Built for the USAAF and completed in 1943 Beccles (Ellough) airfield had the three concrete runway layout typical of many bomber airfields in East Anglia. Aerial view. It was allocated the airfield number 132. It is possible that Beccles was intended to be used by the 3rd Air Division, 95th Combat Wing. The 95th had two Bomber Groups, the 489th at Halesworth and the 491st at Metfield. Other Combat Wings had three Bomber Groups.
In the event USAAF had no use for the airfield so it passed briefly to RAF Bomber Command before passing to Coastal Command in August 1944. Until closure in 1945 the airfield was used by various RAF and FAA squadrons operating such diverse types as Warwick, Barracuda, Walrus, Swordfish, Sea Otter and Albacore on air-sea rescue and anti-shipping duties. At one time Beccles was called HMS Hornbill II.
One of Beccles few claims to fame is that in 1944 it was used by Mosquitos of 618 Squadron to practice dropping spinning bombs called 'Highball' which were a derivative of the bombs used by 617 Squadron to breach the dams. The use of 'Highball' is shown in the 1970 fictious film 'Mosquito Squadron' (marvellous wooden aircraft, terrible wooden actors).
After the war Beccles remained dormant until 1965 when it became a heliport serving North Sea oil rigs until that operation transferred to Norwich airport.
In 1997 Rainer Forster transferred his aircraft from Swanton Morley and began operating initially from a portacabin and a caravan. It has taken much hard work to get from those humble beginnings to the professional operation that now exists.
Although Beccles does not have an illustrious history like many of the areas WWII airfields at least it has not suffered the fate of many like Halesworth which has been taken over by turkey sheds. Today Beccles airfield is home to, in addition to RainAir, model aircraft flying, and karting.
1.Bowyer, MJF. (2000) Action Stations Revisited, Crecy Buy this book
2. Smith, G. (1995) Suffolk Airfields in the Second World, Countryside Books Buy this book