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Military site : airfield

Built during 1941-42 as an RAF bomber station, Ridgewell operated as a satellite to RAF Stradishall until May 1943. It had three concrete runways, initially 36 pan hardstandings, and two dispersed T2 hangars. Taken over by the Eighth Air Force in June 1943 as home to the 381st Bomb Group, equipped with B-17s, the hardstandings were increased to 50 pans and five loops. The 381st Bomb Group flew a total of 296 missions and lost 131 B-17s while based at Ridgewell, although at least two specially-named B-17s 'Rotherhithe’s Revenge' and 'Stage Door Canteen' each completed over 100 missions. After the 381st Bomb Group left in June 1945, the station was handed back to the RAF and used as a Maintenance Unit munitions store until 1957. Although most of the site has since been sold, demolished and returned to agriculture, MOD retained the hangars as an extra storage facility for the USAFE at Wethersfield and Alconbury until the early 1990s. A small, private collection of SWW memorabilia is currently displayed in and around the old Hospital building by the Ridgewell Airfield Commemorative Association. Essex Gliding Club is also now based at Ridgewell Airfield, which is all-grass and limited to glider & glider-tug flights only.

Detailed history

Not yet known

English Heritage's record description

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  • Charles Ackerman

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 381st Bomb Group
    KIS 23 April 1945 on excursion flight to Ireland. 31 men were picked to go on one-week vacation to Belfast, Ireland. Crashed into 2,000- foot peak on Isle of Man.

  • Joe Alexander

    Military | Major | Pilot | 381st Bomb Group
    Pilot, Alexander crew. 381st BG, 532nd BS, 8th AF. Shot down 25 July 1943 in B-17 #42-30153 "Worry Wart". Mission #12 to the Focke-Wulf factory at Hamburg. MACR 131. Flak damaged, vibrating violently over the English Channel, turned 180 degrees back to...

  • Roger Allen

    Military | Corporal | 381st Bomb Group
    Corporal, 381st BG, 533rd BS, 8th AF. KIS 23 June 1943 when bombs loaded into B-17 #42-30024 "Caroline" exploded. 23 members of the 533rd BS were killed. Buried in the Brookwood Cemetery. Reinterred at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery with 9...

  • Lloyd Aman

    Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | Ball Turret Gunner | 381st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 534BS, 381BG, 8AF USAAF. Shot down on his first bombing run to Germany on 17-Oct-44 in B-17 42-31550 with the John E. Rice Jr crew. Force-landed in liberated Belgium. Back to England, he and the crew flew 34 more bombing missions. ...

  • Athen Anagnos

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 381st Bomb Group
    Navigator, Nason crew. 381st BG, 533d BS, 8th AF. Shot down by fighters on mission #59 to the aircraft factories at Oschersleben, Germany on 11 Jan 1944 in B-17F #42-37719 'Hellcat/Dinah Mite'. Plane crashed in Zuider Zee. MACR 1881. Killed in Action...

  • Charles Anderson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 381st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 534BS, 381BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Berlin in B-17 42-97214 'Carolina Queen'; Collided with another aircraft 24-May-44. Killed in Action (KIA). MACR 5181 Awards: PH.

  • Dean Anderson

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 381st Bomb Group
    Entered service December 1944. Shot down 14 February 1945. Returned to service at Ridgewell. Flew approximately 22 combat missions. Returned to US 4/25/45. Achieved rank of 1st Lt during WWII service. Served in AF Reserves, achieved rank of LtCol.

  • Erling Anderson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist gunner | 381st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 532BS, 381BG, 8AF USAAF. Reseigh crew. 30 x combat missions. 14-Oct-44 both pilots wounded by flak burst directly above cockpit in B-17 42-102703 'Pella Tulip'. RTD. ETD Awards: AM, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Robert Anderson

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 381st Bomb Group
    Navigator, Steele crew. 381st BG, 533rd BS, 8th AF. Shot down by FW 190s on return from mission #62 to the marshalling yards at Brunswick, Germany on 30 Jan 1944 in B-17F #42-29761 'Martha II'. MACR 2244. He had glass in is eyes from the exploding nose...

  • Robert Anderson

    Military | Sergeant | 381st Bomb Group
    "Sgt. Robert H. Anderson, of Thaxton, Virginia, a member of the 7th Station Complement Squadron was accidentally shot in the left chest about 1630 hours and died in the Station hospital a few minutes later. The shot was fired by Sgt. Martin L. Miller,...

