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Bassingbourn

Military site : airfield

Now home to a museum all about the aifield and its USAAF residents (http://www.towermuseumbassingbourn.co.uk/) , Bassingbourn opened in 1938 as part of the RAF's pre-war expansion programme. The RAF continued to use it until late in 1942 when its long-term wartime residents were to pitch up. It is still unclear whether the 91st Bomb Group were ordered to set up shop at Bassingbourn after leaving Kimbolton in October 1942 or whether their group Commanding Officer, Colonel Stanley Wray, decided that the permanent, centrally-heated air base was the best accommodation to be had in the area. The Group were to stay their until June 1945. Gen. Eisenhower visited the 91st at Bassingbourn on 11 April 1944.

Detailed history

Not yet known

English Heritage's record description

A former military airfield, now an army base used for infantry training. The airfield was opened in 1938. From 1938 to September 1942 it was a Royal Air Force Operational Bomber Command Station; it was the base for 35, 98, 104, 108, 215 Squadrons, mainly flying Wellington bombers. The base was used in some of the Royal Air Forces early "1000 bomber raids". After expansion of concrete and tarmac runways and hard standing areas in October 1942 it became a "flagship" United States Army Air Force station. The 91st Bomber Group of the 8th Air Force was stationed there, including the famous B17-Flying Fortress aircraft "Memphis Belle". The original wartime film (not the 1990 remake) was shot at Bassingbourn. By December 1944 there were 2972 personnel at the base, in permanent accommodation, and the airfield was equipped with four type C hangars. The base also had a range of specialised buildings and a control tower. The airfield had a system of ground and perimeter defences. The crash site of a B-17 of the 91st flying from Bassingbourn has been found about 5 miles away at Foxton. From June 1945 to June 1949, the airfield was used once more by the Royal Air Force (units of Transport Command flying Liberator and York aircraft). from 1950 to 1953 both Royal Air Force and American units continued to use the base, though from 1951 it was under USAFE command. The Royal Air Force continued to use the base until 1969, when the airfield was closed and subsequently transferred to British Army use. Because it is used by the army, there is restricted access to the base.

Service

Units

  • 1st Combat Bomb Wing
  • 1st Bomb Wing

    1st Bomb Wing

    Wing
    The First Bomb Wing arrived in the UK in July 1942. The wing command became the 1st Bomb Division in August 1943, while the wing was retitled the 1st Combat Bomb Wing.

  • 441st Sub-Depot
  • 94th Bomb Group

    94th Bomb Group

    Group
    Activated 15 June 1942 at MacDill Field, Florida. Initial organization and training at Pendleton Field, Oregon on 29 June 1942; Primary flight training at Davis-Monthan Field in Arizona from 28 Aug. 42 to 31 Oct. 42; then at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas...

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    Group
    The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla...

  • 18th Weather Squadron

    18th Weather Squadron

    Squadron
    Browse 18th Weather Squadron photographs and other documents in the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library digital archive here: www.2ndair.org.uk/digitalarchive/Dashboard/Index/60

  • 1st Station Complement Squadron
  • 322nd Bomb Squadron
  • 323rd Bomb Squadron
  • 324th Bomb Squadron

    324th Bomb Squadron

    Squadron
    Home of the Memphis Belle

People

  • Robert Abb

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Flew 25 missions on 'Delta Rebel #2'

  • George Abbott

    Military | Lieutenant | Pilot | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Shot down by fighters and crashed at Ruehlow in B-17 Sleepytime Gal on 6/21/44 #42102527 Prisoner of War (POW) POW

  • Frank Adams

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Killed in Action (KIA) at Berlin in B-17 42-97632

  • Robert Ade

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Killed in Action (KIA). Shot down 17 April 1943 in B-17 41-24459 'Hellsapoppin. ' According to Havelaar, the target was the Focke Wulf aircraft factory. Fighters and flak were heavy and the 401st BS was hit especially hard.

  • Eugene Adkins

    Military | Major | Top turret guner / Engineer | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Assigned to 324BS, 91BG, 8AF USAAF. Native of Tennessee, served during WWII in the USAAC. In 1942, he was assigned as the top turret gunner aboard B-17 41-24485 'Memphis Belle', after Levy Dillion was transferred to another squadron. He would go on to...

  • Roy Adkins

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Shot down 31 December 1943 in B-17 42-29921 'Oklahoma Okie. ' Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Kirk Aldrich

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Shot down by fighters and crashed NE of Gardelegen, GR on a mission to Berlin on 6 Mar 1944 in B-17G #42-31079. Prisoner of War (POW) POW

  • George Alexander

    Military | Flight Officer | Navigator | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Navigator on plane 44-6596 'Sweet Dish'. Plane badly damaged during mission on 5 December 1944. Alexander and two other crew members bailed out and were captured. Rest of crew stayed on board and pilot was able to nurse aircraft back to base.

