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Stansted Mountfitchet

Military site : airfield

Today, Stansted is one of the busiest airports in Britain. During the Second World War, instead of airliners delivering passengers, Stansted Moutfitchet’s aircrews in their B-26 Marauders attacked Nazi targets, paving the way for D-Day and the liberation of Europe. Although very little remains of the original Station 169, when complete it was the largest Ninth Air Force base in East Anglia, covering some 3,000 acres.

The site of United States Army Air Forces Station 169 was chosen in 1942 from farmland in the parish of Stansted Mountfitchet, some 3km (2 miles) north east of the town of Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire, although the airfield was in Essex.
The station was built by the US 817th, 825th and 850th Engineer Battalions. It ultimately had three runways plus 50 aircraft hard-standings. Hangars, workshops, offices and accommodation for 2,658 personnel, mainly Nissen huts, were also built on site.

The airfield was constructed during 1942-43 for the US Eighth Air Force, but was transferred to the US Ninth Air Force as the base for No. 2 Tactical Air Depot. In 1944 the 344th Bomb Group moved in with their Martin B-26 Marauder twin-engine tactical bombers. This Group led attacks on D-Day, and won a Distinguished Unit Citation for its missions supporting the advancing Allied armies.

The 344th left Stansted for France in September 1944, but the base continued to be used as 2nd Tactical Air Depot, comprising the 30th and 91st Air Depot Groups. Its main focus was on the modification and overhaul of B-26 aircraft. Eventually this role too was transferred to France, leaving Stansted as a Base Air Depot Area airfield where combat aircraft were stored before they were assigned to Groups elsewhere in the UK. Only the main runway remained open all other concrete areas became parking places for aircraft.

The station was transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1945, where it was used by No. 263 Maintenance Unit for storage. In 1946 and 1947 part of the site was also used to house German prisoners of war. The base was handed over to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 1949 and used mainly as a civil charter airport, until enlarged and redeveloped by the US Air Force during 1954-1957 as a potential Cold War emergency base.

The 803rd Engineer Aviation Battalion extended the main runway to 3,048 m (10,000 ft), which remains the length of the runway at London Stansted Airport. A new parallel taxiway was built, which could be used as an alternative runway, and 11 hard-standings were added, potentially for use by large, jet bomber aircraft.

During 1958-1965, Stansted continued as civil charter airport and base for trooping flights. It was also used by Airwork as an aircraft maintenance base, and by Aviation Traders as a Carvair production base. In 1985, the Government approval granted for the development of Stansted as London’s third international Airport. It continues in this role, serving around 18 million passengers every year.

Detailed history

Not yet known

English Heritage's record description

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  • Robert Ahern

    Military | bomber (flight engineer and top turret gunner) | 344th Bomb Group

  • William Andrews

    Military | Captain | bomber pilot | 344th Bomb Group

  • George Bair

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 344th Bomb Group
    Killed in mid-air collision

  • Carl Chapman

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 344th Bomb Group
    Capt Carl F. Chapman Jr. attended North Georgia College in Dahlonega, Georgia. ...

  • Leo Fenster

    Military | Lieutenant | Bombardier-Navigator | 344th Bomb Group
    Fenster completed 65 missions over German Occupied Europe, surviving five crash landings during his tour of duty. He recalled his fifth crash was particularly bad: 'Of all the missions, I never incurred the volume and the intensity of ground fire we...

  • Everett Hanes

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 344th Bomb Group
    My Grandfather was a Navigator / Bombardier on a B-26 named "My Louisiana Baby". The plane was named after his first born son who was born two weeks after he was sent to Europe. He flew 19 missions at the very end of the war.

  • Harry Harvey

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator; Bombardier | 322nd Bomb Group
    21 Sept 1943 accident on landing in B26#41-31770. All returned. B-26 Marauder Lt Harvey was flying on went down on 28 May 1944 and he became a POW. He was liberated 29 April 1945.

  • John Havener

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Pilot | 344th Bomb Group
    Jack K Havener (1920–2011) flew B-26 Marauders with the 344th Bomb Group. He completed 68 combat missions in the medium bombers, many of them from Stansted. Among the medals awarded to Havener was the Distinguished Flying Cross – given to an American...

  • Thomas Johnson

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Pilot | 344th Bomb Group
    Growing up at the Spring Farm in Tilly Foster, Putnam County, New York, Thomas Johnson attended Brewster High School and received a B. S. degree in 1941 at Cornell University, where he was a member of the Round Up Club and of the varsity R. O. T. C....

  • George Kammermeyer

    Military | First Lieutenant | 344th Bomb Group

Show more


  • 42-95870 Maxwell House - Good to the Last Drop

    B-26 Marauder
    42-95870 was the personal Marauder of Col. Jewell C. Maxwell. Lost on the 20 April 1944 mission to bomb the V-weapon site at Ferme-Notre-Dame, near Muncq, Pas-de-Calais, France. ...

  • 42-95878 'Weary Lera'

    B-26 Marauder
    Assigned to 344BG, 9AF USAAF. Transferred to 1st Pathfinder Sqn, 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) bombing mission to Euskirchen railroad bridge in B-26 42-95878 'Weary Lera' shot down by flak while leading 322BG crashed in flames near Bonn, left...

  • 42-95920 Smilin Joy

    B-26 Marauder

  • 42-107573 Tom's Tantalizer

    B-26 Marauder
    42-107573 was the regular Marauder assigned and flown by Thomas F. Johnson of 344th Bomb Group / 494th Bomb Squadron (of which he became Commanding Officer)

  • 42-95987 Yo-Yo Champ

    B-26 Marauder
    B-26 Marauder serial number 42-95987 crashed on 24 April 1945, flying a mission from Dijon, France, where it was based with the 17th Bomb Group, to Schwabmunchen, Germany. ...

  • 42-95952 You've 'Ad It

    B-26 Marauder
    B-26 Marauder assigned to the 497th Bomb Squadron of the 344th Bomb Group.

  • 42-107662

    B-26 Marauder
    Assigned to 496BS, 344BG, 9AF USAAF.


Date Contributor Update
29 December 2016 16:50:44 SavvyGA Changes to description

Geographical clarification

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 Ninth Then And Now, (London, 1994)