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  • 41-24500 Annie Freeze

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Ogden 7/8/42; force landed Billings, MT 27/4/42 with Henry Blomquist; Scott 15/10/42; Presque Is 19/2/43; Assigned 535BS/381BG [MS-Y] Ridgewell, Ex. 27/5/43 ANNIE FREEZE; ...

  • 41-9019 Li'l Skunk Face

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 414BS/97BG 3/42 as LI'L SKUNKFACE; transferred 305BG Grafton Underwood 6/11/42; 381BG Ridgewell 11/6/43; 327BS/92BG Bovingdon [UX-V] 10/7/43 as target tug; 482BG Alconbury 27/8/43 for operations; with Gene Smith in landing accident at Deopham...

  • 41-9043 Peggy D/ Little Rock-ette

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 342BS/97BG Polebrook 3/42 PEGGY D on co-pilot’s side; with Capt Bill Musselwhite on 1st 8AF mission 17/8/42; 92BG Bovingdon /9/42; transferred 534BS/381BG [GD-A1] Ridgewell 7/43 as hack & tow target; to 2SAD 21/8/43 and ret 24/8/43 used to...

  • 42-102423 My Devotion

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 2/3/44; Kearney 14/4/44; Grenier 29/4/44; Assigned 533BS/381BG [VP-Q] Ridgewell 21/5/44; detailed Allach, Ger. 28/6/44 with Leon O’Dell,Tail gunner: Bill Bursaw (Killed in Action); Missing in Action 24+m Munich 31/7/44 with Jack...

  • 42-102512

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 10/3/44; Gr Island 31/3/44; Dow Fd 21/4/44; Assigned 368BS/306BG [BO-A] Thurleigh 5/5/44; landing accident with Ned Erne 1/1/45; transferred 534BS/381BG Ridgewell 5/45; 100+m, Returned to the USA Bradley 10/6/44; 4168 Base Unit,...

  • 42-102578

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 16/3/44; Hunter 8/4/44; Dow Fd 29/4/44; Assigned 398BG Nuthampstead 30/4/44; transferred 367BS/306BG [GY-D] Thurleigh 18/5/44; 532BS/381BG Ridgewell 5/45; 100+m, Returned to the USA Bradley 10/6/45; 4168 Base Unit, South Plains,...

  • 42-102585 'The Betty L'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 16/3/44; Kearney 1/4/44; Dow Fd 8/4/44; Assigned 534BS/381BG [GD-A] Ridgewell 24/4/44; Missing in Action 12m Tours 24/6/44 with Vic Romasco, Navigator: Jim Chandler, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Elbert Giddens,Tail gunner:...

  • 42-102590 In Like Errol

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 17/3/44; Gr Island 10/4/44; Dow Fd 29/4/44; Assigned 535BS/381BG [MS-M] Ridgewell 22/5/44; Missing in Action 91m Bremen 30/3/45 with Bob Bennett, Navigator: Paul Cawley, tog-Elbert Holt, Radio Operator: Bob Mumper, Ball turret gunner...

  • 42-102656 Carol Leigh

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 23/3/44; Hunter 17/4/44; Grenier 30/4/44; Assigned 534BS/381BG [GD-L] Ridgewell 21/5/44; after `70+m` transferred 327BS/92BG [UX- ] Podington 10/5/45; then,Sal 9AF Germany 10/12/45. CAROL LEIGH.

  • 42-102663 Yardbird

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 24/3/44; Kearney 15/4/44; Grenier 29/4/44; Assigned 533BS/381BG [VP-U] Ridgewell 21/5/44; Missing in Action 23m Peenemunde with Frank O'Black, Co-pilot: Bob Karch, Navigator: Francis Treanor, Bombardier: Herb Higginbotham, Flight...

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Date Contributor Update
30 September 2019 12:15:08 Emily Changes to name

Removed 'England' from station name

Date Contributor Update
22 October 2018 11:05:03 Lucy May Changes to person associations and aircraft associations

Restored connections to people and aircraft records.

Date Contributor Update
16 April 2018 04:03:04 ARowe95 Changes to name, latitude, longitude and person associations


Date Contributor Update
26 April 2017 10:26:27 Lucy May Changes to aircraft associations

Connected aircraft records that have 'Ridgewell' in their biography fields.

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2015 17:56:08 llaforgia Changes to aircraft associations

LaForgia family records.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:02:18 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)