Record Details

NHER Number:4942
Type of record:Monument
Name:RAF Feltwell Airfield

Summary

This RAF airfield was used in World War One and World War Two. It was a training depot from 1918 to 1920 and was reopened as one of the first two Expansion Period bomber stations in 1937. Converted to a Thor Missile base in 1958. Cropmarks and earthworks of anti glider trenches and building can be seen on aerial photographs of this area. Local stories suggest a German bomber landed here one night and didn't realise the mistake until morning when it took off again and returned home. Part of the flying area is now a golf course, with the rest occupied by the USAF. Metal detecting here has recovered seven Roman coins.

Images - none

Documents/files/web pages

Location

Grid Reference:TL 71 89
Map Sheet:TL78NW
Parish:FELTWELL, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK
HOCKWOLD CUM WILTON, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

February 1981. Visit. Airfield.
Used in World War One. Training depot in 1918. Rebuilt and extended northwards. In use until the 1960s. During original construction a tramway was laid from Lakenheath station, and was afterwards sent to Australia. According to informant buildings of a World War One base hospital remain at southeast corner where a number of old brick sheds remain. Large hangars on north perimeter, several buildings and brick shelters to east.
See (S1) for the hospital.
Part now an RAF housing estate, much returned to agriculture.
E. Rose (NAU), 26 February 1981.

1992.
Detail of an airfield building revealed as cropmark.
E. Rose (NLA).

May 1994. At TL 7099 9025.
Found during construction of school building, east of building 38. Backfilled trench or ?access ramp leading to 'tunnel' and at least one 'chamber' cut into the natural chalk. 1946 aerial photographs show an angled feature at this location, and others elsewhere on the base, suggesting shelters or stores, of World War Two date?
D. Gurney (NLA), 9 May 1994.

Compare underground radar station at Corton, Suffolk (called 'Hopton').
E. Rose (NLA), 2 June 1994.

Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum repeat a story that a German aircraft landed on the airfield one night, not realising its mistake until next morning when it took off before anyone noticed. As a result dummy Wellingtons were sited east of the field, and were bombed the next night. They connect this with rows of mounds seen on 1946 air photographs as crossing nearby fields, which K.Sussams (SAU) suggests as anti glider defence; but such mounds appear on several fields in this area nowhere near airfields.
E. Rose (NLA), 11 February 1997.

These mounds accompanied by broken ditches divide the fields into grids. K.Sussams (SAU) quotes an RCHME survey of Nonsuch Park, Surrey. But the latter shows ditches radiating from a central point, and persons spoken to by D. Edwards and E. Rose (NLA) who can remember World War Two confirm that anti gilder ditches normally followed a zigzag pattern. Defence of Britain Project have no information on grid pattern ditches. but say that there were also types of ditches to prevent powered aircraft from taking off again having unloaded troops. One cannot imagine anyone even trying to land troops on a field like this.
E. Rose (NLA), 25 July 1997.

However the identification is correct, see (S2).
E. Rose (NLA), 29 January 1998.

World War Two anti aircraft artillery.
See file.
D. Gurney (NLA) 28 January 1997.

22 July 1993. NLA air photography.
Images show golf course on site of former airfield.
M. Brennand (NLA), 12 February 2001.

1998. Metal detecting. Grid reference supplied by finder, adjacent to Grange Farm.
Seven Roman coins.
See list in file.
K. Hinds, 22 February 2000.

For Cold War missile site, see NHER 41288.
D. Gurney (NLA), 6 April 2005.

February 2009. Building Survey.
Building recording of building 50, the WWII lubricants and inflammable materials store.
Building 50 is a small rectangular building located behind a hangar, and consists of two lower side rooms bisected by the main structure. The doors on the front of the building bear the words 'INFLAMMABLES', 'CARBIDE' and 'KEROSINE' in raised letters under layers of paint. Concrete curbs line the doorways, and each door has a concrete lintel. There are barred windows, which appear to be original. The building is constructed of red brick with occasional grey inclusions. There are traces of camouflage paint to the building's exterior.
See report (S3) for further details.
H. White (NLA), 1 September 2009.

