Earls Colne Airfield (ICAO: EGSR) in Essex, England, is a former Royal Air Force station. The airfield is located 3 nautical miles southeast of Halstead, about 5 nautical miles east-northeast of Braintree, and about 40 nautical miles north-northeast of London.
It was primarily used as a combat bomber airfield during WWII. After it opened in 1942, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces. After many years of reserve status following WWII, it was closed in 1955.
Today, much of the airfield is used as a golf course. The old airfield also houses a flying club.
History of Earls Colne Airfield
The Royal Air Force first used Earls Colne in August 1942, and for the first year, it was operated by the Royal Air Force's No. 3 Group Bomber Command.
Used by the United States Air Forces
The airfield was handed over to the US Army Air Forces in May 1943. USAAF groups used the airfield from the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces. The USAAF referred to it as USAAF Station AAF-358 for security reasons during the war, and that name rather than its location referred to it. "EC" was the USAAF Station Code.
Earls Colne served as the headquarters for the 3d Bomb Division's 3d Combat Bombardment Wing from June 12, 1943, to October 16, 1943.
94th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
The 94th Operations Group is the United States Air Force Reserve's flying component of the 94th Airlift Wing. The unit is based at Georgia's Dobbins Air Reserve Base.
During World War II, the 94th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was an Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress unit in England, stationed at RAF Bury St. Edmunds. The Group flew 324 combat missions and received two Distinguished Unit Citations for operations over Regensburg and Brunswick. On April 21, 1945, it flew its final mission.
331st Bombardment Squadron
The 731st Airlift Squadron, part of the 302d Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, is a flying unit of the United States Air Force assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command. It provides a global airlift with Lockheed C-130H Hercules aircraft. The squadron also has the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System as a specialized mission.
332d Bombardment Squadron
The 732nd Airlift Squadron, also known as the 732d Airlift Squadron, is a United States Air Force unit. The 332nd Bombardment Squadron was formed in 1942 and was involved in strategic bombardment operations in Occupied Europe and Germany during WWII. The 332nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was formed in 1952, and the 732nd Troop Carrier Squadron was formed in 1957. The 732nd Military Airlift Squadron was redesignated in 1957 before being renamed the 732nd Airlift Squadron in 1994.
333d Bombardment Squadron
The 731st Airlift Squadron, part of the 302d Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, is a flying unit of the United States Air Force assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command. It provides a global airlift with Lockheed C-130H Hercules aircraft. The squadron also has the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System as a specialized mission. The squadron was reactivated as a reserve unit in 1947. It was activated for the Korean War in 1951 but was quickly deactivated, with its personnel being used as fillers for other units. On January 1, 1973, In June 1952, it was reactivated in reserve. It was renamed the 733rd Troop Carrier Squadron in 1957. It was reactivated in 1962 and served as a reserve airlift unit until 1973, when it was inactivated at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
410th Bombardment Squadron
The 410th Bombardment Squadron of the United States Air Force is currently inactive. The 94th Bombardment Group was the unit's last assignment. On March 20, 1951, it was decommissioned at Marietta Air Force Base in Georgia.
323d Bombardment Group (Medium)
The US Air Force's 323d Expeditionary Operations Group is a provisional unit assigned to the US Air Forces in Europe.
The 323d Bombardment Group, which arrived from RAF Horham on June 14, 1943, replaced the 94th at Earls Colne. The Group flew Martin B-26B/C Marauders with a horizontal white tail band and was assigned to the 3d Bomb Wing. The 323d's operational squadrons were:
- 453d Bombardment Squadron (VT)
- 454th Bombardment Squadron (RJ)
- 455th Bombardment Squadron (YU)
- 456th Bombardment Squadron (WT)
The 323rd inaugurated medium-altitude bombing missions on July 16, 1943. In common with other Marauder units of the 3d Bomb Wing, the 323d was transferred to Ninth Air Force on October 16, 1943. Tactical missions were flown against V-weapon sites along the coast of France. They attacked airfields at Leeuwarden and Venlo in conjunction with the Allied campaign against the German Air Force and aircraft industry during Big Week 20–25 February 1944. On July 21, the Group was moved south to RAF Beaulieu in Hampshire, designed to extend their range over western France.
Back to Royal Air Force use
The airfield was returned to RAF control in September 1944, with the Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle's and Handley Page Halifaxes being flown by No. 38 Group RAF bomber station. The 38th Group was used to tow gliders (Squadrons Nos. 296 and 297).
In March 1945, both squadrons took part in Operation Varsity, the airborne portion of the Rhine Crossing.
The Essex & Hertfordshire Air Ambulance Trust is a non-profit air ambulance service that provides free, life-saving Helicopter Emergency Medical Services to the critically ill and injured in Essex, Hertfordshire, and the surrounding areas. Earls Colne Airfield and North Weald Airfield are home to the helicopters and rapid response vehicles. EHAAT works alongside the NHS and East of England Ambulance Service, EHAAT are a life-saving charity. See how you can support them and view their work.
Anglian Flight Centres Ltd is the flying school that is based at Earls Colne Airfield. For over 30 years, AFC has been teaching students to fly professionally and safely. Whether you are looking to learn to fly, go for trial flights or experience flying in a warbird, Anglian Flight Centres is the place to go. Learn more about what the flying school has to offer today. Personally, I would highly recommend them as a flying school as I am learning to fly with them.
Leave me a comment
Thank you for reading my post, if you want to leave a comment, you can do so below.