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Tibenham

Military site : airfield

Tibenham was built in 1941-1942 by W and C French Ltd with a standard 2,000 yard main runway, and two other runways both 1,400 feet in length. Accommodation was provided for a full USAAF heavy bomber group in dispersed sites. Personnel of the 320th Bomb Group moved in briefly before the airfield was occupied full time by a combat unit from November 1943: the 445th Bomb Group. This unit flew over 250 missions from the airfield. The film star James Stewart was one of the 445th’s squadron commanders while at Tibenham. The airfield was handed back to the RAF after the war, and sold in 1964-1965.

The airfield is still used today, by the Norfolk Gliding Club. They have a large archive of photos and documents from the 445th BG (H). At its core are four very thick Lever Arch files, one for each squadron. To enquire about viewing this excellent archive of 445th Bomb Group material, please contact the Club: http://www.norfolkglidingclub.com/contact-us/

Detailed history

The 445th Bomb Group (H), flying the B-24 Liberator, flew 280 combat missions between 13 Dec 43 and 25 Apr 45. Two notable missions were 1. the attack on the German Me-110 aircraft factory in Gotha on 24 Mar 44 (midway through 'Operation Big Week' - the destruction of the German Air Force). Through a timing error (11 minutes early) the 445th failed to connect with their fighter escort. They pushed on, enduring two and a half hours of determined fighter attacks and flak, but at the loss of 13 of their 25 aircraft.

Six months later, the 445th was almost wiped out when, on 27 Sept 44, they set out to bomb the Henschel facility in Kassel, Germany. Through a gross error in leadership and navigation, the 445th left the main bomber stream and their fighter escort, and proceeded north of Kassel to bomb the western edge of the town of Göttingen, some 25 miles NE of Kassel. After coming off the target, the 445th was subjected to a swarm attack of approximately 150 Luftwaffe fighters - some 100 Fw-190's and 50 Bf-109G's. In a line-abreast climbing attack coming from the rear, the fighters slashed through the formation. In a period of less than 6 minutes, 25 of the 35 B-24's had gone down in flames; the sky dotted with parachutes of both American and German air crews that were shot down. Of the remaining 10 aircraft, 3 crash-landed behind friendly lines on the Continent; 2 landed at the emergency strip by the Dover coast (Manston); 1 crashed near Old Buckenham (453rd Bomb Group); and the remaining 4 planes landed back at Tibenham. Of those 4 planes, only 1 was able to make the same mission back to Kassel on 28 Sept 44 along with the 9 remaining planes left at Tibenham.

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known

Service

Units

People

  • William Adair

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Wounded in action. Killed in civilian flying accident in NM in 1969. PH

  • John Allen

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24 Pilot | 445th Bomb Group
    B-24 - #42-7554 - 8th AF, 445th BG, 702nd BS - stationed in NOV 1943 at RAF Tibenham. ...

  • Julius Angelo

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Shot down 12 September 1944 in B-24 #4295247. Dixie Flyer Killed in Action (KIA) AM w/ 2 Oak Leaf Cluster/ PH

  • Edward Bald

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) crashed near Hanau in B-24 #4410493

  • Herman Barnes

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Nose Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) 24 February 1945. In this 2nd Air Division newsletter there is an account of what happened on 24 Feb 1945 from Stephen Bolcar, one of the crew: http://www.heritageleague.org/files/2007iii-Fall-Winter.pdf

  • Wade Barrios

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Shot down 8 May 1944 in B-24 #4294957. Killed in Action (KIA). PH

  • A Beckham

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Shot down 13 April 1944 in B-24 #4129132 'Tenovus. ' Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • William Beggs

    Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator | 445th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) 16 August 1944 in B-24 #4252447 'Dixie Flyer AM, PH

  • Harry Berger

    Military | Technical Sergeant (2nd Grade) | Flight Engineer | 445th Bomb Group
    Born in 1921; used to say that he was the "old guy" in his unit.. ...

  • Edward Berthold

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 445th Bomb Group
    35 missions in 80 days from May 15 to July 31, 1944, including one on D-Day over St Lo. He completed his last three missions as a Pilot.

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Aircraft

  • 41-28666 'Dixie DuDrop'

    B-24 Liberator
    Assigned 458BG re-assigned to 703BS, 445BG, 8AF USAAF as a replacement aircraft. Failed to Return (FTR) mission to Friedrickshafen left formation under control on reciprocal course, hit by 3 x Fw190 fighters causing fire in bomb bay, most of crew baled...

  • 41-28922 Texas Rose

    B-24 Liberator

  • 41-29117 Lady Marie

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24 "LADY MARIE" SHOT DOWN OVER GERMANY ON 24 FEB 1944 ...

  • 41-29132 Tenovus

    B-24 Liberator

  • 42-110029

    B-24 Liberator
    On 1 April 1944, B-24 42-110029 was shot down by enemy aircraft. Of its 10-man crew, five evaded, three were taken as Prisoners of War and two were Missing in Action.

  • 42-50324

    B-24 Liberator

  • 42-50325

    B-24 Liberator

  • 42-50334

    B-24 Liberator

  • 42-50383

    B-24 Liberator

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Revisions

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2017 09:57:34 Lucy May Changes to description
Sources

Correspondence with Rob Edwards: https://www.americanairmuseum.com/user/33120

Date Contributor Update
27 July 2017 20:43:25 Rob in Norwich Changes to history
Sources

Rob Edwards; corrected misspelling of 'Buckingham' to 'Buckenham'

Date Contributor Update
24 June 2015 20:38:37 usafdo Changes to media associations
Sources

A. L. DESTRO II

Date Contributor Update
24 June 2015 20:37:53 usafdo Changes to media associations
Sources

A. L. DESTRO II

Date Contributor Update
24 June 2015 20:36:30 usafdo Changes to media associations
Sources

A. L. DESTRO II

Date Contributor Update
30 March 2015 19:07:20 B24Mike Changes to usaaf from date and usaaf to date
Sources

Source document: 2nd Air Division Mission Report obtained from the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, AL.

Date Contributor Update
30 March 2015 18:48:16 B24Mike Changes to history
Sources

Source document: 2nd Air Division Mission Report obtained from the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, AL.

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

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

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