Unit History: RAF Marham

RAF Marham
Originally called Royal Naval Air Station Narborough, Narborough aerodrome was originally opened in August 1915 as a night flying landing ground for RNAS Great Yarmouth, a few miles from the boundary of the present day RAF Marham. In 1916 the aerodrome was handed over to the Royal Flying Corps. The aerodrome was closed in 1919 when the last units moved out, today, little remains of the original airfield structures.
In 1935 work started on a new airfield, this became active in 1 April 1937, with a resident heavy bomber unit from within 3 Group, RAF Bomber Command. The first squadron, No 38, arrived in May 1937 with Fairey Hendon bombers. In June No. 115 Squadron RAF re-formed at Marham with Handley Page Harrows while 38 Sqn received Wellington I bombers in December 1938, followed in 1939 by 115 Squadron.
During March 1944, Marham closed for the construction of new concrete runways, perimiter track, and dispersal areas, marking the end of wartime operations at Marham.
Post World War II the airfield was home to RAF units operating the Boeing Washington aircraft, the Vickers Valiant and Handley Page Victor. The station is also one of the few large enough for the operation of the Boeing B-52 and a number of these aircraft visited on exercise in the 1970s and 1980s.
During 1977 24 Hardened Aircraft Shelters were constructed to house future strike aircraft, which would eventually see the arrival of the Panavia Tornado in 1982. These shelters were equipped with the U.S. Weapon Storage Security System (WS3), each able to store 4 WE.177 nuclear bombs.
No. 138 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) formed at Marham on 1 April 2006 encompassing most of the non-formed unit personnel on station. The EAW does not include the flying units at the station.
No. 12 Squadron RAF 1993-1994 operating Panavia Tornado
No. 15 Squadron RAF 1950-1951 operating Avro Lincoln
No. 27 Squadron RAF 1983-1993 operating Panavia Tornado
No. 35 Squadron RAF 1951-1956 operating Boeing Washington,English Electric Canberra
No. 38 Squadron RAF 1937-1940 operating Fairey Hendon, Vickers Wellington
No. 39 Squadron RAF 1993-2006 operating English Electric Canberra. Disbanded on 28 July 2006, ending 55 years of RAF Canberra operations.
No. 44 Squadron RAF 1946-1951 operating Avro Lincoln, Boeing Washington
No. 49 Squadron RAF 1961-1965 operating Vickers Valiant
No. 51 Squadron RAF 1917-1919 operating RAF FE.2b
No. 55 Squadron RAF 1966-1993 operating Handley Page Victor
No. 57 Squadron RAF 1951-1951 operating Avro Lincoln, Boeing Washington
No. 90 Squadron RAF 1950-1956 operating Avro Lincoln, Boeing Washington, English Electric Canberra
No. 100 Squadron RAF 1976-1982 operating English Electric Canberra
No. 105 Squadron RAF 1942-1944 operating De Havilland Mosquito
No. 109 Squadron RAF 1943-1944 operating De Havilland Mosquito
No. 115 Squadron RAF 1937-1941 operating Fairey Hendon, Handley Page Harrow, Vickers Wellington
No. 115 Squadron RAF 1950-1957 operating Avro Lincoln, Boeing Washington, English Electric Canberra
No. 139 Squadron RAF 1942-1943 operating De Havilland Mosquito
No. 148 Squadron RAF 1956-1965 operating Vickers Valiant
No. 149 Squadron RAF 1950-1950 operating Avro Lincoln
No. 207 Squadron RAF 1951-1956 operating Boeing Washington, English Electric Canberra
No. 207 Squadron RAF 1956-1965 operating Vickers Valiant
No. 214 Squadron RAF 1956-1965 operating Vickers Valiant
No. 214 Squadron RAF 1966-1977 operating Handley Page Victor
No. 218 Squadron RAF 1940-1942 operating Vickers Wellington, Short Stirling
No. 242 Squadron RAF 1959-1964 operating Bristol Bloodhound
No. 617 Squadron RAF 1983-1994 operating Panavia Tornado GR1
No 232 OCU operating Handley Page Victor K2

Memories of RAF Marham

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

RAF Marham in 1957

Written by james brown

Many happy memories of life at Marham, where I was supposed to be an Air Wireless Mechanic but was actually employed for most of the time a clerk to the signals officers in the electronics centre. Met my wife there as she was nanny to the CO's children, and am still in touch with ACM Sir Lewis Hodges and many other friends.