  • Harry Alexander

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    On 4 February 1944 on a mission to Frankfurt, B-17G #42-39771 'Jeannie Marie' was forced to land due to extensinve flak damage at Eindhoven, Holland. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Frank Alford

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Damaged by fighters on mission to Frankfurt on 29 Jan 1944 in B-17G #42-37987 'Man O War - Horsepower Ltd' managed to return to England on two engines and crashed near Sittingbourne, Kent when the third engine went out. RTD.

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Aircraft

  • 41-24399 Man O' War

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Bangor 13/7/42; with Earl Shaefer force landed Olmstead, PA 20/8/42; Assigned 323BS/91BG [OR-V] Bassingbourn 23/9/42; Missing in Action Kassel 30/7/43 with Keene McCammon, Co-pilot: John Bruce (2 Prisoner of War), Navigator: Bob Duggan,...

  • 41-24431 The Saint

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 401BS/91BG [LL-G] Bangor 27/8/42; Bassingbourn 11/10/42; detailed mechanical trip to Honington, Sfk. 16/2/43 but crashed on attempted t/o with Earl Riley, Co-pilot: Earl Dosier, Navigator: Roy Schwendiman, Bombardier: Edwin Bush, Flight...

  • 41-24432 Danellen

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24432 was assigned 401BS/91BG [LL-F] Denver Aug 42; Bassingbourn 1-Oct-42; Missing in Action Romilly-sur-Seine 11m 20-Dec-42 (9-man crew) 8KIA 1 POW MACR 5381. ...

  • 41-24439 Chief Sly

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24439 'Chief Sly' was delivered Dow Fd 2-Sep-42; Assigned 322BS/91BG [LG-Q] 6-Sep-42; Bassingbourn 29-Sep-42; battle damaged 20-Dec-42 on mission to bomb the German air depot at Romilly-sur-Seine, France. Crash-landed Parsonage Farm,...

  • 41-24447 Kickapoo

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 401BS/91BG [LL-H] Bangor 29-Aug-42; Bassingbourn 1-Oct-42; Missing in Action 11m Wilhelmshafen 26-Feb-44. Flak hit caused fire in #4, crashed North Sea. 10 Killed in Action, Missing Air Crew Report 4830. KICKAPOO. ...

  • 41-24449 Short Snorter

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24449 'Short Snorter' was assigned 401BS/91BG [LL-B] Bangor 31-Aug-42; Bassingbourn 1-Oct-42. On 20-Dec-43 the aircraft was damaged on the mission to Romilly, France with Capt William Harris, but limped back to base OK. 10RTD ...

  • 41-24451

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 401BS/91BG Bangor 29/8/42; en route from Gander, Nfd, to Bassingbourn with John McClean, Co-pilot: Capt Dale Lasselle, Navigator: Bob Allen, Bombardier: Leon Koebel, passengers Capt George Wassell {doc}, Bob Vaughan, John Gibson, Justin...

  • 41-24452

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24452 was assigned to 91BG/401BS at Bangor 29-Aug-42; Bassingbourn 1-Oct-42. Despatched on 20-Dec-42 to bomb the German air depot at Romilly, France. Enemy aircraft KO’d tailplane and the aircraft crashed near Rouen, France. 3KIA 7POW MACR...

  • 41-24453 Mizpah - The Bearded Lady, The Bearded Beauty

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 322BS/91BG [LG-O] Bangor 29/8/42; Bassingbourn 29/9/42; in taxi accident with John Hardin 18/11/42 at RNAS Yeovilton; MIZPAH - THE BEARDED LADY aka THE BEARDED BEAUTY. ...

  • 41-24459 Hellsapoppin

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 401BS/91BG [LL-B] Bangor 2/9/42; Bassingbourn 1/10/42; Missing in Action Bremen 17/4/43 with John Wilson, Waist gunner: Walt Bohaczyk, Ball turret gunner: Gil Andrews, Waist gunner: Cliff Cadle,Tail gunner: Bob Ade; (5 Killed in Action); Co...

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Revisions

Date Contributor Update
03 September 2019 11:16:50 Emily Changes to english heritage description
Sources

Historic England National Monument Record TL 34 NW 65

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2016 13:07:06 Lucy May Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

Connected aircraft records from information in their records.

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

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

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