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Ridgewell Airfield

Ridgewell is one of the many former World War II airfields sites in East Anglia. It is situated on the high plain between Ashen, Ovington and Tilbury Green about 1.5 miles from Ridgewell, and Stoke by Clare. The airfield was opened in December 1942 and used first by the RAF as a base for No 90 Squadron, flying Stirling Bombers. From June 1943 until the end of the war the 381st Bombardment Group of the USAAF 8th Air Force was based here. The 381st flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from this airfield.

RAF No. 90 Squadron of No.3 Group arrived at the airfield in December 1942 before construction had been fully completed. RAF No. 90 Squadron consisted of Stirling bombers.

Unfortunately losses were very high during No. 90 Squadron’s temporary stay at Ridgewell. Some 24 Stirling bombers failed to return during the course of the raids in WW2 and another three were lost during non-operational accidents.

Ridgewell was handed over to the US Eighth Air Force in June 1943 whereupon the 381st Bombardment Group and its four B-17 (Flying Fortresses) Squadrons took residence. The 381st Group remained at Ridgewell until the end of WW2 in 1945. During the time that the 381st Group were at Ridgewell they flew 296 missions and incurred 131 losses. Ridgewell was later handed back to the RAF where it remained under the care of 94 and 95 maintenance units dealing with munitions disposal, until March 1957.

Portions of the road and runways remain, some of which are now used by the Essex Gliding Club. There are two memorials, one to the men of 90 Squadron RAF and one to those of the 381st Bomb Group. These are located near the former base hospital where a small museum can also be found. This is open on the second Sunday of each month or by arrangement (http://www.381st.com).

Other bases nearby are at Sudbury and further afield at Thorpe Abbotts (http://www.100bgmus.org.uk).

For further information on the Essex Gliding Club and taking flights with them over the Ridgewell Airfield, please see the Essex Gliding Club entry on this site.

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Written by sally anne



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  1. […] further historic information on Ridgewell Airfield, please see the Ridgewell Airfield¬†entry on this […]

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