The day I saw a ghost on one of America's airbases in Norfolk...

Wednesday, 1 April 2009


If you just drove past a gap in the fields you might think, what is it
about this place that makes it different to the rest of the scenery.
The trees and buildings and roads along the last mile seemed okay
but suddenly, I just drove up what seems a shortcut and all of a
sudden I am in an open space and the wind is biting my head off.
My car stands in a kind of semi dark as I try to sense my whereabouts
and all I can see is a huge open space albeit one or two old buildings
lost in the evening shadow. I drive down this road and I come to a
farm on what seems is a concrete loop and then another loop and
then rusty tractors and ploughs left with a few old cars from bygone
days. I had the wife and kids so I could not stop but when I reached
the village and beyond I never forgot that place. In fact, it did cross
my mind that it was a factory plant or had been because there were
metal gates at each turn. I moved into a bungalow some three miles
south of this territory and never gave it a thought until I stepped
out of my car again on a sunny day and found myself at the same
lonely and mysterious place - but less ominous now due to the lovely
sunshine and pheasants feeding on the farmers feed.
It was a real pleasure walking around and then I saw some concrete
runway and it occured to me that was what I had drove on that night.
The more I looked the more I recognised an old and deserted airfield
void of any buildings as such and no sign of a Tower. Later that day
I visited the local library and there were several books on airfields
in my area. One about Deopham Green where the flying fortresses
set off daily on those frightening raids. There was a map and a sort
of picture taken from the sky showing the exact location of dispersals
pans and runway and much more. I even found the bomb dump and
in one old building I found an helmet and first aid kit. I also learned
about those dreadful raids and the heavy losses.
One airman walks in the early hours of the morning towards the spot
where the Tower was and if you are still staying around, you will hear
in the wind the distinct sound of engines starting up. It has been said
that a local farmer had seen from his back window some activity on
the other side of the old airfield. Activity not linked to his time.
He had seen what looked like a ground staff member pushing a bike
down the central road that was part of the runway. The uniformed
man was only seen by the torso and hands but the bicycle was complete was a man he said. The spectre had been watched for about five
minutes. On another occasion, a man had stopped to releive himself
at the runway but as he was back in his car with the window wound
down and he playing a dance band tune ...a pilot in flying gear
appeared to his right and just stared icily at him before disappearing.
Obviously, he thought he had upset the spook by the loud music and
did not respect the slab of rememberance that had been recently
put there and had not noticed when toileting..
Old Buckingham is another listed airfield now used for car boots and
some gliding. Very little remains but James Stewart had served there
fondly before moving to Tibenham. In the Norwich library, the central
city for Norfolk, a section is donated to the 8th Air force that flew their
bombers from so many airfields in East Anglia. It houses some original
books and autobiographies etc..James Stewart in photograph on his
base has been used as a dividing wall and you can also watch films in
the film archives showing bases with their planes and airmen and the
books are endless. If you would like to grasp the feel of such a place
full of memories then pay Norwich a visit, it is a lovely city and hire
a car to take you around these historic places. You have many people
that are enthusiasts wanting to preserve the old bases and would be
so happy to show you about and explain every inch of the site and what
it was used for. You cannot escape these places. At a certain time of
day whilst visiting , you are bound to be caught in its spell and be trans-
fixed by the past, held by the memory and the huge sense of loss that
never forsakes these forlorn places...

Norfolk airfields. Ghosts. Visiting Norfolk. Flights and hotels. Norwich
Library. Bookshops for local interest.

