Unit History: RAF Watton

RAF Watton
The RAF Station Watton is located in Nolfolk, south-southwest of East Dereham and is a former military airfield.  The station was open on the 4th January 1939 under the Command Group Captain F.J Vincent as a station of 2 Group, Bomber Command. It was built as part of the expansion programme of 1935-36.
RAF Watton was given USAAF designation Station 376 (WN).
July 1944 the American 25th Bomber Group (reconnaissance) commenced operations these were mainly to do with weather and photo recon., but also some O.S.S. (secret service) missions supporting the resistance organisations in Europe. Sharing the runway were also the 3rd Strategic Air Depot, operating on the South side of the Airfield at a site they called Neaton, their purpose was to provide engineering support for the 8th Air Force and many crippled aircraft landed at Watton to be repaired by them. The Americans remained until August 1945 when the camp was returned to the Royal Air Force on September 1945.  It was used by various flying units of RAF Signals Command, No. 199 Squadron, for example being based at Watton in the early 1950s with Mosquito NF36s operating with the Central Signals Establishment, and in 1953 116 Squadron operated with Avro Lincolns, a Hasting and a number of MkII Avro Ansons. The last three Lincolns serving with No. 151 Squadron on signals duties were withdrawn in March 1963.
Part of the camp put up for sale in 1995 was sold to a developer for the creation of a new housing estate. Three of the type C hangars were used for grain stores for some years, prior to their demolition, which now leaves only one partially remaining.

RAF Watton during WW2


The first two Squadrons to be based here were Nos. 21 and 34 flying mainly training flights until in August of 1939 No. 34 Squadron was posted to Egypt and replaced by No. 82 Squadron, who with 21 Squadron formed No. 79 Wing. These two Squadrons remained until mid 1942.

Twice during the summer of 1940 No.82 Squadron lost eleven out of twelve Blenheims dispatched on raids in daylight and it was not until the middle of 1941 that the fighter escorts were available for operations.
In 1942 No.21 Squadron exchanged their Blenheims for Mitchell’s although they did not fly any operations with these aircraft and in October of that year the Squadron moved to Methwold. At the same time No.82 Squadron transferred to the Middle East and Watton was occupied by No.17 Advanced Flying Unit. They were equipped with Miles Masters and performed advanced flying training. In July 1943 No.17 A.F.U. left and the Americans moved in.

In 1943 Watton was turned over to the United States Army Air Force Eighth Air Force for use as an air depot. The airfield was originally grass surfaced but, during the American tenure a long concrete runway was constructed. Additional hangars were added and three blister hangars at dispersals. The construction of the airfield necessitated the closure of two public roads.

Memories of RAF Watton

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

RAF Watton 1961-1962 in 1961

Written by JOHN ALLAN

Due to this site Robbie and I met up recently together with our wives.See also, http://lincoln570.tripod.com/id3.html

RAF WATTON in 2006

Written by JOHN ALLAN

I have just been down to the old RAF Watton Camp and the Photos are here http://www.fionaandjohnallan.com/raf/R.A.F/WATTON.html any old friends please contact.

RAF Watton in 1962

Written by Douglas Richards

1st station after leaving Boy Entrant training. The cafe opposite. 1st time drunk. The flea pit. 63 the death of Kennedy.
65-67 (20 Sqn) RAF Tengah. Nights out in Bugey Street and other places of ill repute. The night England won the world cup. New Years with the young ladies of dubious reputation. The day and night of my 21 st.
67-69 RAF Gaydon can't remember much about here perhaps could remind me.
69-70 RAF El Adem. Mainly Gaddafi kicking us out and only having to do 9 mths inrtead of 2 yrs.
70-71 RAF Bentley Priory/Stanmore Park. The cricket team winning the 'B' Cup. The nights outs in London. Crazy nights in the NAAFI. Harrow rugby club. Tom Rielly Sue Williams. All the girls in the telephone exchange. But especially meeting Judi Riley until she was posted to EPISKOPI.
71-75 RAF Hígh Wycombe.Too many to recall, but here are a few. GEORGE ARMSTRONG, JANE POWELL, JENNY MOLD, DUNCAN, ALLAN HUDD. PADDY BROE. PADDY MEAGHER, Mrs DAVISON. JOHN SUGDEN. The rugby internationals home and away. Banger racing. The drinking sessions. My leaving do and the 2 holidays we had in TENERIFE

RAF Watton AOCs Inspection in 1950

Written by dennis walter barnes

I think the one single thing I remember about Watton was the annual AOCs inspection with its weeks of ’’Bull’’ beforehand. The highlight of the show being Flt Lt Jimmy Stones, our Ace Pilots party piece of flying a Lanc with 8 bods on board as ballast at roof top hight over the Control Tower with the AOC looking on inside, and doing this incredible piece of flying on only ONE ENGINE [ Starb Inner ] Great Stuff Stand by your beds, here comes the Air Vice Marshall he’s got lots of rings but h’es only got one _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

RAF Watton, in 1962

Written by Douglas Richards

arriving at my first unit after training and learning the difference in real situations. Getting drunk for thje 1st time at the xmas party. Meeting Arlene Roebuck very nice. All the x country running and other sports. Death of Kennedy. Final w/e in London before going to Singapore.

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