Ackerly

    Military | Major | Fighter Pilot
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. ...

  • Warren Adams

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Crew Chief

  • Dale Aebersold

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ground Personnel
    Dale Aebersold served with the 335th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group as Ground Personnel.

  • Joseph Alderese

    Military | Sergeant | Ground Personnel

  • John Alexander

    Military | Pilot Officer | Pilot
    Joined RAFVR, service pilot training in US, shipped overseas to ETO, operational training at OTU, assigned to 71S, Bf109 damaged shared 15-5-41, Hurricane Mk I damaged friendly fire !! [John Flynn] 15-5-41.

  • Richard Alexander

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 52nd Fighter Group
    He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in October 1940, and was awarded his pilot wings on September 15, 1941, joining the 133 Eagle Squadron in England. Alexander was credited with destroying 1 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus 1 probable, before...

  • Carl Alfred

    Military | Captain | Fighter Pilot
    Carl was from Atwater, Ohio, and was assigned to the 4th Fighter Group, 336th Squadron from 12 July 1944 to 16 April 1945. While strafing Praha Airfield in Czechoslovakia his plane was hit by flak, went into a shallow dive, and exploded upon impact. ...

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  • 41-6194 'Death Takes a Holiday'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred 53FS, 36FG, 9AF USAAF.

  • 42-103287

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) strafing mission to Rouen area, made 3 passes to strafe a truck convoy over a grass airfield and was shot down by flak on 6-Jun-44. Pilot Lt Harold H Fredericks evaded capture and was returned...

  • 42-103292

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Struck ground during strafing run, regained a little altitude, pouring black smoke from the engine before exploding, pilot Lt Leon J Cole Jr KIA. MACR 5572.

  • 42-103332

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) bombing mission to Rouen area. A/C hit by flak in engine attempting to bomb train in ravine, engine oil spilling from nose to tail. A/C abandoned Lyons area. Pilot 1st Lt Oscar Lajeunesse baled...

  • 42-103561

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. A/C hit by Flak at 26,000ft over Aachen. Turned for home, forced to bailout 12 miles SW of Antwerp. Pilot Lt Lester B Godwin evaded capture, EVD. 20-Jul-44. MACR 6849.

  • 42-103609

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Signalled flight his intention to RTB, turned for home, not seen after. Shot down in Ostend area. Pilot Lt Carroll McElroy POW. 31-May-44. MACR 5670.

  • 42-103791

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Whilst on mission to provide top cover for 335FS, section were bounced by Bf109's. A/C received multiple hits and caught fire, forcing pilot to bail out. Pilot 2nd Lt Dean Lange wounded in left arm by cannon fire,...

  • 42-103796

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) strafing mission to Strausberg 28-Aug-44. Pilot 1st Lt Ferris Harris KIA. MACR 8301.

  • 42-106429 'Judy IV'

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to return, shot down in combat with Bf109, crashed near Hamburg 24-May-44. Pilot 2nd Lt Harry E Jennings KIA MACR 5287.

  • 42-106438

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Lost 19-Jul-44 on bomber escort to Munich, suffered glycol leak, aborted and forced landed at Ems, Switzerland pilot Lt Curtis Simpson Interned. A/C was subsequently dismantled by Swiss air force mechanics and...

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Date Contributor Update
12 December 2017 20:50:52 Al_Skiff Changes to person associations

Added connection to Marvin H Castleberry

Date Contributor Update
06 June 2016 13:44:48 Wex_AdamSterecki Changes to usaaf from date and usaaf to date

Date Contributor Update
15 May 2016 22:29:00 WD-C Mustang Changes to history

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:02:16 AAM AAM ingest

Barry Anderson, Army Air Forces Stations (Alabama, 1985) / Roger Freeman, Airfields of the Eighth Then And Now (London, 1978)