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RAF Thurleigh in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

The Wartime Memories Project

- RAF Thurleigh during the Second World War -

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RAF Thurleigh

   The airfield was built in 1941. On 7th September 1942 the 306th Group started to arrive; with some of their B17s flying in the following week. From October 1942, the 306th Group mounted a long and arduous offensive suffering many losses.

The Group finally completed their long war on 19th April 1945 which was their 342nd mission; the second highest for any B17 Group. During its time at Thurleigh over 9,600 sorties had been flown with the loss of 171 aircraft in action and over 22,500 tons of bombs were dropped.

In 1946 construction work began on the airfield to turn the site into what became know as the Royal Aeronautical Establishment, Bedford. The airfield was finally closed in 1997.

Squadrons stationed at RAF Thurleigh

  • 367th Bomb Squadron
  • 368th Bomb Squadron
  • 369th Bomb Squadron
  • 423rd Bomb Squadron


6th Jul 1944 Royal Visit

If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

Those known to have served at

RAF Thurleigh

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Did you know? We also have a section on The Great War. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.

Stephen Tanella 367th BS 306 Bomb Group

My father, Stephen Tanella, is a veteran of World War 2 and was stationed at Thurleigh Airforce Base with the 306th Bomb Group, 367th BS. He served as a bombardier on the B-17G named the "Rose of York" as it was dedicated by the then Princess Elizabeth.

John Tanella

Belcik 306th B17 Sqdn.

If anyone has information about an airman who served in US Air Force 306th B17 Squadron by the name of Belcik would they please get in touch. I am trying to gather information on 306th's base airfield at Thurleigh on behalf of a colleague.

David Taylor

Tech. Sgt. George G. Roberts

I was stationed at Thurleigh, Bedfordshire from September 1943 until July 1944. I was a technical sergeant and flew as a radio operator/gunner on a B17 bomber. The last one was the `Rose of York' which was christened by Princess Elizabeth on 6th July 1944.

I completed my combat tour and returned to the States at the end of July. I was discharged from the Air Force at the end of September 1945. I am still active in Air Force organisations and serve as VP of the Second Schweinfurt Memorial Associaton. We flew that mission on 14th October 1942 when 60 bombers were shot down.

George G Roberts

Belcik 306th B17 Bomb Sqdn.

I am researching Thurleigh Airfield, home of 306th B17 Bomber Squadron, pre-1945. Can anyone help?

David Taylor

Lt. John F. Taylor 306th Bomb Group

My father, Lt John F Taylor was a member of the 306th Bomb Group, USAAF, stationed at Thurleigh, England. His B17 the "Belle of the Blue" was shot down over Germany in 1944.

Jason Taylor

S/Sgt. Harry C. Moore 306th Bomb Group

My grandfather, S/Sgt Harry C Moore was the flight engineer on board the B17 the "Belle of the Blue". I have been looking for anyone with more information on the plane. I have a picture of the plane and some other pics, including one of my grandfather in a POW camp after he was shot down in 1944. I know he was on both Schweinfurt missions and flew several missions on the "Rose of York" as well.

Jason Moore

Recomended Reading.

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Bomber Bases of World War 2, Airfields of 1st Air Division (USAAF) Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire

Martin Bowman

Covers the units who flew the legendary B-17 Flying Fortress. This book looks at the history and personalities associated with each base, what remains and explores the favourite local wartime haunts where aircrew and ground crew would have gone. It covers museums and places that are relevant.


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