PLANES OF THE 452nd: CLICK HERE>>>
The Deopham Green airfield was constructed in 1942/1943. It comprised a 2,000 yard main NE-SW runway; two 1,400 yard auxiliary runways; perimeter track; fifty-one hardstands (forty-nine loops virtually all spectacles and two pans; two hangers located to the north and south-west. The temporary camp, lying to the west, contained accommodation for 2,900 personnel.
The activation of the 452nd Heavy Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Force, 45th Combat Wing, was on June 1, 1943 at Geiger Field, WA. The group was immediately sorted into four squadrons: 728th; 729th; 730th; and 731st. The Cadre formation took place at Salt Lake City Army Base. During training, the troops would be sent to various locations, including Ephrata, Walla Walla, and Moses Lake WA; Rapid City, SD; Lincoln and Grand Island, NE; Sioux City, IA; Wilmington, NC; Shaw Field, SC; Oklahoma City, OK; Pendleton Field and Redmond, OR; Peyote, TX; and Great Falls, MT. They would become one of twenty-four B-17 Heavy Bomber Groups in England. Additionally, there were four Medium bomber groups, twenty Fighter Groups, and nineteen B-24 Heavy Bomber Groups in the Mighty Eighth in England.
On January 2, 1944, the majority on the 1st wave of 452nd troops embarked from Camp Shanks, NY, many on the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ liner, arriving in N. Scotland January 8, 1944. The servicemen experienced cramped quarters, taking turns on deck, and eating meals twice a day. Many flight crews assigned to Station 142 started their journey in a B-17 via Newfoundland and Labrador. The troops spent a month getting used to the British weather, attended classes, and received tips on how to operate their ‘Stove Pipe’ heaters, and warm beer. Although the 452nd arrived late in the war, it proved critical timing. February 5, 1944 the 1st mission was flown, target Romilly, France.
The 452nd hold the record for the most commanding Officers on the Eighth AF. 452nd Bombardment Group Lt. Col. Herbert O. Wangeman became a POW. The 728th Squadron Commanding Officer Captain George J. Oxrider was KIA; 729th Squadron Commanding Officer was Captain Archie S. Adair; 730th Commanding Officer was Captain Ralph S. Hayes; 731st Commanding Officer was Captain Donald E. Bilger.
The four months with the highest losses for the Eighth AF occurred February 1944-May 1944 with a loss of 237 B-17’s. Over 500 airmen lost their lives, while 8,500 became POW’s. The 452nd lost more than 200 B-17 aircraft due to enemy fire or operational incidents. The 452nd flew a total of 250 missions, and lost 456 men for their country and allies, four of whom where ground personnel. The 452nd Bombardment group flew missions with the 96th and 388th Bomb Groups. The 96th flew 316 missions, losing 169 B-17’s, and the 388th flew 301 missions with a loss of 142 B-17’s.
The 452nd Bomb group gave support to ‘D-Day’, Arnhem Landings, and the Rhine Crossing. The 452nd were awarded Distinguished Unit Citations, and two posthumous Medal of Honor.
The last missions flown from Deopham Green were humanitarian flights to Holland, where the bomb bays doors were opened to release food drops to the starving, grateful populace during Operation Chowhound in May 1945, Rescue missions were flown to liberate the French, Belgian, Dutch, British, and American Prisoners of War. V.E. Day was May 7, 1945. On August 24, 1945, named Operation Home Run, the 452nd Bomb Group was inactivated, and officially ceased to exist. Many of the pilots with some crew, flew their war-weary B-17’s home to the USA, but not without incident. The Ground Personnel also departed in August, loading the trains at Attleborough station for their long journey home.
The Deopham Green Base permanently closed in 1948.
Extensive remains of all three runways, and perimeter track, although they have been reduced in width. Part of the main NE-SW runway is a public road, approximately where a previous road existed. There are a few remaining camp buildings; hardstands; guard post; bomb storage area. Farmers who had lost their land to the airfield eventually had the fuel dump, communications building, hangers, pool, and most hardstands destroyed. The control tower began decaying in late 1950’s and was destroyed in early 1960’s.
SEE THE MAP BELOW(GUIDE TO THE VIEWPOINTS)
MEMORIAL TO THE 452nd BOMBARDMENT GROUP
located with a star on map near where the control tower was located. The Memorial was dedicated May, 1995 and service was attended by over eighty veterans and their partners, the Fiftieth Anniversary since WWII. An Annual Memorial Service is held, and in 2010 several Veterans honored their fellow comrades, on the Sixty-fifth Anniversary.
A Memorial was erected on the grounds of St. Andrews Church, Hingham, and was dedicated in May, 1995, which was attended by the 452nd Veterans. The church houses many significant tributes to the Group. The 452nd Bomb Group presented a plaque to Great/Little Ellingham for their dedication in honoring the fallen. It was placed in Little Ellingham Church.
A Wall Plaque is displayed on the train station platform wall at Attleborough, the site of many furloughs for the personnel.
Over eighty Veterans were in attendance at the 50th Anniversary. A group of 452nd BG Veterans attended the Annual Service in June 2010 (65th Anniversary) and found both young and the elderly still memorialized the ‘Yanks’ temporary occupation and those who ‘gave all’.
St Andrews Church
DEDICATED June 1995
The church has a large collection of 452nd BG memorabilia. The uSA flag was flown from steeple on the 2010 veterans visit.
WALL PLAQUE honoring the 452nd BG on the Platform wall of Attleborough Train Station. Many of the furloughed servicemen travelled to Norwich and London from this station.
The mural of Robin Hood on the wall of the Quonset hut is still visible, though slightly faded. The huts are now owned by County Public Works. Visitors can inquire as to access. Viewpoint M.
Sign Post at crossroads Bush Green, (see map) on the Gt Ellingham to Deopham Road. The British have decimalized most everything but not miles.
Control Room as it was in 1944
Honorary Plaque displayed at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk. Testament that the 452nd BG continues to protect and serve – Air Refueling Wing.
March AFB, CA, Joint Air Reserves – home to the 452nd Air Refueling Wing and the 452nd/ 729th Air Mobility SQ. The servicemen though categorized as Reservists are constant travelers to Afghanistan, and wherever the need calls them in tragedies, natural disasters, and Joint Operations with other countries. They proudly represent the 452nd.
2012: Derelict NISSEN HUTS
Viewpoint D, N of field
Control Tower: 1944
Location 3 on map
Two Views of Runways 1978
Sentry Hut near 728th Hardstands. Hut remains but in disrepair.