Bassingbourn

Airfield
Aerial photograph of Bassingbourn airfield looking east, Whaddon is at the top, the bomb dump is to the left of the main runway, which runs vertically; the control tower and technical site with four C-Type hangars is on the right, 23 August 1945. Photograph taken by No. 542 Squadron, sortie number RAF/106G/UK/692. English Heritage (RAF Photography).

Object Number - RAF_106G_UK_692_RS_4173 - Aerial photograph of Bassingbourn airfield looking east, Whaddon is at the top, the bomb dump is to the left of the main runway, which runs...

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.

Connections

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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.

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 324th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Navigator
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 401st Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Radio Operator
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 322nd Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Ball Turret Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 401st Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 35742208
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: waist gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 324th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Top Turret Gunner

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Stric Nine
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 323rd Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 324th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Shooting Star
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 323rd Bomb Squadron

Revisions

Date3 Aug 2020 05:41:27
ContributorThreeB
Sources

correction

Date3 Aug 2020 05:40:46
ContributorThreeB
Sources

Nose art recognized.

Date3 Sep 2019 11:16:50
ContributorEmily
Sources

Historic England National Monument Record TL 34 NW 65

Date4 Oct 2016 13:07:06
ContributorLucy May
Sources

Connected aircraft records from information in their records.

Date27 Sep 2014 18:02:16
ContributorAAM
Sources

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

Bassingbourn: Gallery (612 items)