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Military site : airfield

Detailed history

Runway: 12/30 - 5000x120feet/1670x45meters - PSP

Ophoven Airfield is an abandoned World War II military airfield which is located in the municipality of Opglabbeek (Limburg); approximately 54 miles northeast of Brussels.
The area was liberated on 15 September 1944 by the 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion of the 2nd US Armoured Division ('Hell on Wheels') and RAF engineers visited the selected airfield site shortly thereafter, possibly to start some work. The US 820th Engineer Aviation Battalion took its place on 24 November 1944 and started to construct the new airfield. The 852nd, 826th and 846th Engineer Aviation Battalions later assisted them throughout the next winter and spring. No. 6610 Service Echelon, RAF, provided further assistance for airfield servicing. The field was declared operational on 10 December 1944. The airfield was first used as a resupply and casualty evacuation airfield, with C-47 Skytrain transports flying in and out of the airfield frequently. After some indecisiveness, the airfield was assigned to the British with 125 Wing believed to be the first occupants in late December.

The RAF's 125 Wing spent time there from 31 December 1944 until 27 January 1945 as part of 83 Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force. It consisted of:
41 Squadron - RAF
130 (Punjab) Squadron - RAF
350 (Belgian) Squadron - RAF
610 (County of Chester) Squadron – AAF (Auxiliary Air Force, which is not RAF, nor Royal Auxiliary Air Force)
From late January it hosted 370 FG (P-47 Thunderbolts) and from February it also based 405FG (P-47 Thunderbolts).
Both units were tasked with disrupting German operations ahead of the beachhead, strafing anything german they encountered.
On 31 December 1944, 430 (Silver Falcon) Squadron RCAF of the Canadian 39 (Recce) Wing sent a detachment of 6 Spitfire FR XIV’s, 8 Pilots and photographic personnel from B.78 Eindhoven to Y.32 Ophoven. From there, this detachment had to carry out tactical reconnaissance sorties, in support of the XXX Corps mission to help drive back the enemy in the Ardennes.
In support of the Battle of the Bulge offensive, the Luftwaffe launched a series of attacks on Allied airfields and on 1 January 1945 thirty German aircraft attacked Y-32.
Heavy snowfall and ice often made the runways and taxiways at Y.32 unserviceable in early and mid-January 1945, so the Spitfires frequently diverted to the nearby USAAF airfield Y.29 Asch, and RAF Servicing Commandos were sent to Y.29 to service the aircraft.
The fighter units moved out at the end of April 1945. With the end of the war in Europe the airfield was closed and abandoned in May 1945. Today, nothing reminds of the airfield, which is now partly agricultural field and an industrial area.

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known




  • Oren Adams

    Military | First Lieutenant | fighter pilot | 370th Fighter Group

  • Malcolm Erickson

    Military | Captain | Fighter Pilot-1055 single engine | 405th Fighter Group
    On 23 March, 1945, P47's of the 9th Air Force, including the 405th FG, were involved in attacks near Schermbeck, Dinslaken, Borken, Sudlohn Germ. Most likely, these attacks were in preparation of the Allied attack across the Rhine river that would...

  • Ralph Jenkins

    Military | Colonel | Fighter pilot, squadron commander | 405th Fighter Group
    Ralph C. Jenkins: Was a 25 year old Flight Commander flying Thunderbolt fighters in the 510th Squadron, 405th Group 9th Air Force. Became Squadron Commander and flew 129 combat missions beginning on D-Day Normandy. After airfield estabished in...



Date Contributor Update
10 September 2016 02:47:02 466thHistorian Created entry with name, number, latitude, longitude, usaaf from date, usaaf to date, construction date, closure date and history