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

The Wartime Memories Project

- RAF Tuddenham during the Second World War -

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RAF Tuddenham

   RAF Tuddenham opened in October 1943. The first squadron to arrive were 90 Sqd RAF flying Stirling bombers. They converted to Lancasters in May 44 and were to remain at this base fro the remainder of the war.

In October 1944 186 Sqd reformed at Tuddenham, leaving for Stradishall in December 44. At that time 138 Sqn moved here from Tempsford and converted to Lancasters, remaining until November 1946.

During the war 17 Stirlings and 36 Lancasters were lost on operations from Tuddenham.

After the war the base was used by the USAF as satellite to Pickenham, until 1959. The site was then in use by 107 Sqn with Thor missiles. The base closed in July 1963.

Today the site has reverted to agriculture.

Squadrons stationed at RAF Tuddenham

  • No. 90 Squadron. Oct 1943 to Nov 1946
  • No 186 Squadron. Oct 1944 to Dec 1944
  • No. 138 Squadron. Dec 1944 to Nov 1946


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

Those known to have served at

RAF Tuddenham

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Bazell Rowland James George. Sgt.
  • Branch Charles. Flt.Sgt.
  • Cresswell Frederick Alan. (d.19th Feb 1945)
  • Doyle DFM. Thomas George.
  • Dunn Stan William Radcliff. WO.
  • Fry DFM.. Sidney Francis. W/O.
  • Herriot Frank Sidney. LAC.
  • Johnston Stanley Cameron Kelbie. WO
  • Leather Peter J.. Sgt. (d.26th Aug 1944)
  • Ward John. F/Lt. (d.30th Nov 1944)
  • Wilding Don.
  • Wright James Benjamin. F/O.

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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Thomas George Doyle DFM 90 Squadron

My late grandfather was Thomas George Doyle DFM from Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. He served at RAF Tuddenham as a Navigator with 90 Squadron, from 1943 onward.

Helen Donegan

WO Stanley Cameron Kelbie "Jock" Johnston A Flight 90 Sqd.

Posted Tuddenham in December 1944 at the age of 19 as a crew. I was mid/gunner With F/Sgt Frank.S.M Smith operating Lancaster WP E and stayed on station till the finish of the hostilities not leaving till 1946 when the Sqn moved to R A F Wyton. I am know as the archivist with 90 sqn families and friends. 90 sqn meets at booth the Mildonhall register and holds a diner and wreath laying each year, please contact me at for more information I have a large collection of recorded memorabilia. As a group we are always willing to help those interested in the second world war.

SCK Johnston

W/O. Sidney Francis Fry DFM. 90 Squadron

My father, Sidney Francis Fry flew as a mid gunner on Lancasters from Tuddenham airfield in Norfolk and possibly other airfields as well. He was seriously wounded in the leg, resulting in its amputation, whilst returning from an attack on Brunswick in August 1944.I understand that the young rear gunner met his death on the same mission. My father was subsequently awarded the DFM.

The pilot in command on this mission was - I understand - 182615 Flying Officer Eric Charles Bowley whose prowess as a pilot meant that the aircraft successfully returned to base despite extensive damage.

I am trying to trace anyone who knew my father during his time in the RAF and would be most grateful if there is anybody who possesses a photograph of the crew with which my father flew.

Deborah Jane Fry

Sgt. Peter J. Leather 90 Sqd. (d.26th Aug 1944)

My husband's uncle, Sgt Peter J. Leather, flew out of Tuddenham on Operation Kiel on the 26th August 1944 and unfortunately never made it back. He was about 19 at the time. The plane was Lancaster HK604 WP-G. The bodies of three of the crew were found on Sylt but the others have never been found.

Sharon Leather

LAC. Frank Sidney Herriot 90 Squadron

Frank Herriot served in the RAF with 90 and 186 squadron, at Dumfries, Gibraltar, Tuddenham, Stradishall and in Italy.

