4 miles North East of Mattishall
at Frans Green are the remains of some World War II air fields.
Its hard to imagine how it must have been during those dark and
troubled times. The landing strips have now all been swallowed
up by farming and local businesses. Chicken and turkey sheds now
cover must of them and the hangers are now barns or out-houses.
Long gone are the sounds of a military presence. This was the
home of the United States of America 466th Bomber Group
although recorded as 'stationed at Attlebridge'.
Below is a photo of the Memorial
dedicated to those of the USAAF 466th Bomber Command who served
© Ray Taylor
If you have trouble
reading the inscription then see the copy below....
OF UNITED STATES ARMY AIR FORCE STATION 120
MARCH 1944 - JULY 1945
FROM THIS BASE THE
466th BOMBER GROUP (H) A UNIT OF THE
EIGHTH AIR FORCE
SECOND AIR DIVISION, FLEW 231 COMBAT
MISSIONS IN B-24
"LIBERATOR" AIRCRAFT. THE AIR OFFENSIVE
WAS OVER THE CONTINENT;
NORMANDY, NORTHERN FRANCE,
AND CENTRAL EUROPE.
THIS MEMORIAL WAS
DEDICATED 12th JUNE 1992
IN MEMORY OF THOSE
This site opened as a grass field
satellite of Swanton Morley in June 1941. It has been the base
and home to many Squadrons both British and American, the first
being the 88 Squadron who flew their Blenheims on their first
mission in August 1941 aiding 2 Group from Swanton Morley in their
anti-shipping campaign. They flew their last Blenheim operation
on October 26th 1941 with very low level flying on a 4,000-ton
motor vessel with four other merchant ships guarded by three flak
ships off the Hague.
The Blenheims were replaced by Bostons
in November 1941. The Bostons were out most days, usually fighter-escorted
during Circus operations, attacking Continental targets. In suitable
weather the 88 Squadron mounted some fast, low-level attacks on
power stations. In August they took part in the Dieppe raid. On
September 30th 1942 they moved to Oulton.
They were moved because the Americans were coming. They arrived
in September 1942 when the 319th Bomb Group moved in with the
Martin Marauder in early form. They left in November amid great
Runway laying carried on to bring the airfield to full station
||An aerial view of the air-field,
known as Attlebridge, between Frans Green and Western Longville.
In march 1943 2 Group was further
expanding. New squadrons had to be accommodated as RAF and USAAF
clambered for airfields. No 320 Royal Netherlands Navy Squadron
was the next to occupy the base this time with the North American
Mitchell. Despite their wish to employ Mitchells on low-level
work the aeroplane was unsuitable. In May 320 Squadron was ordered
to stop low flying over Norfolk where B-24s needed to practice
for the Ploesti raid. In June 1943 the 320 Squadron undertook
to fly some deep air-sea rescue sweeps. On August 17 1943 they
flew their first bombing mission attacking marshaling yards at
Calais. On the 19th they bombed Poix airfield and on the 20th
came the Flushing raid. They moved out on the 2nd September to
Dunsford to be closer to their scene of action.
The airfield laid quiet again, closed
for massive extension and modification. Typhoons of the 247 Squadron
had briefly used the station in August 1943.
The Americans returned and in March
1994 B-24Hs of the 466th Bomb Group arrived. The work-up was rapid,
the need urgent, and on the their first raid on March 22 1944
they went to Berlin. It was the longest initial assault ever flown
by any unit in the history of the European Theatre and one of
the heaviest bombardments on record of the German Capital. The
morning of D-Day found them bombing gun emplacements on the Normandy
shore. They aided the breakout from St Lô and when fuel
was short in September 1944, ferried supplies to France. From
March 22 to August 9, 1944 the group attacked 41 targets in Germany
and 59 targets in occupied continental Europe. During this period
the gunners were credited with destroying 25 enemy aircraft. The
group flew 231 combat missions with 5,693 sorties, dropping nearly
13,000 tons of bombs.
The total losses for the 466th Bomber
Command from March 22, 1944 to April 25,1945 were, 333 Killed
In Action, 171 Prisoners Of War, 8 evaded 27 interred.
A special event took place on the
afternoon of Friday August 18 a flight of B-24 Liberators, including
a red and white zig-zag lead ship from the 466th Bomb Group collected
Major Glenn Miller and the entire American Band of the AEF from
RAF Airfield of Twinwood Farm just north of Bedford and after
stopping of at Steeple Morden near Royston (where he gave a performance
for the 355th Fighter Group and members of the 91st Bomb Group
from nearby bomber base at Bassington) they loaded their instruments,
music stands etc, on board the B-24s which flew them to their
home base Attlebridge (actually sited between Frans Green and
Glenn Miller and the band along with
special guests Rudy Starita's Orchestra and Hollywood film star
Col. James Stewart, performed in the Northern Hanger. Among the
numbers played were 'In the Mood' and many other hits. This concert
was a 100-mission party for officers and enlisted personnel and
was attended by 10,000 from this base and others in the area.
The band stayed overnight on the base and Glenn retired to the
Officers Mess where he was asked by a Capt. John Woolnough if
he could have his photograph taken with him to send to his brother
who was a great fan of the band. So that there would be no other
requests Glenn Miller agreed provided the picture could be taken
somewhere out of the limelight. The only room they could fine
unlocked was the toilet, its was reported that Miller was much
amused by this and this turned out to be a unique picture of Miller
and Woolnough taken by Sergeant Russell Clements.