Monday, 30 March 2009


There is a small village called Thorpe Abbots between Norwich and Diss in
the lovely county of Norfolk. This picturesque hamlet was soon to have all
their lives changed when suddenly one morning, several cement laying
machines entered the village with workmen announcing they would be
constructing an airfield on the land surrounding their homes. The old
Farmers that leased their land to the Ministry had said little and so the
gossip was like wildfire as all the shrubbery, trees, plants etc was dug up
leaving the acres all around them looking bare.
Then the work began. The painstaking hard work of levelling off .
They had just 10 weeks to lay the concrete and raise all the necassary
buildings to go with it. Then the locals waited. Gossip never abated at
the little post office or the local pub and even when the first GIs arrived
from America, they still could not understand why all the fuss. Then they
came in their hundreds. Two days of the local railway at Diss being kept
busy with servicemen. Then they were at the site. The 100th Bomb group
that later in years became a living legend in the USAAF also known has
the Bloody Hundredth - because of its appalling and crippling losses of
aircraft and men during a short spell into the war. Often labelled the
'jinx outfit. Over 177 aircraft went missing and some 730 airmen killed.
In 2002, I made a visit to this little village and was pleasantly surprised
to still see concrete posts and some wire fencing skirting the airfield.
In fact the airfield integrated with part of the village. Much of one road
became half the perimeter track. You can still see sections of concrete
bases that held constructions such as tool sheds and fixits. I had left
my car and walked around the long road with a book and map of the
airfield so I could recognise where things were. For instance, north of
the perimeter track the concrete was now used by the farmers bales
but I could see the iron loops that secured the planes. The gutters where
the rain drained and pans where the planes anchored. When I got half
way I saw a huge gap in the hedge and knew that the main runway had
gone into the next field. Then I saw the tower (now a museum) and
some other parts of the runway and so on.
The Tower looked a forlorn testimony standing alone in the wintertime,
now deserted of all that important activity. The windows dark and very
empty. The skies above that were always full, now only with blackening
clouds as a little rain fell making the mood very depressive.
And then, I saw someone. In the left window of the tower breaking up
the dark. Like a small torchlight glowed for a few moments and then
a dark piece of small mass moving away from the glassless opening...
I had thought that someone was caretaking the Tower or had it opened
for that day, maybe for a special visit by one of the veterans(s). So it
did not bother me to walk up the track and come behind the Tower to
satisfy my curiousity. When I came to the metal door painted grey,
I found it firmly locked. I looked around but saw no cars parked in
the car park. Then I felt all alone, indeed after some quick moments
I knew I was. I walked to the front of the Tower and saw no-one. I had
cried out but no one acknowledged. I knew what I saw. I had seen a
lit face and part of a body in that tower and though of enormous interest
to all those volunteers that kept the place in immaculate condition,
no one had been in that Tower that weekend...
There are not many Towers remaining in Norfolk. Seething, Thorpe
Abbots, Horsham(now our main airport at Norwich). There is one
delapidated tower in Rackheath almost lost under vines and bramble
and taken over as a breakers yard, (like many other airfields) There
are numerous airfields with the odd Tower in the neighboring County
of Suffolk all with interesting tales to tell. Many hauntings of dead
Americans left to roam those wasted spaces many miles from home......

keywords: Books: Wartime airfields of East Anglia. Ghosts of Norfolk.
Norfolk Hauntings. Norfolk in wartime.
Visiting Norwich. Accomodation and flights. The Norfolk Broads.
Visiting Norwich.


In north Norfolk, running along the coast, there is a small place called
Mucleburgh. There you will find many old tanks , being leftovers from
the war. I had passed this site so many times and had no compulsion
to stop by, that is, until I had heard of a ghost that haunts the offices
there. Apparently, one late summer evening, when all the visitors had
left and the caretaker was about to lock up; he felt someone had passed
him. Behind him was the hallway that led to the back office. The care-
taker decided to take a look and has he stepped into the passage he
caught a glimpse of a person in uniform going through that office door.
The door was locked. He was not allowed a key for that room. It was
locked when visitors came on the weekend to see the tanks in the hangers.
The caretaker described the figure as being 5ft 10 and lean and wearing
a RAF uniform. When the office was later opened, nothing was amiss,
but in a black and white photograph on the wall, a group of airmen
who had used the premises during the war were standing shoulder to
shoulder and the caretaker recognised one of them as being the figure
that had passed him on that unforgetable Sunday.....
Another place of note was the old airfield at Bircham Newton near to
Hunstanton. This was a bomber base for the RAF I believe, although it
had some American activity at some point. There were many deaths
linked to this site of course, when bombers didn't return from their
missions, or in some cases, some apparently did come back but not to
take to the skies anymore, but to take up other interests on the old base.
It has been reported that at the end of the base is a squash court used
by many airmen at that time. There have been sightings of certain men
in uniforms passing through the building. An investigating team that
was linked to TV had visited the squash court and left sound equipment
and mini cameras and any other detecting device. They left the site
for two days completely secured and on their return found that a micro-
phone had been turned upwards and around. They also heard footsteps
and murmurings and much activity. Photographs revealed effects of
wisps of smoke and strange tubes of light from many angles and so on.
The team felt that who ever was in the squash court knew exactly what
they were doing and played tricks on them. This site is still
being investigated to this day.
There is an airbase in Hethal, just outside of Wymondham, south of
Norwich. Home now of the Lotus car factory. This was once used by the
Americans flying Liberators. One airmen is often seen moving between
the two old hangers that have remained. A dog also comes and then
vanishes after the airman has disappeared. In a pub in Wymondham
where the Americans mixed with the locals, some say an airman walks
down the passage from the back bar plus a ghostly airman used to walk
the Tower on the old Tibenham base until the tower became unsafe and
was eventually knocked down and replaced by a modern one. The site
remains much the same and is now used for gliders.....