M Herriot

Flt.Sgt. Charles "Grandad" Branch Section 3 90 Squadron

Charles Branch joined up 8 June 1943 aged 37 and after AGS Andreas IOM 17 Sep 1943 was posted to Tuddenham 90 Squadron 1651 CU on 8 May 1944 when they were equipping with Lancaster MkIII B aircraft. He flew over 30 missions with an aircrew :
  • Pilot R.F.Smith,
  • Navigator C.Sharpe,
  • Flight Engineer T.J.Thomas,
  • Wireless Officer N.C.Piper,
  • Air Bomber M.R.Stanning,
  • Mid gunner (Canadian) H.G.Price (RCAF: R223574),
  • Rear Gunner C. Branch.

Charles was later posted to 1445/H Gunnery School as a Gunnery Instructor. Prior to joining the RAF he was a qualified Tool Maker and Gun Assembler based in Birmingham.

Missions were flown in Lancaster MkIII LM615 B which had a picture of the pilot's Wren wife Eileen on the fuselage near the cockpit. LM615 was flown by two other crews and the missions in it with Charles Branch included 2nd July 1944 Beauvoir, 5 July Watten, 10 July Nucourt, 18 July Aulnoye, 28th July Stuttgart. Charles left the service 28 March 1946 and today is survived by his two daughters Elizabeth and Patricia.

Elizabeth Worbey nee Branch

WO. Stan William Radcliff Dunn 90 Sqdn.

On 4th July 1944 my father Stan Dunn joined Heavy Conversion Unit at Wratting Common, Cambridgeshire, `B` Flight, flying its Stirling aircraft as rear gunner. His pilot was F.S. Boothman. They then moved on to Lancaster Finishing School on 8th August. After a short stay they then went back to HCU Wratting Common on 5th September with a different Pilot, F.O. Orr, finishing on the 12th. He then returned to Lancaster Finishing School and completed training.

He joined 90 Squadron `A` Flight at Tuddenham on 10th October 1944. He flew 36 missions in the mid upper turret, including Dresden on 13th and 14th February 1945, on which he spent his 21st birthday over the target. His last operation was on the 28th February 1945. He left the Air Force in 1947 after serving in Air Movements flying in York 3.

Paul John Dunn

Frederick Alan Cresswell 90 Squadron (d.19th Feb 1945)

Frederick Cresswell flew as an air gunner with Squadron Leader Harold Reid in 20 missions over Germany. He was stationed at RAF Tuddenham, flying Lancasters. In his final mission he was under the command of Wing Commander Dunham. Now buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery. He was cousin to my late father-in-law, Cyril Cresswell.

Sgt. Rowland James George Bazell B Flight 90 Squadron

I joined the RAF in August 1942. I had previously applied for Air Crew duties but was turned down because of “unstable colour vision” so entered the service as a flight mechanic under training. My first 6 weeks consisted of basic training (drill, marching, arms drill, PT etc.) at Blackpool.

At the end of the 6 weeks training I was sent to RAF Halton. About half way through this course an appeal was launched for training as Flight-Engineer. This was a new air-crew category specifically for the four-engined bombers then coming into service. I applied for this and was successful, so instead of being sent out to a squadron at the end of this flight-mechanic training, I had to stay on at Halton for a Fitter course and then onto St. Athen for a Flight-Engineers course specific to the aircraft I would eventually fly on, namely the Stirling.

Having passed this course I was sent to 90 squadron of 3 Group, Bomber Command, then stationed at Tuddenham, Nr Mildenhall in Suffolk. My thoughts on the Stirling - being a very robust aircraft and fitted with Hercules air-cooled engines, it was much the safer aircraft in which to fly. It withstood crash landings better and, whereas the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines with which the Lancaster were fitted were magnificent engines, they were liquid cooled and just a bullet or two in the cooling system would rapidly put the engine out of action; whereas I have known air-cooled Hercules engines still give out some power even with a cylinder shot away. However, because of its heavier build, the Sterling did not have the performance of the Lancaster and were eventually replaced by them on “Main Force” targets.

The types of missions which my squadron undertook while I was with them are described below: The Main Force targets, mentioned above, were the well known bombing missions on German towns and industrial targets, involving many aircraft concentrated over as little time as possible, to saturate defences. This meant contending with masses of search lights, flak, fighters, shot and shell.

