​​Western 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 western area of airfield was used by the 100th Bombardment Group. Most of the infrastructure is now returned to agricultural use, and these fields and woods are where the bomb dump was once located.

t the corner of Wood Lane, which turns north towards Common Road, the light brown concrete can still be seen today. This is the remains of the perimeter track that ran parallel to the main runway. Continuing on Wood Lane in a northern direction leads straight through where the runway once stood.

Looking west along the old perimeter track, this is where the B-17 aircraft of the 100th Bombardment Group taxied to and from the runway prior to take off or after landing.

A small track runs off to the south and then alongside a small, wooded area (Billingford Wood). It was just south of this wood that a small hospital (sick quarters) was situated at the airfield. Injured aircrew and ground crew received treatment on site, whilst more severe cases were evacuated from the airfield. Local children recall playing in the woods close to the hospital or passing to go fishing in local ponds. They recalled how they chatted with the American crews, who always had time for them. The children lived in local houses within the confines of the airfield.

Further along, the track leads into a large, wooded area just north of Brick Kiln Farm, as it was known. This was the bomb stores (dump) for the airfield. Prior to operations, ground crew loaded up bomb trolleys and took the explosives to the dispersal areas around the airfield, where they were loaded onto the B-17 aircraft.

A young boy recalled how, one day a mid-air collision took place between two B-17’s. One of them crashed down onto the bomb dump. Very quickly the ground crews began to evacuate the area as fires broke out. There was a real risk of the bombs all exploding, and military police also started to evacuate local houses. Some of the locals, including Mrs Taylor, refused to leave, stating that the German air raids hadn’t forced her to leave so she was not leaving for this. The crashed B-17 landed on an area of incendiary bombs and after several hours the fires were extinguished. It was lucky that it did not land on the high explosive bomb area. This event highlighted the dangers of being around the airfields, not only for the military but for local civilians.


​​Wood Lane, Billingford​, ​​Diss​, Norfolk, ​​IP21 4​PH