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Thread: RAF Little Staughton

  1. #1
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    Default RAF Little Staughton


    On the border between Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, Little Staughton village is in Beds, with the airfield itself just over the border into Cambridgeshire in the area known as Staughton Moor.

    During WW2, Little Staughton airfield was built in 41/42 to Class A standard. In 1942, it was handed over to the USAAF who later decided that the supporting road network wasn't good enough. After using it for a couple of years, they handed it back to the RAF.

    The RAF officially took over Little Staughton on March 1, 1944. On April l, the `C' Flights of No. 7 Squadron at Oakington and No. 156 Squadron at Upwood were transferred with their Lancasters to Little Staughton to form No. 582 Squadron. Next day, No. 109 Squadron with its Mosquitos came in from Marham. These two squadrons were to be the only occupants of the station for the remainder of hostilities. No. 582 flew its first raid on the night of April 9/10, 1944 and its last on April 25, 1945, a total of 165 raids during which it lost 28 Lancasters.

    Two Victoria Crosses were awarded posthumously to Little Staughton airmen. On December 23, 1944, Squadron Leader Robert Palmer, a No. 109 Squadron pilot flying a No. 582 Lancaster, perished after determinedly attacking the target despite crippling damage to his aircraft. Then on the night of February 23/24, 1945, Captain Edwin Swales of No. 582 Squadron lost his life in a gallant effort to save both his crew and aircraft.

    A few weeks back, I paid Little Staughton a visit and located the Battle Headquarters. At the time, the field it sits in was full of wheat and the farmer was harvesting a neighbouring field, so taking a closer look wasn't a viable option. I went back the following week and found the farmer had cut the field as expected - but was now ploughing - so I then had to make a 3rd visit, finally getting to take a closer look.

    The original airfield is now converted to civilian use, with light aircraft and gliders using parts of it, with other areas converted to industrial use. A lot of old buildings remain, including this rare robin hangar and the tower just off in the distance.





    The battle headquarters is the raised cupola type. The main entrance and emergency hatch have been covered at some point in the past, suggesting someone once took care of it, but sadly it now seems to be neglected and slowly decaying. Internally, it has been very heavily flooded. This was starting to subside, but not enough for me to tackle an internal explore.









    On top of the BHQ there was a base, for what looks to have been some sort of small AA or similar gun.



    As it was a nice evening, I took a walk down the footpath along the field border and quickly realised that neighbouring woods had obviously been the site of a communal site for the WW2 airfield. Things then became less like an explore and more like an archaeological dig. The whole site was literally covered in WW2 artefacts. I found the whole thing electrifying. I've explored a lot of WW2 sites, but never touched and held the same items the original occupants made use of in their daily lives. The thought that some of the crockery may have been used by people who never came home was pretty poignant.







    The woods were obviously well inhabited by rabbits, who were progressively unearthing all the dumped WW2 remains. Amongst the thousands of broken bottles and plates, there were various other random items, including the remains of a bike crank and light.





    I coudln't for the life of me figure out what this was, but to all intents and purposes, it looked like the remains of a small aircraft tyre.



    The one which really touched me the most though was this. It reminded me of photos I've seen of Auschwitz and similar places and made me stop and think how it may actually have belonged to someone fighting to stop the exact same thing.


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  3. #2
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    Fantastic Report Hypo. I love the old USAAF Airfields although I also find them terribly7 sad as well. We Will Remember them!
    And a dreadful thing from the cliff did spring. And its wild bark thrilled around. His eyes had the glow of the fires below. Twas the form of the Spectre Hound. 'Ha' yer fa'r got a dickey, bor?' 'Yis, an' he want a fule ter roide 'im, will yew cum?'

  4. #3
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    Very interesting report! I've certainly never seen that amount of stuff scattered around a site before, its defiantly a good find!
    "To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day."

  5. #4
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    Very sobering to see those small remains and to me it always brings it home that these places were about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Fascinating find.
    Cheers, Hypo. :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

    I can't read and I can't write, but that don't really matter,
    I come from the west country and I can drive a tractor.


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  6. #5
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    Excellant find Hypo..very thought provoking too

  7. #6
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    Thanks for all the comments. I can only assume that when they left the place after the war, they simply dug a big hole and bulldozed everything into it. I'd guess this must have been fairly common practice once the place had served its purpose, but I've not seen anything like it anywhere else. Every other base I've visited was almost completely devoid of all the little human touches.

  8. #7
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    I grew up less than 10 miles from Little Staughton, and never knew of this place. An excellent explore, and one that I'll be certainly looking at the next time I'm at the parental's ;)
    KingofDerby : "Oh no, you've messed up the prospectus!"
    Jimba : "But what if there's an open day tomorrow?!"

    Definitely not someone from Derby : "Do you think the World War II people had lunch?!"

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apopcalyptic View Post
    I grew up less than 10 miles from Little Staughton, and never knew of this place. An excellent explore, and one that I'll be certainly looking at the next time I'm at the parental's ;)
    It's probably worth a look during the week if you do visit. The control tower looks to be intact, but the industrial estate it's on is barricaded off weekends, which stopped me getting a closer look.

  10. Thanks given by: russell Turnock

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DerelictPlaces is a forum for people with an interest in the history and documentation of disused, derelict and abandoned buildings to come together and share their experiences, photography and historical findings. Our military, industrial and historical heritage is fast disappearing under the pressure of regeneration, the need for new housing, and often through simple neglect; Our aim is to document these places before they disappear entirely.
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