Tibenham

Airfield
Signal Squares on the airfield at Tibenham, B-24 Liberators of the 398th Bomb Group are visible in the background. Handwritten caption on reverse: 'Tibenham Signal Squares.'

Object Number - FRE 1725 - Signal Squares on the airfield at Tibenham, B-24 Liberators of the 398th Bomb Group are visible in the background. Handwritten caption on reverse:...

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/

Connections

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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

A former World War Two military airfield on the site of a World War One military airfield. In the First World War an area of the later airfield was said to have been used as a landing ground. The rebuilt later airfield opened in 1942 and closed in 1959. The airfield consisted of three concrete runways, with aircraft hangars (Type T2 and Blister designs), a control tower (demolished in 1978) and other technical buildings on the eastern side of the flying field. On the north- west side there were bomb stores, ammunition dump and fuel store. To the south-west there were firing butts. There was a dispersed military camp for 2,900 personnel to the east away from the main flying field. During World War Two the United States Army 8th Air Force 320th and 445th Bomb Groups used the airfield, the latter in particular sustaining heavy casualties. One of the Squadron Commanders for the 455th was the actor James Stewart. The airfield was designated as USAAF Station 124. After the war the airfield was transferred to the Air Ministry. In 1955 the main runway was lengthened for jet aircraft but was never actually used for this purpose. At the start of the 21st century it is used by a gliding club who have a clubhouse at the airfield.

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 445th Bomb Group 702nd Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 31341437
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: waist gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 445th Bomb Group 701st Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 37583567
  • Highest Rank: Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Tail Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 445th Bomb Group 702nd Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Radio Operator
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 445th Bomb Group 703rd Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Bombardier
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 445th Bomb Group 701st Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 14136043
  • Highest Rank: Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Radio Operator

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: Dixie DuDrop
  • Unit: 445th Bomb Group 458th Bomb Group 703rd Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: Texas Rose
  • Unit: 445th Bomb Group 701st Bomb Squadron 703rd Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: Lady Marie
  • Unit: 2nd Combat Bomb Wing 445th Bomb Group 702nd Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: Nine Yanks and a Jerk
  • Unit: 445th Bomb Group 703rd Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: Tenovus
  • Unit: 445th Bomb Group 703rd Bomb Squadron

Revisions

Date11 Apr 2021 05:08:29
ContributorBigTex
Sources

P Fagerquist

Date3 Sep 2019 12:55:26
ContributorEmily
Sources

Historic England National Monument Record TM 18 NW 38

Date30 Aug 2017 09:57:34
ContributorLucy May
Sources

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

Date27 Jul 2017 20:43:25
ContributorRob in Norwich
Sources

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

Date24 Jun 2015 20:38:37
Contributorusafdo
Sources

A. L. DESTRO II

Date24 Jun 2015 20:37:53
Contributorusafdo
Sources

A. L. DESTRO II

Date24 Jun 2015 20:36:30
Contributorusafdo
Sources

A. L. DESTRO II

Date30 Mar 2015 19:07:20
ContributorB24Mike
Sources

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

Date30 Mar 2015 18:48:16
ContributorB24Mike
Sources

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

Date27 Sep 2014 18:02:18
ContributorAAM
Sources

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

Tibenham: Gallery (96 items)