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Tail of a 100ARW Boeing KC-135A-BN Stratotanker, Serial 58-0100, displaying the crest of RAF Mildenhall and the historic "SquareD" badge as used by the unit during the second world war
RAF Thorpe Abbotts is a former World War II airfield in Englandmarker. The field is located 4 miles E of Dissmarker in Norfolk.


Thorpe Abbotts airfield was built during 1942 and early 1943 for the RAF as a satellite airfield for RAF Horhammarker but the rapid buildup of the 8th Air Force resulted in both airfields being handed over to the Americans. The thirty-six hardstandings originally planned were increased to fifty. Two T-2 hangars were erected, one on the east side of the flying field and one on the south side adjacent to the technical site. This and several of the domestic sites were in woodland stretching south and bordering the A143 Diss to Harleston road.


Thorpe Abbotts was given USAAF designation Station 139 (TA).

100th Bombardment Group (Heavy)

The 100th Bombardment Group (Heavy) arrived at Thorpe Abbotts on 9 June 1943, from Kearney AAFmarker Nebraskamarker although construction work was barely finished. The 100th was assigned to the 13th Combat Bombardment Wing, and the group tail code was a "Square-D". Its operational squadrons were:

The group flew the B-17 Flying Fortress as part of the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign. In combat, the 100th operated chiefly as a strategic bombardment organization until the war ended.The group gained the nickname "The Bloody Hundredth" due to its heavy losses during eight missions to Germanymarker when the group experienced several instances where it lost a dozen or more aircraft on a single mission, whereas most units suffered losses in consistent small amounts.

From June 1943 to January 1944, the 100th Bomb Group concentrated its efforts against airfields in Francemarker and naval facilities and industries in France and Germany. The 100th BG received a Distinguished Unit Citation for seriously disrupting German fighter plane production with an attack on an aircraft factory at Regensburgmarker on 17 August 1943.

The unit bombed airfields, industries, marshalling yards, and missile sites in western Europe, Jan-May 1944. Operations in this period included participation in the Allied campaign against enemy aircraft factories during Big Week, 20-25 Feb 1944. The group completed a series of attacks against Berlinmarker in March 1944 and received a 2d Distinguished Unit Citation for the missions.

Beginning in the summer of 1944, oil installations became major targets. In addition to strategic operations, the group engaged in support and interdictory missions, hitting bridges and gun positions in support of the Normandy invasion in June 1944. The unit bombed enemy positions at St Lomarker in July and at Brestmarker in August and September Other missions were striking transportation and ground defenses in the drive against the Siegfried Line, Oct-Dec 1944; attacking marshalling yards, defended villages, and communications in the Ardennesmarker sector during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945; and covering the airborne assault across the Rhinemarker in March 1945.

The 100th Bomb Group received the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for attacking heavily defended installations in Germany and for dropping supplies to French Forces of the Interior, Jun-Dec 1944.

The 100 BG flew its last combat mission of World War II on 20 April 1945. The following month the unit’s aircrews dropped food to the people in the west of the Netherlandsmarker, and in June transported French Allied former prisoners of war from Austriamarker to France. The group flew 306 combat missions.

In December 1945, the group returned to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Group personnel were demobilized and the aircraft sent to storage. The unit was inactivated on 21 December 1945 and allocated to the reserve as the 100th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy).

Postwar use

The Control Tower which now forms part of a museum
After the war, the field was transferred to the RAF on 27 June 1946. After many years of inactivity, Thorpe Abbots was closed in 1956.

Civil Use

With the end of military control, the airfield was largely been returned to agricultural use with most of the perimeter track, runways and hardstands removed. A small airstrip was built on a part of the former perimeter track which is used for light aircraft. The control tower was restored in 1977 and was turned into a museum. Several World War II era buildings remain in various states of decay.

See also


  • Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0900913096
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1991) The Mighty Eighth The Colour Record. Cassell & Co. ISBN 0-304-35708-1
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • [362941] Thorpe Abbotts
  • [362942] Thorpe Abbotts at
  • [362943] USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present

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