Raf Marham in 1974

Written by Stephen Gadsby

1974 arrive at Raf Marham as the first group of Flight line mechanics

, RAF Marham, Super Sabre crash at 57 Sqdn Dispersal, RAF Marham, Sept 13, 1969 in 1969

Written by Roger Imm

57 Squadron, RAF Marham, September 13, 1969. In these days, I used to bike (on my service issued bike) to work up Squires Hill from my home in the village. I would take Churchland Road to the airfield crash gate , climb over and ride on the grass down the hill to the 57 squadron dispersal. I had been told couple times that I was to enter the station only through the main gate. This was never going to fly since it entailed riding an extra 1.5 miles essentially in a big circle especially when it was cold and raining (a lot of squadron personnel also took this path).
It was Saturday, September 13, 1969, and I was working at the 57 Squadron dispersal as usual. The dispersal was on the peri track on the West side of the main runway. The aircraft parking was in four semi circles, two on each side of the peri-track, accommodating 8 aircraft. The dispersal buildings consisted of a large Nissen hut connected to a series of flat-roofed buildings at the rear and a standalone brick toilet on the North East side. Coordinates (Lat Long) of the Nissen Hut are 32d 58m 59s North & 0d 32m 32.75s East. Inside the main door on the right-hand side was a desk where the form 700 aircraft maintenance logs were kept. There where tool boards and tool storage in this area. Further inside was a sitting area where the ground crew took breaks.
Several of us were hanging around the front door as there was not much happening; it was slow being a Saturday. I had just finished checking the 5psi air pressure on the radio sets (the sets were pressurized to avoid condensation problems). There was a fuel bowser refueling one of the aircraft with a crew chief in attendance on the far south aircraft park; other side of the peri-track.
I was watching aircraft doing touch & goes which was a familiar occurrence. The aircraft were approaching from the North East using the main runway. I was paying attention because there were a pair of US Super Sabres flying in loose formation and the unusual sound of their Pratt & Witney engines.
As I watched, one of the Super Sabres approaching the NE end of the runway dipped its nose down and something flew out of the top. The starboard wing dropped and the aircraft veered in our direction. I noticed what later I realized was a parachute open and then I stepped inside as I realized the plane was coming our way. There was a large explosion outside and as I watched through the door as a wall of fire erupted across my complete vision and it sounded like a fireworks show. I stepped back outside and took in the scene. The plane had hit the ground (tarmac) close to the peri-track about 250 feet from the door of the Nissen Hut, missing the Victor tankers by just a few feet. Many of the tankers were fully fueled with 90,000 lbs of fuel. The plane had followed a curved path until it hit the ground. The plane then plowed its way up the grassy hill in a NW direction leaving a wall of fire towards the married quarters on Windy Ridge. At its closest the plane passed within 250 feet of the Nissen Hut and missed the parked aircraft by 50 feet. The plane was apparently armed with Sidewinder missiles and 20mm cannon ammo which continued to burn and detonate for many minutes. A stream of Avgas was running across the tarmac towards the nearest plane. I remember ringing the fire bell on the outside of the Nissen Hut and a crew chief running towards his aircraft with a fire extinguisher to protect the plane. There was really nothing we could do. A few minutes later two fire engines arrived to lay foam on the fires. I remember a crew chief screaming at them to keep the foam off of his aircraft.
I know there was a lot of outrage expressed that the pilot had ejected without thought of the consequences. The plane came very close to plowing into the married quarters. As it turned out no one was injured and none of our aircraft was damaged.
The plane was a F100D Super Sabre from the 79th TFS (Tactical Fighter Squadron) of the 20th TFW (Tactical Fighter Wing) from RAF Woodbridge. Serial number believed to be 56-2986. Armed with Sidewinder missiles and 20mm cannon and fitted with two drop tanks.

RAF Marham, in 1978

Written by dennis nightingale


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