Unit History: RAF Tuddenham
One of the new bomber airfields to Class A standard, work commenced on Tuddenham late in 1942 on a land east of the village of that name, partly on Cavenham Heath close to the Q-site dummy airfield that had been established in the early days of the war. The main contractor was M. J. Gleeson Ltd. Layout followed the normal pattern of three intersecting runways; the main 12-30 at 2,000 yards, the others, 01-19 and 07-25, both 1,400 yards long. A total of 38 hardstandings of the loop type were constructed along the perimeter track and the standard two T2 hangars provided. One T2 was on the technical site between runway heads O1 and 07, the other just north of runway head 12. At a later date a B1 repair hangar was erected on the north-west side, not far from the T2. The airfield had FIDO fog clearance burners installed along the 12-30 runway, the first use of the equipment being in August 1944. Twelve dispersed sites among woods and farmland south of the Cavenham-Tuddenham road included domestic accommodation for 1,845 males and 250 females.
Completed during autumn of 1943, in October No. 90 Squadron’s Stirlings vacated Wratting Common to settle in at Tuddenham. Like the other operational Stirling equipped units, No. 90 engaged chiefly on mine laying until converting to Lancasters in May 1944. The squadron remained at Tuddenham for two years, until the station was closed for flying in November 1946.
As frequently happened when a new squadron was to be formed, the `C’ Flight of an active squadron was taken as the nucleus. Such was the case with re-born No. 186 Squadron, taken from No. 90 in October 1944. Two months later, when this unit had worked up to full strength, it transferred to Stradishall which was vacant and offered more pleasant accommodation. Further expansion of Bomber Command’s main effort brought No.138 Squadron from Tempsford where `special duties’ over the remaining occupied territories no longer required two squadrons. Reequipped, the Lancasters of No. 138 joined No. 90 in bombing operations on March 29, 1945, and remained alongside at Tuddenham until the station was scheduled for closure. A total of 53 bombers were lost while on operations from Tuddenham, 17 Stirlings and 36 Lancasters.
In April 1946, two other reduced Lancaster squadrons, Nos. 149 and 207, came to Tuddenham when their wartime stations were prepared for closure. Like so many of the airfields constructed during the war, Tuddenham was soon deserted in preference for the comfort of the pre-war expansion scheme airfields with their centrally-heated barracks and spacious messes. At first the buildings were used to meet housing shortages and the land between runways returned to agriculture. However, the Cold War saw the airfield reserved for possible use if the situation deteriorated and in 1957 its location in a rural site of low population saw Tuddenham selected as a site for a Thor medium range missile unit. In July 1959, No. 107 Squadron was re-formed to operate the three missiles deployed in the special launch area constructed in the centre of the airfield.
The Thors were withdrawn in 1963 and the site closed in July that year