Home to FeltwellTour Feltwell Today Tour Old Feltwell See Feltwell's History Read Feltwell's History RAF Feltwell Memorial Pages Special Photo Sets
Feltwell's Timeline
Historical InfoLoops Photo of the Month Feltwellians Worldwide Feltwell Links

RAF Feltwell - Personnel - memorial pages

Photo pages -> 

Recollections RAF Feltwell History RAF Feltwell Planes & Buildings 75 NZ Squadron

RAF STATION FELTWELL - The definitive history
Article one in the RAF Feltwell Loop

For an alternative, older and shorter version, click here (Article three in the loop)

The Station was opened on 12th March 1937 with an establishment of Station Headquarters and two 3 Group Bomber Squadrons (Nos. 37 and 214) equipped with Harrow aircraft.

Wing Commander L.H. Slatter, OBE, DSC, DFC was the Station Commander,

No. 214 moved in to Feltwell on 13 April 1937 and No. 37 was formed there (from No. 214) on 26 April 1937. The Commanding Officers of Nos. 37 and 214 were Wing Commanders H.V. Drew, OBE, AFC, and D.F. Luckling, respectively.

Another pre-war C.O. of No. 37 Squadron was Wing Commander F.J. Fogarty, DFC, AFC.

On 8 August 1939 Group Captain L.H. Slatter relinquished command of the Station to Group Captain C.O.Y. Modin, DSC.

Both squadrons were re-equipped with Wellingtons 1A just prior to the outbreak of war. No. 37 was working from Methwold and was regarded as mobilizable.

The first operation was carried out on 15 November 1939 - a North Sea sweep against enemy shipping. They continued a desultory series of operations against coastal and shipping targets and pamphlet dropping during the winter of 1939/40. Amongst these was the costly attack on the German Fleet in the Schillig Roads and Wilhelmshaven, from which only one Wellington, of the six dispatched returned safely.

In February 1940, No. 214 Squadron moved to Stradishall and a New Zealand Squadron was formed at Feltwell. This became No. 75 Squadron and remained on the Station until August 1942.

With the invasion of Norway, both Squadrons were making sorties three or four nights a week and the number of aircraft dispatched on each raid rose from six to an average of seventeen.

His Majesty King George VI presented DFC's to members of aircrew on the Station on 26th May 1940,

Targets became mostly tactical in support of the Land battle, later concentrating on Channel ports and then merging into the general Bomber Command offensive against inland Germany.

In November 1940 No. 37 Squadron were moved to Malta and were replaced by No. 57 Squadron. Both 75 New Zealand Squadron and 57 Squadron continued night operations under 3 Group throughout 1941 and part of 1942 as part of the gradually increasing pressure on the Hun at home, which rose to the crescendo of the "Thousand" raids in May and June 19-2. It was during this period that Sgt. Ward, of No. 75 Squadron, was awarded the VC for climbing out on to the wing of a Wellington in mid-air in order to extinguish a fire in the wing petrol tank, the result of an enemy attack. This enabled the aircraft to return to base (Feltwell) without further mishap.

In the meantime Feltwell had a taste of its own medicine in the shape of a series of light raids by enemy aircraft in February and March 1941. Apart from damage to the Sergeant’s Mess, they did little harm to the Camp, but several houses in the village of Feltwell adjoining the Station were demolished and families rendered homeless.

In August 1942 Feltwell and its satellite of Methwold were transferred to No. 2 Group, the light bomber tactical group. No. 75 (N.Z.) Squadron moved to Mildenhall and No. 57 Squadron to Scampton. They were replaced by No. 464 (R.A.A.F.) Squadron and No. 487 (N.Z.) Squadron, both armed with Venturas. In November 1942 a third squadron, No. 21, also with Venturas, was installed at Methwold.

No. 21 Squadron operated early in November 1942, while Nos. 464 and 487 started with the attack on the radio works at Eindhoven. The three squadrons continued a series of daylight raids over France and NW Europe on a variety of pinpoint targets. No. 320 (Dutch) arrived at Methwold early in March 1943 but was transferred to Attlebridge at the end of the month without having operated.

In April l943 No. 21 Squadron moved to Oulton and Nos. 464 and 487 transferred to Methwold to make room for No. 192 Squadron and the Bomber Development Unit (B.D.U.). The Colonial Squadrons were visited at Methwold by Their Majesties the King and Queen in May 1943. In July 1943 both Squadrons were moved to Sculthorpe at the same time as the Station was transferred back from No. 2 Group to No. 3 Group.

No. 192 squadron was equipped with Mosquito, Wellington and Halifax aircraft), the latter crewed largely by Canadians. The Squadron was engaged on radio intelligence work and operated practically every night over a variety of targets, ranging from Berlin in the East to 15o West in the Atlantic.' During its stay a detachment was sent out to North Africa to assist in the preparations for the invasion of Italy. The Squadron moved to Foulsham in November 1943.

The B.D.U. was a non-operational unit engaged in experimental work on bombing equipment of various types. They moved to Newmarket in September 1943.

No. 3 Lancaster Finishing School started forming at Feltwell in November 1943. They had the job of adapting crews, who had done their operational training on Wellington, to working in Lancaster aircraft with which the operational squadrons of No. 3 Group were by this time equipped. They commenced training in mid-December and continued until the impending end of the war in Europe reduced the demand for crews. The Unit disbanded in January 1945.

All the RAF training resources were now concentrated on the production of crews for long range flights in the Pacific, so that a G.H. Flight came into being in January 1945 to train navigators in the use of new long range navigation devices. They were joined in February 1945 by the B.D.U. (ex-Newmarket) and No. 1688 Bomber Defence Training Flight. The latter was a RAF Regiment unit also destined for service in the Far East.

Following the collapse of Germany a number of flights were made from this Station with ground crews as passengers to show them what their aircraft had achieved in the destruction of German industry during the war.

Feltwell severed connections with Bomber Command when in April 1946 it was transferred to Flying Training Command to house No. 3 Flying Training School from South Carney. In so doing it reverted to its first use for aviation purposes, as during World War I it housed No. 7 Training Depot Station, which later became the Midland Area Flying Instructors School.

No. 3 F.T.S. was disbanded at Feltwell in 1958, and the station transferred back to Bomber Command where it became a strategic missile station responsible for Nos. 77, 82, 107, 113, and 220 Squadrons and the Command Strategic Missile School. In August 1963 the Thor base was disbanded and preparations commenced to receive the Officer Cadet Training Unit from Jurby.

Nowadays Feltwell Base is home to the American airforce.

For some detailed corrections to this history click here. (No. 2 in the Airbase Loop)

Back to Written Records    Join the Tour