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History of RAF Feltwell by Flying Officer P. Drewitt, B.A.
Article three in the RAF Feltwell Loop

This is one of four articles to be found in the FELTWELL CORONATION SOUVENIR from 1953. It was printed by George R. Oswell and Son, Caxton Works, 127a Norfolk Street, Kings Lynn and sold for 6d. The booklet is divided into 4 sections - The Aerodrome, The Churches, The School and The Parish - each written by a different author.

Feltwell's connection with aviation began more than thirty-five years ago, during World War 1, when No. 7 Training Depot Station was housed here. Thus Feltwell's original function was flying training as it is today. From March, 1937, however, when the present installations were built, until 1946, squadrons of Bomber Command were stationed here.

At first there was only one squadron, equipped with Harrows, but by the outbreak of World War 2, an additional squadron had been formed, and each was now equipped with Wellingtons. When Methwold airfield had been completed, one squadron operated from there and the other from Feltwell, both under No. 3 Group of Bomber Command. During 1940, the original squadrons were moved, and one of the new squadrons formed at Feltwell was manned by New Zealand personnel. These squadrons were in turn replaced in 1942 by New Zealand and Australian squadrons equipped with Ventura aircraft.

During the first eight months of the war, a desultory series of operations was made from Feltwell, and included sorties against enemy shipping and pamphlet dropping operations. One of the first sorties from Feltwell was in connection with the costly attack on the German Fleet in Schillig Roads and Wilhamshaven, from which only one Wellington of the despatched returned safely.

With the invasion of Norway, the scale of operations increased, and from April, 1940, both squadrons were making sorties on three or four nights a week. Thus Feltwell contributed to the increasing effort directed against Germany at home, culminating in the "Thousand Bomber" raids of May and June, 1942.

Meanwhile, Feltwell had a taste of its own medicine in the shape of a series of raids by enemy aircraft in February and March, 1941. The camp sustained little damage, apart from that to the Sergeant's mess, but several houses in the village of Feltwell were demolished, and families made homeless.

During the war the Station was visited by His Majesty the late King George VI on two occasions, on the second of which he was accompanied by his Queen.

In the last two years of the war, still under Bomber Command, a squadron at Feltwell was engaged on radio intelligence work, while at the end of 1943, No. 3 Lancaster Finishing School was formed here to convert aircrews who had been trained on Wellingtons to working in Lancaster aircraft. This work continued until January, 1945, when the end of the war was imminent. In the last phase at Feltwell under Bomber Command, navigators were trained in the use of a new long-range navigation device intended for use in the Pacific theatre of war.

Feltwell's connection with Bomber Command was severed in April, 1946, when the station was transferred to Flying Training Command to house the present unit, No. 3 Flying Training School, formerly at South Cerney.

So the wheel has turned full circle, and the present-day activities of this unit show the great strides that the science of aviation has made since Feltwell was the scene of early flying training over a third of a century ago.

Nowadays Feltwell Base is home to the American airforce.

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