​​Northern Perimeter, Station 139​

United Kingdom




​​​The airfield Station 139, Thorpe Abbots was spread out over a large area with different functions and facilities for the upwards of 2,000 personnel who were based here. This northern area of the airfield was mainly used by the 351st Bombardment Squadron. Most of the infrastructure has now been returned to agricultural use, but some of the houses and one dispersal pan remains.

​​​Dispersal pans are the sites where aircraft stand when not in use. Station 159 had a total of 50 dispersal pans, with numbers one to thirteen used for the 351st Bombardment Squadron.

The entrance gate to Station 139 was to the west along Common Lane, before the junction with Hall Lane. The Taylors' family house was at the junction of Common Lane and Wood Lane. It was still occupied by the family and was just inside the security perimeter of the airfield.

The thirteen dispersal pans were located along the perimeter track that ran parallel to the runway, running in an east to west direction. Number one was to the west and number thirteen to the east, beyond where the museum is now located. Today, number five is the only remaining concrete area.

Just beyond the Taylors’ back garden to the west, about 100 yards away, was dispersal pan number two. Here, there was a gunnery hut to which, after each operation, the machine guns from the aircraft would be returned. The mechanics stripped the guns and carried out maintenance, before returning them to the B-17 aircraft. The 351st Engineers office was positioned in the rear garden of the Taylors' house.

Opposite the Taylors' house was one of the two airfields main fuel stores. The pumps were directly opposite, and tankers came to replenish their fuel supplies here before moving off to areas around Station 139.

Mrs Taylor, who lived in the house, assisted with the laundry of the 351st Engineers who were stationed at the airfield. The family quickly got to know the American men who were based here, and the children used to go up to the men at the airfield and ask, “Got any gum chum?” (chewing gum). The ground crews also let the children living there assist in cleaning the dispersal areas. Soaked in high octane fuel, the children were given light rags to throw on the pans, which would quickly ignite, burning off the fuel and oil. The ground crews then cleaned the pans ready for the return of the aircraft. The children were also invited to sit in the cockpits of the B-17 aircraft when engine checks were conducted.

Drapers Farm is located along Thorpe Abbots Road on the right as you head east. The farm sat in between dispersal pans five and six, and some of the barns were used to store aircraft parts.


​​Common Road, Dickleburgh​, ​​Diss​, Norfolk, ​​IP21 4PH​