The Airfield

Map of Hethel Airfield c1943

Hethel Airfield was a major base for the US Army Airforce during the Second World War. Although located just outside the boundary of Wreningham, its proximity was always of significance. The main occupant was the 389th Bombardment Group flying B-24 “Liberator” bombers. Arriving in 1943, they departed for home in the the second half of 1944.

The above map shows the main (2,000 yard) runway – diagonally NE /SW. Top left is where the bombs were stored whilst the right-hand side covers the extensive headquarters, maintenance, medical, entertainment and accommodation zones. This latter area became home to many local civilians during the post-war housing shortage.

American hospitality during WW2

Post WW2 – at “The Camp” – the old Hethel Airfield

In 1954, there was an investigation to determine if the main runway could be extended by another 600-700 yards. That would have resulted in Hethel’s runway becoming about the same length as the secondary/standby runway at Gatwick! Fortunately for us, the investigation determined there were too many issues – although the direct proximity of Wreningham wasn’t one of them!

Comprehensive information about the WW2 period at the airfield is available here. Information about the 389th Bomb Group Memorial Exhibition at Hethel is here.

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