poppy field

Spain District North

Members Stories

An area for articles and information our members have submitted and would like to share with you.


Following Article submitted by Mike Huggins - Chairman Javea Branch

Alconbury Weald - former RAF & USAFE Base

RAF Alconbury began as a satellite base for nearby RAF Wyton during the early days of World War II. The first American unit at Alconbury was the 93d Bombardment Group and its B-24 Liberators. The 93d BG flew Eighth Air Force's first operational B-24 mission to the continent, attacking the Lille Steelworks in Belgium.
Land for an airfield at Alconbury was first acquired in 1938 as a satellite landing ground for RAF Upwood, and, when war broke out, it was used by Blenheims from RAF Wyton. In the beginning facilities were rudimentary comprising a briefing room and bomb stores; in 1941 three runways were laid, and it was subsequently used by Stirlings and Wellingtons to mount raids against Germany. 
In August 1942 Alconbury became an American base for Liberators flying bombing missions. In December 1942 the Liberators were replaced by B-17s and Alconbury became known as Station 102. As part of the US 8th Air Force it fulfilled a variety of roles until being handed back to the RAF in November 1945.
On 1 June 1953 the airfield was reactivated as one of the bases for the US 3rdAir Force, and by 1954 major reconstruction work was underway to lay a new extended runway and construct other infrastructure, including hangars and bomb stores. The first aircraft arrived in September 1955; B-45s of the 85thBomb Squadron, this squadron remaining until August 1959 by which time it had been re-equipped with B-66Bs. Following this departure Alconbury assumed what was to be its principal Cold War role as the home to various reconnaissance squadrons. The first to arrive were the 1stand 10th squadrons of the 10th tactical Reconnaissance Wing, flying at first RB-66s until they were replaced by RF-4C Phantom IIs in 1965. 
In 1976, the airfield acquired an additional role as the home of a tactical fighter training squadron flying Northrop F-5E Tigers. Soon after the airfield was substantially remodelled with the construction of twenty-eight hardened aircraft shelters. ‘Hush Houses’ were also built in the early 1980s to minimise engine noise during static test runs.

In 1983, TR-1s (reconnaissance ‘spy’ planes) were permanently based at Alconbury. This led to a large remodelling of the northern section of the airfield to accommodate these aircraft and their specialised mission. Work included the construction of five prefabricated ‘Ready Sheds’, thirteen extra-wide Hardened Aircraft Shelters, a Squadron Headquarters, a massive Avionics and Photography Interpretation Centre, and new concrete aprons and taxi-ways. In the late 1980s the Phantoms were replaced by thirty-eight A-10A Warthogs, ground attack aircraft. Their deployment, however, had little effect on the physical fabric of the base, although the squadron did produce some distinctive wall art. Flying ceased on 31 March 1995 and the base was subsequently released for disposal.

The Airfield site is now administered by Alconbury Developments Limited, most of the domestic site is retained by the USAFE and is used for domestic facilities and accommodation for it and its sister base of RAF Molesworth.


What Happened to RAF/USAFE Alconbury

The airfield is in the civil parish of The Stukeleys, close to the villages of Great Stukeley, Little Stukeley, and Alconbury. Flying operations are no longer based at the site, with most of the land, including the runway, having been sold in 2009 to become the new settlement of Alconbury Weald. The site has flourished with most of the old buildings removed and replaced with accommodation, business development and business park, the only little gem left is the watch tower seen above in the write up and here below since is re-purpose as a café for the local area of Alconbury Weald, the tower and all of the accommodation has been kept in spirit and is run as a top local restaurant called Bohemia, still retaining the existing watch tower, toilet block, admin rooms and shift accommodation.
 ‘As Churchill once said”, we shape our buildings thereafter they shape us. This is inscribed on the wall in the old building. The old watch tower certainly holds to that, whilst you sit sipping a glass of wine or simply eat your breakfast you can see all around you the signs and the spirits of the past. This building is almost like a museum in tribute to the men and women who fought from it during the Second World War and the Cold War. As a thanks the management of the new Bohemia restraint allowed us to have pictures of our Lest we Forget RBL Van outside of it it was a privilege being here and seeing how the young men and women who run the café chat to people about the history of the former watch tower and base. Sometimes history is lost on the younger generation not at Alconbury Weald Bohemia Cafe

Published 12th April 2023