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Sadly we have lost two of the American veterans. Clifford Davis and Airus Bergstrom were based here at Martlesham during WW2

An obituary for both of them is available on the Obituaries page

We organised a walk around the old airfield on Sunday 23rd June to discover various places of interest that still survive so long after WW2. The group picture above was taken before the walk and our chairman, Martyn Cook is on the right. He explained history as they walked around.

Martyn Cook introduces everyone to the Control Tower and a brief history of RAF Martlesham Heath before the walk began

On Friday July 5th we had our monthly meeting in the Community Hall. Bob Collis is an aviation historian and author who lives at Lowestoft and the subject of his talk was, "Zeppelins Over Lowestoft - Great War Raids on the East Coast Town. Bob was accompanied by two friends who are also aviation enthusiasts.

The Zeppelin was an enormous dirigible 600ft long which was filled with hydrogen gas bags to give them lift and usually had a crew of 22 men. Lowestoft was one of many towns which received visits from the then invincible Zeppelin. They carried a bomb load of 50kg bombs.

Bob showed many photographs taken at the time of the damage caused. We had no answer to the Zeppelin until 1916 because the standard BE2 fighter which was deployed on home defence was incapable of climbing to the height at which the Zeppelin flew. By 1916 we had developed aircraft which were capable of taking on the German "terror weapon", as it was called in those days. We also developed incendiary bullets which set fire to the gas. The crew invariably perished in the conflagration.

Gt Yarmouth was the first town to receive a visit from a Zeppelin. This was January 1915 and it was not until June 1917 that the Germans stopped using Zeppelins. By then we had the answer to them.

In Britain 528 people had been killed, mostly civilians. More than 1000 were wounded. Of 115 Zeppelins 53 were lost and 23 damaged beyond repair.

A vote of thanks was given by our chairman, Martyn Cook.


BATTLE HEADQUARTERS NEXT TO THE NEW MILL HEATH DEVELOPMENT.

A relic of WW2 at Martlesham Heath has recently been in the news and on television. A cat found its way into the bunker through a narrow opening of the otherwise sealed building and had to be rescued!

The Battle Headquarters was an underground bunker to be used for the co-ordination of the defence of the airfield in the event of a ground attack. The bunker was built in 1941. The following description has been supplied by our Treasurer, Pat Lisseman.

“The HQ was located a short distance from the airfield with a good overall 360 degree view.  It comprises of a 28ft long by 9ft wide underground box with an extra room to one side which measured 6ft x 8ft.  The main walls are 13.5 inches thick and are made of brick with steel reinforcing and a concrete coating.  The roof is  an 18 inch thick concrete slab. Rooms included: The messenger and runner’s room; communication room with telephone equipment connected to a public exchange; latrine containing chemical toilets; the Station Commander’s room and the observation room with its thick concrete cupola on top. The walls of the cupola were thicker than the main bunker at 18 inches.  Next to the observation room was the emergency exit with an iron ladder leading up to the surface, this would have had a steel cover which was able to be locked in the closed position.

Several years ago the County Council funded research into all of the "RAF Martlesham" artefacts” - this was carried out by a group called "Eighth in the East".  They produced a details list with grid references and photos.  As a member of the Martlesham Parish Council I was involved with preparing our "Neighbourhood Plan".

Whilst not "listed buildings" there are a number of "heritage assets" around Martlesham. We were able to incorporate the above report in a list of heritage assets that should be preserved wherever practical.  The Martlesham Neighbourhood Plan can be viewed through the District Council and Parish Council web sites,  The assets are all listed as an appendix.

As a Society we do not own any of the assets - we have a museum in the Control Tower which is owned by Martlesham Heath Housing.

We have an on going aspiration to have a guided trail around Martlesham with information boards on buildings/structures of interest,  Last year we received a grant from the District Council and two boards have been erected - one by the Revetments adjacent to the Control Tower and one by the Fuel Terminal in Portal Woods. It is intended to apply for a grant from the 2019/20 budget to erect a board covering the Control Tower and Signal Square.”