Earls Colne

Airfield
Aerial photograph of Earls Colne airfield, looking south west, Earls Colne village is bottom right, 29 February 1944. Photograph taken by 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, sortie number US/7PH/GP/LOC186. English Heritage (USAAF Photography).

Object Number - US_7PH_GP_LOC186_V_5048 - Aerial photograph of Earls Colne airfield, looking south west, Earls Colne village is bottom right, 29 February 1944. Photograph taken by 7th...

Earls Colne was built in 1941 as an airfield for No.3 Group, RAF Bomber Command, although never used as such. Assigned to the US Eighth Air Force (as Station 358) in 1942, its 36 hardstands were increased to 50, bringing the airfield up to Air Ministry 'Class A’ standard.

Part of the site occupied land requisitioned from the Marks Hall estate, whose Jacobean mansion was taken over by various USAAF HQ units in December 1942.

Earls Colne’s first operational tenants were B-17Fs of the Eighth Air Force's 94th Bomb Group in May 1943. Its four squadrons moved to Rougham, Suffolk, on 13 June, having lost nine bombers that day during a mission to Kiel.

The following month, B-26 Marauder ‘medium’ bombers of the 323rd Bomb Group moved in, staying at Earls Colne until July 1944 – having transferred to the US Ninth Air Force on October 16, 1943.

Meanwhile, Marks Hall had operated independently, first as headquarters for the Eighth AF’s 4th Bomb Wing. In October 1943 it became the command and control centre of the Ninth AF’s IX Bomber Command, at which point Earls Colne airfield became the headquarters of the 98th Combat Bomb Wing while continuing to host the 323rd Bomb Group.

After the Americans left for France in the summer of 1944, the RAF’s 296 and 297 Squadrons, flying Halifax aircraft in army co-operation roles, occupied Earls Colne until May 1946.

Today the site includes an industrial park, golf course, leisure centre and an airstrip used by a flying school. It is also home to the Essex Air Ambulance.

Connections

See how this entry relates to other items in the archive by exploring the connections below.

English Heritage's Record Description

A former World War Two military airfield, now used for civil light aircraft. The military airfield was established in 1942 but did not become active until 1943. It was provided with three concrete and tarmac runways and two type T2 aircraft hangars. During World War Two, it was used both by the Royal Air Force and by the 9th United States Army Air Force. The airfield was designated by the Americans as station 358. Earls Colne was home to both Bomber and fighter units, later also transport aircraft. In 2000-2001 the former military airfield area was reported as being partly in use for light aircraft, partly used as Earls Colne Business Park, also a golf course, sports centre and for agriculture. Part of the perimeter track, hangars are said to have survived to 2001. The control tower was demolished in 2003.

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 453rd Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 12038354
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Aerial Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 93rd Bomb Group
  • Service Numbers: 17135620 / O-?
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Role/Job: Co-Pilot / Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 312th Air Service Group 453rd Sub-Depot 94th Bomb Group 711th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 16023579
  • Highest Rank: Senior Master Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Maintenance Sergeant
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 453rd Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 6979275
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Radio operator
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 453rd Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 20802695
  • Highest Rank: Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Flight Engineer; Gunner

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-26 Marauder
  • Nicknames: Bat-Outa-Hell II
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 455th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-26 Marauder
  • Nicknames: Five Aces / Smokey Joe
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 456th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-26 Marauder
  • Nicknames: City of Sherman
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 456th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-26 Marauder
  • Nicknames: Circle Jerk Louisiana Mud Hen
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 453rd Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-26 Marauder
  • Nicknames: Flounder Gus/Cant Get Started/Texas Tiff
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 454th Bomb Squadron

Revisions

Date3 Sep 2019 12:41:39
ContributorEmily
Sources

Historic England, National Monument Record TL 82 NW 39

Date13 Jun 2019 10:52:09
ContributorSavvyGA
Sources

Clarification

Date13 Jun 2019 10:49:49
ContributorSavvyGA
Sources

Air Force Combat Units of World War II – Maurer (19839

Date10 Mar 2017 09:11:12
ContributorSavvyGA
Sources

Added Kiel mission of June 13, 1943

Date8 Mar 2017 17:09:08
ContributorSavvyGA
Sources

Added modern usage details.

Date7 Jan 2017 14:13:14
ContributorSavvyGA
Sources

Freeman (various titles);
Marks Hall archives

Date7 Jan 2017 08:38:44
ContributorSavvyGA
Sources

Marks Hall archives;
USAAF unit summaries (Maurer)

Date5 Jan 2017 16:56:43
ContributorSavvyGA
Sources

Grammar

Date5 Jan 2017 16:55:22
ContributorSavvyGA
Sources

Grammar amndd.

Date5 Jan 2017 16:54:11
ContributorSavvyGA
Sources

Grammar amended

Date5 Jan 2017 16:53:05
ContributorSavvyGA
Sources

Amended grammar

Date5 Jan 2017 16:49:11
ContributorSavvyGA
Sources

Revised with data from Freeman (various); Maurer; Marks Hall 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)

Earls Colne: Gallery (61 items)