Record Details

NHER Number:13551
Type of record:Monument
Name:Docking Airfield


A World War Two airfield with a grass runway and associated hangars, ancillary buildings and anti aircraft batteries, visible on aerial photographs. Some standing buildings survive on the site.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 786 394
Map Sheet:TF73NE

Full description

Site of Docking airfield, satellite of Bircham Newton, 1943 to 1945.

Little remains of airfield itself, only small parts of runways, but road along east side looks like a concrete airfield road.
However up to half a mile away small buildings occur in the fields.
E. Rose (NAU) 7 June 1979.

This was a grass runway airfield, so no concrete runways.
Several airfield concrete roads extant, and buildings at TF 7863 3934 (part of armoury) and TF 7867 3924.
Latter group includes control tower.
D. Gurney (NLA) 16 October 1990.

June 1946.
RAF air photograph shows further military activity to north, site now extended to include this. The major addition is within a near rectangular concentric road where 3 bunkers, probably housing gun emplacements or stores are about 20m square with concentric bases.
B. Cushion (NLA), 11 June 1998.

April 2002. Norfolk NMP.
(Site extended, see hard copy NHER map for original extent).
Extent of airfield and military activity as recorded from contemporary RAF vertical images (S1 and S2) appears to exceed considerably previous site boundary. The northern part of a grass runway can be seen as a parchmark in June 1945 (S1) running from TF 7900 3980 to TF 7888 4028. There are landing lights or flares down the sides of the runway. There is a substantial area to the west which is also parched from constant activity, surrounding two hangars (TF 7872 4005 and TF 7874 3983) each with a length of 25m and a width of 14m. Complexes of elongated rectangular structures and concrete roads and paths are visible at TF 7757 3400 and TF 7813 3990 (S2) which may represent barracks or operational buildings. The structures typically have a length of 14m and a width of 5.5m. There are two curved profile buildings at TF 7756 4027 which are also likely to have a military purpose, although they could be agricultural. To the east of the landing strip are a series of concrete roads and structures.

There is an anti aircraft battery at TF 7940 4034, with three embanked gun emplacements. Curved profile buildings at TF 7917 4034 and TF 7927 4037 are likely to be associated with the Anti Aircraft battery. To the south of the battery a concrete road leads west to a further three concrete building platforms at TF 7968 4009.

Docking was initially a decoy airfield and 'Q' site before becoming a satellite for Bircham Newton (S3). There were numerous bomber and fighter squadrons operating out of Docking between 1940 and 1945.
M. Brennand (NMP), 16 April 2002.

January 2007. Norfolk NMP.
Comparison with other sites suggests that the anti-aircraft battery described above is more likely to be a cluster of heavily protected stores, for ammunition or pyrotechnics, for example. Although the radial arrangement of the embankments is reminiscent of heavy anti-aircraft batteries, the absence of a fourth gun emplacement and its proximity to the airfield itself, suggests that alternative interpretations are more likely. The ‘emplacements’ are also larger than would typically be expected for light anti aircraft guns.

In addition, the identification of this airfield as a former decoy site is also open to question, as it is not listed as one of Bircham Newton’s ‘Q’ sites by Dobinson (S4). The fact that Docking airfield itself had two decoy sites, one of which (at Burnham Sutton) it shared with Bircham Newton (S4), could have led to this confusion.
S. Tremlett (NMP), 10 January 2007.

For further information on the operational history of the airfield and photographs of remaining buildings, see (S5).
A. Cattermole (NLA), 13 January 2010.

Monument Types

  • ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • ARMOURY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BARRACKS (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BATTLE HEADQUARTERS (11008/41) (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BOMBING DECOY? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BUNKER (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • CONTROL TOWER (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • GUN EMPLACEMENT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • HANGAR (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY AIRFIELD (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY BUILDING (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • RUNWAY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status


Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TF 74/TF 7840/B.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Website: Simon Purcell. 2011. Battle Headquarters.
<S1>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/403 4241 18-JUN-1945 (NMR).
<S2>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1571 3121 07-JUN-1946 (SMR TF 7740D).
<S3>Publication: Fairhead, H. and Tuffen, R.. 1987. Airfields and Airstrips of Norfolk and Suffolk.. Part 1, 15-16. Third edition..
<S4>Monograph: Dobinson, C.. 2000. Fields of Deception. Britain's Bombing Decoys of World War II.. pp 245-246, 253.
<S5>Monograph: McKenzie, R.. 2004. Ghost Fields of Norfolk. pp 26-30.

Related records - none

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