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Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
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 by Paul Clouting

Home to the 397th BG, the “Bridge Buster’s” from April to August 1944

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex
General view of the airfield as it stood in 2002, looking almost due west.  Silver End village is top left, Bradwell village top right.  All 2,000 feet of the main runway still intact, as are both the T-2 aircraft hangers.  Sick quarters (Allshot’s farm) bottom centre.  The former communal site is bottom left, including the station cinema and chapel.  The northern side of the airfield has already suffered the ravages of gravel extraction

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex
A view of the south eastern side of the airfield and hanger 1.  The admin site and operations block are behind the hanger in the wooded area.  The control tower was demolished after it became unstable following an explosion, but would have occupied the area now outlined by a small copse of trees almost dead centre of this shot.  Note the extended roofline of hanger 1 which was converted by the "Marconi" company post war.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex
View of the Western side of the airfield centered round Hanger 2. The taxi-way and a good number of loop type aircraft standings are still evident in this shot.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex
Communal site. Huts on this site included the post office, tailors, barber, and shoemaker’s shops, local produce store, rations stores, and the gymnasium.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex
The base hospital and sick quarters were built in and around “Allshots Farm” on the South Eastern side of the airfield. Like a lot of the buildings that survive on the airfield, they have now been put to alternative use. The two dark coloured oval huts in the centre of the photo were part of the base sick quarters, each hut containing a 22 bed hospital ward.

The white hut on the far left of the picture, now used as a repair centre for motor vehicles was formally the base mortuary.


Rivenhall Airfield, Essex
This building at the rear of the communal site was the generator house. It would have contained two electrical power generators for the base.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex
Picket Post guarding the entrance to the site of base operations.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex
Double span Nissen huts sited to the rear of the operations block provided use as station offices

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex
Interior shot of one of the office buildings on the operations site. During wartime this building would have been laid out with desks, typewriters, telephones, and bustling with administrative personnel. Post war, this building and many others like it were used to provide temporary accommodation to many Polish servicemen, who on release from POW camps did not wish to return to their homeland.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex
Operations buildings. From left to right, crew briefing room, office annexe, station office building. To the rear is the roofline of the base operations block

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex
Base operations block, the nerve centre of the airfield. A windowless reinforced concrete blast proof building with its own self contained power generators and clean air ventilation system, protecting its occupants from indirect bomb blasts and the dreaded (and thankfully never implemented) poison gas attack.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
Looking down Rivenhall’s main runway 10-28. Although suffering the effects of over 50 years of weathering, the runway is still intact in 1996. Beyond the trees and to the right of the runway would have been the bomb store. This area has already been cleared for gravel extraction.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
Buildings on the communal site photographed in 1996. To the left is the generator house, and to the right the gymnasium. Later when the RAF occupied the airfield this building was converted into the station cinema.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
More communal site buildings as photographed in 2001. This building is believed to have housed the barbers shop, shoemaker, and tailors shops.
Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
The generator house in 2001, now in use as a vehicle repair shop.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
Side view of the gymnasium / cinema in 2001.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
Another view taken of the same building. The side steps and door were a later addition and would have led up to the projection room.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
The same view photographed in 2001. Note how the buildings have been rejuvenated by the private enterprises now putting them to good use.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
Eastern taxi-way leading up to Rivenhall’s main runway 10-28. To the right would have been more loop type aircraft hardstands to the back of Allshot’s Farm and the base sick quarters.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
These two buildings stand close to the site of the control tower. To the left, a store for the hydrogen & Nitrogen bottles used for weather balloons. To the right, a store for the floodlight trailer and its tractor tug.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
Interior shot of Hanger two. Having long since finished with aircraft servicing and repair, the building is now content to be used as a temporary grain store.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
Hanger two photographed from the taxi-way. The post war altered roofline can clearly be seen from this shot.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
Hanger two viewed from the Southwest end.

Rivenhall Airfield, Essex (Station 168)
Iron bars protecting the windows clearly indicate the importance of this building. It was in fact the Norden bombsite store.

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