(more to come)

Keywords: Visiting Norfolk. The Norfolk Broads. Wartime Memories of
Norfolk. Norfolk Ghosts. Flights to Norwich. Accomodation.

Saturday, 28 March 2009


I have lived in Norfolk. Mainly around the old air bases once used during the
war by the Americans. Once I drove out to small villages such as Tibenham,
Old Buckingham, Thorpe Abbots, Hardwick and Seething just to name a few
south of Norwich. Most of those stations have long gone disappeared under
the grass or cleared to bring back the fields again. Some old runways and
perimeter track remain in airfields but if you didn't know the history, you
would not know they were once there. If you get one of the old airfield books
and see how it was, you can possibly drive around and pick a few features
out, such as nissun huts and buildings. Those airfields that were once so
very busy during a two year period in the war and were lively bases for
airmen and visiting locals still have a atmospheric feel about them. On some
days when the summer is moody or when the winter is dark and chilly
you can step out onto one of those disused runways and feel like you are not
alone. You become aware of the history and the sacrifices that were made,
the remains of artwork left by some young men on the walls of the huts
especially at Seething. Seething still has a tower and this is used now as a
museum displaying uniforms, photographs, parts of planes, radio equipment
etc etc. This tower is open almost every Sunday and though most veterans
have stopped coming now local enthusiasts have kept the airfield as it used
to be surrounded however, by acres of field, as it used to be before the thick
layers of concrete was laid all those years ago. Some airfields you can't find
anything other than the odd bunker or nissun and all looking in a forlorn
state. One day in late summer, just as the shadows were thickening on
one of these deserted airfields called Deopham Green, I stepped out from my
car and crossed what was left of its runway and just felt so exposed as no
trees or shrubs had grown since the land was levelled in I943. No one was
around and the open expanse brought a chill wind and you could almost
feel and hear the flying fortresses moving around. Very much like in the
film 'Aces High'. After some minutes I could not help but feel a presence,
and when I turned about I saw a figure about a hundred yards away, not
moving, facial features fixed and eyes looking to the smokey skies. At first
my brain raced to wonder who this farmer was, but then I noticed the
flying gear and typical helmet and boots. At that point, I went cold all over
with a freezing tingle at the back of my neck. I was determined to be sure,
and not panic; I watched and blinked and watched, but the person did not
move nor look at me. Then slowly, the figure disolved.
I went back to the base two years later. I never felt quite the same feelings
as I did before but had an empathy for these surroundings and a desire to
know more about Deopham Green and all that served there. I went back
again six months later and spoke finally with the owner of the land. He
was quick to tell me that he too had seen this apparition along with several
other locals. There were other sightings. Most of the Norfolk airfields
now have plaques and memorials which has seen a huge decline in recent
sightings. Lost souls finally at rest? The pilot I had presumably spotted
had returned from a mission it seems, and had to take part in a crash
landing - some of the crew had bailed out over Germany due to a feathered
engine. The three remaining crew members decided to stay and take their
chances and had landed the plane on the perimeter track but they did not
survive the impact. I will never forget my experience.

keywords: Books: Wartime Norfolk. Americans in East Anglia. Old airfields
of East Anglia. Norfolk Ghosts. Blickling Hall. Haunted places in Norfolk.
Haunted airfields. Flights to Norwich. Accomodation. Norfolk Broads.

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