Mine Laying - it may not be generally known but at least three quarters of all mines laid within enemy waters were dropped by the RAF. These had to be accurately placed and this called for very accurate navigation. Our navigator, Peter Ashford, was excellent; throughout every flight, even when he knew fairly certainly where we were, he continually checked his calculations. Peter was an expert astro-navigator, in fact after we finished our operational service, he went to the Air Ministry and produced a training manual on the subject, which was used as a basic training manual for years afterwards. He would get me to take endless star-shots and he continuously consulted his GEE box - a very useful early electronic navigation aid. This aid could be unreliable but when it was used mainly over this country and into France, we found it to be very accurate. Due to Peter’s expertise, our crew were given many specialist operations.

Bombing - apart from the first two, our bombing missions were confined mainly to the near coast of France. These targets were small and did not reveal themselves by searchlight / flak etc, hence accurate navigation was needed. These targets were mainly coastal gun emplacements and launching sites for the V-weapons.

Supply Drops - again very small targets often just a map reference in the middle of a wood. To help find them, these trips were always in full moonlight and at low level, generally 500ft, so that the parachutes were in the air for the shortest possible time to avoid detection. We would overfly the target, not circle around, to ensure we did not attract attention. To ascertain we had the right spot, we had to look for a small light (mainly small electric hand torches) flashing a previously agreed letter or letters, which we had to recognise immediately or we were instructed to fly on and bring the load back. We never failed to drop our load.

It was on one of these drops, I think the one dated 29th April, that we took a passenger with us. She was brought out to our aircraft just as we were about to take off. There was absolute secrecy about this, no mention of it in squadron operational records or our log books - she did not in fact exist. Just before reaching her destination, which had been given to our navigator verbally just before take off, he alerted me to go aft, open the rear bottom escape hatch, attach her package to the static line, get her in position to jump (after also attaching her parachute to the static line). At the navigator’s order to “go”, I pushed the package out and she immediately followed. I can just remember her small white face behind her goggles as she dropped into the night. What courage! She was on a on-way trip, we at least had a chance of getting home! The rear gunner reported seeing both parachutes open but as we were very low and had to fly straight on, that was all we saw. Did she survive? Was she captured by the Germans? I would love to know what happened to this very courageous lady.

Andy Bazell

F/Lt. John "Jo" Ward 90 Sqd. (d.30th Nov 1944)

Jo Ward had amassed 42 operations as the pilot of Lancaster PD 269. He was then given a desk job. The first night PD 269 was going out without him he wondered who was taking his place. When he found out who it was he changed the crew and put himself back in. The reason being he knew his replacement, and also knew he was married with a number of children. They took off on operation Bottrop. A following aircraft saw PD 269 hit by anti air craft fire directly in the bomb bay with a full load of bombs still on board. The crew on the following Lancaster said PD 269 simply disappeared in a ball of flame. Nothing left.

The pilot Jo replaced wrote to Jo's mother at Christmas every year until 1963, when she died. They always thanked her for her son and his sacrifice for them. Jo was 23 when he died. Jo's parents, and brothers and sister never knew if there was anything found of Jo. All have now passed away.

In the last two years two NZ university students who spent two years in Europe identifying, cleaning, and photographing each of NZ's war dead from WW1 and WW2. About 18 months ago I put Jo's ID into the internet and out it popped. Now I know in a small German Forest lays Jo. I still have my Father's ashes and hopefully one day I can put them together so they both won't be alone again.

Frank Ward

Don Wilding

I served in the RAF from 1943 until 1947, first as an electrician, then as a radar/mechanic/air in Bomber Command, then Transport Command. My main stations were at Tuddenham, Mildenhall, Upwood and Wymeswold. I was, at one time, with a Canadian squadron.

Don Wilding

F/O. James Benjamin Wright 186 Squadron

186 squadron; Dad & crew

My dad, James Wright served as navigator with 186 Squadron on Lancasters flying out of Tuddenham, then Stradishall, from February to June 1945, flying 18 missions over Germany. His pilot was F/Lt Head.

John Wright

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