RAF Deopham Green, latterly home to 452nd Bombardment Group (Heavy), becoming USAAF designation Station 142*. The group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses as part of the Eighth Air Force’s strategic bombing campaign. This is a remnant of the North Runway and a runaway summer storm travelling across it.
It’s still here, or sizeable clues still are. The road just up from here, running between Stalland Road and a kink in the Attleborough Road marks the main NE runway, to the left you can still see the remainder of the concrete that would have been that runway, I think the road is probably built directly onto the concrete surface, I’m guessing this. It would originally have extended about 50ft to the left as well. In fact I remember as a teenager belting along this road pillion on my nephews motorbike, he and his siblings had taken their first faltering dips of the clutch on the concrete, we used to use this long straight just to get that front wheel lift. I was aware even then that it was a runway and that thousands of boys mostly slightly older than we were in 1985 had thundered along here, in winged vehicles 40 years earlier, tyres the height of my car on the same lumps and bumps we did. hitting around 115mph to achieve sufficient lift to take off, form up into streams and go and bomb The German industrial heartlands, cities and military targets throughout Europe.
It is slowly being reclaimed, barley ripples on one side and rape seed crackles on the other. This is as it should be really. It was only ever a temporary thing, forced into the landscape and there is after all a fixed memorial to the men who flew from here not far away. Nature has encroached onto the remaining concrete here; there are larger patches of it, but no other continuous straight like this. The technical area is now farms and businesses, the aircraft hard standing has chicken sheds and tractors on it. The control tower has gone. Most of the taxiway is there, but on private farmland, the runways are only really visible in a series of morse code blips in the fields and the echoes of their lines in the hedgerows. There are a few buildings here and there, sheet built prefab style accommodation blocks hidden in farms and the firing butts are probably findable behind some houses.
As I sat in my car in the torrential rain with lightning licking around, maybe two cars shot by, One slowed to get past and caught my glance. I’m always left wondering when I’m doing this, if those other people have any idea of the multi-layered nature of what they’re travelling through, these ghosts in a landscape.
I’ll upload some more interesting concrete shortly.
*for nerds: 8th Air Force (728th Bombardment Squadron (9Z), 729th Bombardment Squadron (M3), 730th Bombardment Squadron (6K), 731st Bombardment Squadron (7D)).
© Nick Stone