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North Pickenham

Military site : airfield

Built comparatively late during 1943-44 as an Eighth Air Force bomber base, North Pickenham was rather cramped as an airfield site so the main runway was shorter than typical. It had three concrete runways, 50 loop hardstandings and two dispersed T2 hangars. This station was first occupied by the 'hard luck’ 492nd Bomb Group from May to August 1944, operating B-24s, which was withdrawn from combat after losing 51 aircraft to enemy action during 64 missions. It was replaced by the highly successful 491st Bomb Group, also equipped with B-24s, which remained at North Pickenham until August 1945. The station was then used for a variety of purposes by the RAF and USAFE from 1945 to 1965, most notably as a Douglas Thor IRBM site during 1958-63, and as a Hawker Siddeley P1127 Kestrel trials airfield during 1964-65. It has since reverted mostly to agriculture plus turkey farming, a wind farm and light industry.

Detailed history

Not yet known

English Heritage's record description

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  • William Adams

    Military | Sergeant | Togglier / Nose Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 854BS, 491BG, 8AF USAAF. 1 x combat mission. ...

  • Thomas Alexander

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 491st Bomb Group
    Thomas Alexander’s older brother, Marston Alexander Jr, born in 1917, died in October 1929. Thomas enlisted in the Air Corps and was trained as a pilot. Sent overseas, he was assigned to the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was on...

  • Earl Alleman

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    Prisoner of War (POW) Shot down near Soest on 9/26/44 in B-24 #4410500

  • David Allen

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Flight engineer / Top turret | 491st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 852BS, 491BG, 8AF USAAF. 30 x combat missions. Crashed, exploded and burned 5-Jan-45 in assembly ship B-24 44-40165 'Rage in Heaven' near Swaffham after taking off in a snowstorm to lead the assembly of the group. Killed in Action (KIA) ...

  • George Aschinger

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-pilot | 491st Bomb Group
    Post war George Aschinger was owner of G. Aschinger & Son Electric, Streator and served as president of Streator Chamber of Commerce. He died 12 October 1993 in Illinois. Awards: AM (4OLC), WWII Victory, EAME (1 x Battle Star).

  • Elmore Austin

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 854BS, 491BG, 8AF USAAF. 1 x combat missions. Failed to Return (FTR) Hanover in B-24 42-110107 "Wham Bam Thank You Ma'm" 24-Aug-44; bailed out of A/C, captured and held overnight at Munster A/D. ...

  • William Austin

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Flight Engineer/Gunner | 492nd Bomb Group (Heavy)
    B-24 flight engineer for 492nd Bomb Group, 856th Bomb Squadron and 8th air force. Shot down 4 August 1944 in A/C #42-50770. Interned in Sweden. He was predeceased by his 12 siblings and wife, Inga-Lisa, who he met whilst in Sweden.

  • Benjamin Babitz

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 467th Bomb Group
    Transferred 467th BG

  • Robert Baker

    Military | Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 491st Bomb Group
    Shot down near Soest in B-24 #44-10500, Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Haynes Baumgardner

    Military | Pilot | 491st Bomb Group
    Haynes Baumgardner served as a B-24 pilot in the 491st Bomb Group. He flew a supply mission on Sept. 18, 1944 in support of Operation Market Garden. After dropping a load of supplies from tree top level to troops on the ground, his group headed home....

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  • 41-28884 Problem Child

    B-24 Liberator

  • 41-29470

    B-24 Liberator
    On its first mission as an 856th BS plane, it was lent to the 857th BS and was shot down by flak. 23 Jun 44: Lost with Monroe Crew R-01, shot down by flak over Brussels, Belgium. 8 KIA, 2 POW, MACR 6242

  • 42-110091 Bold Venture

    B-24 Liberator
    The deputy lead ship of the 453rd BG was shot up by the Luftwaffe. Assumption is that the pilots were immediately killed, since the plane began flying aimlessly by itself. It veered into the path of the 492nd. Either Lt Cary of Bold Venture didn't see...

  • 42-110107 "Wham Bam Thank You Ma'm"

    B-24 Liberator
    Assigned to 854BS, 491BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Hanover mission; downed by flak over Russelheim, Germany, on 24-Aug-44. 3 x POW, 6 x KIA. MACR 8296 ...

  • 42-110151 Alvin

    B-24 Liberator
    This aircraft was shot up over Germany by GAF. Immediately 2 gunners were KIA and another WIA. The crew helped the wounded man bail out. As the fire aboard spread out of control, the order to abandon ship was given. Only 3 more made it out before the...

  • 42-110152 The Lady Will

    B-24 Liberator
    The 856th BS lost all of their planes while en route to their target. How many of them made an attempt to reach Sweden is unknown. Although Sweden was a mere 20 minutes from the air battle, only two of the shot-up Liberators made it there. Some of the...

  • 42-110153

    B-24 Liberator
    Shot up over Germany, dropped out of formation and was never seen again. 10 KIA, MACR 5240

  • 42-5910 Hell-Cat Ruthie Homesick Angel '

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Long Beach 5/5/43; Denver 11/5/43; Dow Fd 31/5/43; Assigned 326BS/92BG [JW-N] Alconbury 6/6/43 RUTHIE; transferred 365BS/305BG [XK-N] Chelveston HELL-CAT 10/6/43; then 422BS [JJ-Z/N]; 858BS/8AFCC Cheddington 26/6/44; battle damaged Romilly 15...

  • 42-7563 'Hells Warrior'

    B-24 Liberator
    Assigned to 701BS, 445BG, 8th AF. Transfered to the 859BS, 492BG and modified for use in Carpetbagger missions. After August 1944 the 492nd Bomb Group was used as a cover for special operations missions in Europe, such as supply drops to Underground...

  • 42-95177

    B-24 Liberator

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Date Contributor Update
25 August 2016 15:26:00 White Knight Changes to known as, usaaf from date, usaaf to date, construction date and closure date

The 492nd and 491st Bomb Groups in Norfolk Peter Bodle, Liberator Publishing.

Date Contributor Update
01 April 2016 02:22:08 Cebby Changes to media associations

Harold W. Burdekin Records

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:02:17 AAM AAM ingest

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

Roger Freeman, Mighty Eighth War Manual (2nd edn, London, 2001)

Michael Bowyer, Action Stations 1: Wartime Military Airfields of East Anglia 1939-1945 (Cambridge, 1979)

Owen Thetford, Aircraft of the Royal Air Force since 1918 (London, 1979)