Unit History: RAF Stradishall

RAF Stradishall
Stradishall was an active station for over 30 years, opening in February 1938 as part of 3 Group.
It was first occupied by 9 Squadron with Heyfords and 148 Squadron with Wellesleys, although the latter were soon replaced by Heyfords and Ansons. In September 1938 the Munich crisis had Stradishall on full alert and its tentative target, in case of war, was Berlin.
In early 1939 9 Squadron left to be replaced by the Wellingtons and Ansons of 75 Squadron, but Stradishall was vacant, when these moved on, from September to October 1939.
After a brief period of Blenheim 1F fighters, Wellington bombers returned in February 1940 with 214 Squadron, the Federated Malay States Squadron, who stayed until October 1942.
One of the hangers suffered enemy bomb damage in early 1941. Number 138 Squadron flew many sorties from November 1941 to March 1942 with Whitley bombers.
In April 1942 214 Squadron converted to Stirlings and 109 Squadron arrived in Wellingtons, then Oxfords of 1521 BAT Flight.
In May 1943 Stradishall controlled Ridgewell and Chedburgh but in December 1944 186 Squadron arrived from Tuddenham with Lancasters and operated until they disbanded in July 1945.
After the war Stradishall left 3 Group and passed to 48 Group Transport Command and in August 1945 Number 51 and 158 Squadrons arrived in Stirling CV’s and these flew until March 1946 when 51 Squadron received Yorks. In September 1946 Stradishall reverted to 3 Group and five squadrons of Lancasters were based here until February 1949.
In July 1949 Stradishall became Number 203 Advanced Flying School for Meteors, a few Spitfires, Vampires and Harvards into the 1950s. Number 203 became redesignated 226 Operational Conversion Unit but continued to fly many types of aircraft until 1955.
From 1955 to 1957 Number 125 Squadron flew Meteor NF11’s and Venom NF3’s with 263 Squadron joining in 1957 to 1958.
Javelin 2’s and 6’s were flown by 89 and 85 Squadron up to 1959. In 1958 Hunter 6’s arrived with Number 1 and Number 54 Squadron and these planes stayed until 1961.
In December 1961 Stradishall became a Training Command with Number 1 Air Navigation School with Varsities and Meteors, then Dominies until August 1970.
Stradishall then attained some fame as a transit camp for Ugandan Asians expelled by Idi Amin. In July 1977 Stradishall became Highpoint Prison and it has been extended and improved as a prison ever since.
The "Hard Times" cafe stands outside the prison gates today, on the road from Bury St Edmunds to Haverhill.

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