Rougham, Suffolk

Rougham, Suffolk

Rougham is a civil parish in the St Edmundsbury district of Suffolk and also covers Rougham Airfield.

Located directly south-east of Bury St Edmunds, in 2005 its population was 1,140.

One Henry of Rushbrook was Abbot of Bury St Edmunds from 1235 to 1248.

The site of a former stately home, Rushbrooke Hall, is situated to the south of the neighbouring village of Rushbrook.

Rougham Airfield is now in private ownership and much reduced in size after being built during 1941 and 1942 with three intersecting concrete runways. The main runway of 2,000 yards was aligned approximately east to west.

As the airfield was designed for a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) bomb group, 50 concrete hardstands were constructed off the encircling perimeter track.

Two T2-type hangars were erected, one on each side of the airfield. The technical site was on the southern side of the A14 and most of the living sites dispersed in woodland south of the main road around the village of Rougham. Accommodation was provided for some 3,000 personnel in Nissen and other temporary type building.

The airfield was opened in September 1942 and was used by the USAAF Eighth Air Force. Bury St Edmunds was given USAAF designation Station 468 (BU).

USAAF Station Units assigned to RAF Bury St Edmunds were: 453d Sub-Depot (VIII Air Force Service Command); Signal Depot S_800; 18th Weather Squadron; 6th Station Complement Squadron; headquarters, 4th Combat Bombardment Wing, September 13, 1943, through to June 18, 1945l; 36th Signal Construction Battalion; 850th Signal Service Battalion; 1138th Quartermaster Company; 16th Special Services Company; 1734th Ordnance Supply & Maintenance Company; 839th Signal Service Company (Air Operations); 979th Military Police Company; 982d Signal Service Company; Company B, 850th Signal Service Battalion; 2025th Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon; 217th Finance Section; 101st Signal Corps Inspection & Maintenance Team; 19th Signal Center Team; Advance Detachment (36th Signal Construction Battalion); Detachment A (850th Signal Service Battalion, Company B); Detachment B (839th Signal Service Company); and the Weather Detachment 468.

47th Bombardment Group (Light)
The first USAAF group to use the airfield was the 47th Bombardment Group (Light) arriving from Greensboro AAF, North Carolina, in mid-September 1942. The 47th was equipped with the Douglas A-20 "Havoc" bomber but the group quickly moved to RAF Horham as Bury St Edmunds was still under construction. On November 2, the 47th was ordered to North Africa, departing for Medina Air Field 15 miles south of Casablanca in Morocco.

322d Bombardment Group (Medium)
Ongoing construction at Bury St Edmunds forced two of the group's squadrons to locate at RAF Rattlesden, and the group's aircraft did not arrive until late in March 1943. Once operational, the 322d flew two low-level bombing operations from Bury St Edmunds. The first, on May 14 when it dispatched 12 planes for a minimum-level attack on an electrical generating plant near Ijtnuiden. This was the first operational combat mission flown by B-26s.
The second was a disastrous mission to the Netherlands on Monday, May 17, when the group sent 11 aircraft on a similar operation from which none of the aircraft penetrating the enemy coast returned. Sixty crewmen were lost to flak and interceptors. Group morale was not improved when, on May 29, a B-26 crashed onto the airfield killing the crew and damaging a hangar.

After these missions, the group was re-equipped and trained for medium-altitude operations for several weeks before returning to combat operations. On June 13, the 322nd moved to RAF Andrews Field in Essex.

94th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
The 94th Bombardment Group (Heavy] arrived from RAF Earls Colne on June 15, 1943. the 94th was assigned to the 4th Combat Bombardment Wing, and the group tail code was a "Square-A". Its operational squadrons were 331st Bombardment Squadron; 332d Bombardment Squadron; 333d Bombardment Squadron; and the 410th Bombardment Squadron (GL)

The group flew the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress as part of the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign and served chiefly as a strategic bombardment organization throughout the war. The 94th flew its first mission on June 13, 1943, bombing an airfield at Saint-Omer. After that, the group attacked such strategic objectives as the port of St Nazaire, shipyards at Kiel, an aircraft component parts factory at Kassel, a synthetic rubber plant at Hanover, a chemical factory at Ludwigshafen, marshalling yards at Frankfurt, oil facilities at Merseburg, and ball-bearing works at Eberhausen.

The group withstood repeated assaults by enemy interceptors to bomb an aircraft factory at Regensburg on August 17, 1943, being awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for the mission. Braving adverse weather, heavy flak, and savage fighter attacks, the group completed a strike against an aircraft parts factory in Brunswick on January 11, 1944, and received a 2d DUC for this operation.

The 94th took part in the campaign of heavy bombers against the enemy aircraft industry during Big Week, February 20 to 25, 1944. Sometimes operated in support of ground forces and flew interdictory missions. Prior to D-Day in June 1944, helped to neutralize V-weapon sites, airfields, and other military installations along the coast of France. On June 6 the group bombed enemy positions in the battle area to support the invasion of Normandy. During this time it struck troops and gun batteries to aid the advance of the Allies at Saint-Lô in July and at Brest in August.

It also covered the airborne attack on the Netherlands in September and hit marshalling yards, airfields and strong points near the combat area during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 to January 1945. It also bombed transportation, communications, and oil targets in the final push over the Rhine and across Germany.

After V-E Day, the 94th BG dropped leaflets to displaced persons and German civilians. Returned to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey in December 1945 and was inactivated on December 21.

RAF Maintenance Command
After the war, the field was returned to the Royal Air Force in December 1945. On September 11, 1946, the facility was turned over to the Air Ministry. It was left unused for several months before being closed in 1948.

Current use
With the end of military control, Bury St Edmunds airfield's concreted areas were broken up with most of the site being returned to agriculture.
The old technical site has been developed into the Rougham Industrial Estate. The T2 hangars are still in use, for storage. The control tower, used for many years as a private dwelling, has now been restored and is used as a museum.

The airfield, once again known as Rougham, now has two grass runways available for civil use. Gliding and model aircraft flying are frequent and several open-air events are organised each year.

Skyward Flight Training now operate from Rougham Airfield.

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