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Unit History: RAF Feltwell
A former Second World War bomber station, the base is used as a housing estate for United States Air Force personnel stationed nearby at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath, while also containing the Airman Leadership School for USAF personnel in the UK, as well as being the home of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s sole furniture store in the country.
The airfield was built during the period of expansion of the RAF in the late 1930s and is similar in layout to many of the other RAF airfields of the period (for example RAF Marham, RAF Watton and RAF West Raynham). The airfield was home to a number of heavy bomber squadrons of the RAF during World War II. Post war RAF Thor Missiles were stationed here at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Between 1989 and 2003 it also hosted the US Air Force’s 5th Space Surveillance Squadron (5 SPSS) which was subordinate to the 21st Operations Group (21 OG) and the 21st Space Wing (21 SW), both at Peterson AFB, Colorado. These organizations in turn are subordinate to the 14th Air Force (14 AF) at Vandenberg AFB, California which reports to HQ Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), also at Peterson AFB, CO.
The 5 SPSS (initially designated "Detachment 1, 73rd Space Surveillance Group", or "Det 1 SSURGP") was part of the USAF’s Passive Space Surveillance Network which tracked the physical location of emitting satellites in orbit. This data along with that from other systems was used to adjust the orbits of various satellites and manned vessels (for instance the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station) to reduce the risk of on-orbit collisions.
However other USAF systems and capabilities ultimately superseded DSTS and it were removed in 2002 and the unit was de-actived shortly thereafter. The 21st Space Wing now has a detachment at RAF Fylingdales, UK, to coordinate cooperative missile warning and space surveillance with RAF counterparts.
Memories of RAF Feltwell
(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)
RAF Feltwell in 1956
Written by maureen mageeI'm the wife of an MT member Ray Wall. If you remember having ham steaks down in the section with the duty drivers in the evenings contact me. Ray & self would love to have a message from you.
RAF Feltwell in 1943
Written by richard harveyMy Aunt Edith Harvey joined the Raf on 24th July 1941 and was posted to RAF Feltwell as a waitress in the Sergeants Mess. Edith 451316 was billeted in Spitfire block which was a wooden building. By the time her war service was over Edith had risen to become an LACW. She left RAF Feltwell with 56 days severence leave on 5th December 1945. Edith passed away a few years ago but always said that the happiest days of her life were spent at Feltwell. She made lifelong friends with, Eva, Vera, Betty and Barbara and the uploaded photograph was taken outside Spitfire Hut where the airwomen lived. The other photograph depicts four sergeants who were Ediths customers. Written on the photograph all the best from John, George, Daren and Paddy. In 1969 I joined the RAF was posted to Feltwell anmd was accommodated in the old sergeants block. If these photographs provoke any memories for you or you want a digital copy, contact me.
RAF Feltwell in 1943
Written by richard harveyMy two Aunts Edith and Doris joined the RAF in 1941 and were posted to RAF Feltwell in Norfolk. They both worked in the Sergeants Mess as waitresses. For them the transition from a sleepy seaside North Norfolk town to the action packed bomber station was an exciting experience. The feeling of achievment in being part of an enormous wartime effort. However, when some of the boys didn’t come back, the sergeants mess waitresses joined in the emotion of loss. This photograph was kept very safely by my Aunt Edith. The names on the photo are John, George, Darren and Roddy. They are all wearing a brevet so supposedly flying in action. I hope they got back safely and if anyone knows any more 0f these serviceman I should be delighted to hear from you. I will provide digital copy of this image on request via email.
RAF Feltwell in 1970
Written by John R AlceConstructing and play on the RAF Feltwell Golf Course, Its still operating
Getting Married and wedding reception in the combined Mess Oct 2nd 1970
RAF Feltwell, in 1956
Written by Leon MacDonaldAs a member of the station athletics team I competed as a middle distance runner at distances of 880 yards, 1 and 3 miles.
1956 started off bad for me when I badly damaged my ankle in a cross country race against Peterhouse Collage, Cambridge. This saw me attending the RAF hospital at Ely weekly for treatment.
In time I was able to resume training and was determined to regain full strength. This I managed and had the most successful period in athletics.
With the Group championships looming, the athletics officer asked me if I would compete in the 3000m steeplechase. I had no experience of this event, but as we had cover at my usual events, I agreed.
My first race at this event was at the Group Champs., where I finished second. This guaranteed my selection to the Group team to run in the Command champs. Again I finished second, thus giving me a place in the Command team to run in the RAF Finals at RAF Uxbridge.
By this time I had been demobbed, but as I was on the reserve list I was still eligible to run. It was a filthy day, raining most of the time, turning the cinder track into a quagmire. However when it came time for my race the rain thankfully stopped, but the track was obviously very heavy. Again I finished second, but this time it was second last!
That was the highlight of my athletics career as shortly afterwards, running in my local club meeting I again damaged my ankle which - under doctor’s adice - put an end to my athletics.
Active From: 1937 - 2007