RAF Feltwell opened originally in 1915, when one of the fields within the boundary of the later base was used as a training depot. The training depot operated until 1920. The airfield was built in the 1930s, opening as an Expansion Period bomber station in 1937. The bomber station was converted to a training station between 1946 - 1958. Thor missiles were installed in 1958, and removed in 1963 (see NHER 41288), but the base remained operational (albeit without a flying field). It was transferred to the USAF, who installed three large radars on site (under "golf balls"), used for space and surveillance purposes (See (S4) and (S5)).
The flying field was grass, reinforced post war with Summerfield matting. NB - contra Bennand (above), only a small proportion (c.25%) of the flying field was converted to a golf course. The remainder lies within the USAF base.
The Explosives Storage Area now lies outside the base perimeter, and is unusually intact for a non-flying station.
K. Hamilton (HES) 9 November 2012

A set of footprints were placed on the ceiling of one of the buildings (the ante room of the Officers' Mess, building 17) during WWII. The prints were made during a lull in the fighting when drunken group of pilots built a human pyramid and held aloft another pilot with blackened feet as he walked around on the ceiling. The prints became legendary in the RAF and a similar event was even written into a fictional wartime movie on the RAF (Appointment in London). When the Americans took over the base in the 1970s they painted over the footprints, possibly protected by a coat of varnish (S6)(S7).
D. Gurney (HES), 28 August 2013.

November 2013.The grass airfield had Drem lighting. Feltwell and Marham were the first two Expansion Period stations, the hangars being original first phase structures designed by the architect Bulloch and all other Expansion stations followed these. The dining room is still used for its original purpose (S8).
D. Gurney (HES), 11 November 2013.

Monument Types

  • HOSPITAL (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • MILITARY AIRFIELD (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • TRAMWAY (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • AIR RAID SHELTER (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • AIRCRAFT HANGAR (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BATTLE HEADQUARTERS (11008/41) (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BUILDING (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • TUNNEL (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • UNDERGROUND MILITARY HEADQUARTERS (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds

  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Photograph: GYW.
---Aerial Photograph: TL7090J, K, TL7189A, TL7089A, TL 7189B,E.
---Article in Serial: 1973. Airfields of Norfolk and Suffolk. Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum. Part 1. Part 3, pp 12-15.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1993. TL 7189N, P, Q.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TF 7089B - D.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TF 7089B - D.
---Illustration: Unknown. Sketch plan of finds site.. Film.
---Serial: Dobinson, C.S.. 1996. Twentieth Century Fortifications in England.. Vol I.4, p 563; Vol I.3.
---Website: Simon Purcell. 2011. Battle Headquarters.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S2>Article in Serial: 1997. 20th century fortifications of England.. Council for British Archaeology. Vol 1, part 1, p 190.
<S3>Unpublished Document: Harris, B. 2009. A Report on Building 50. The RAF Feltwell Second World War Lubricants and Inflammable Materials Stores Facility.
<S4>Publication: Bowyer, M.J.F.. 1979. Action Stations 1: Wartime Military Airfields of East Anglia 1935-1945.
<S5>Monograph: Delve, K.. 2005. The Military Airfields of Britain: East Anglia: Norfolk and Suffolk..
<S6>Verbal Communication: Joe Koziar (RAF Feltwell). 2013. Footrints on the ceiling.
<S7>Website: 2013. Footprints on the ceiling - RAF Mess Games.
<S8>Verbal Communication: Paul Francis. 2013. RAF Feltwell.

Related records

55278Parent of: Post-medieval lime kiln, Whitedyke (Monument)
55092Parent of: Site of World War Two air-raid shelter at RAF Feltwell (Monument)
55094Parent of: Site of World War Two bulk fuel installation (Monument)
55095Parent of: Site of World War Two water tank (Monument)

Find out more...

Norfolk County Council logo Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Powered by HBSMR-web and the HBSMR Gateway from exeGesIS SDM Ltd, and mojoPortal CMS
© 2007 - 2017 Norfolk Historic Environment Service