2 Squadron History

RAF Marham 1947 - 1950

RAF Marham 1947 - 1950 - Project Ruby
The tricycle undercarriages of the B-29’s prevented the Grand Slam bombs from being pushed under the fuselage for loading into the bomb bay, so a hole was dug into the ground beyond the hangars at Marham, the bomb put into the hole and the aircraft positioned over the top and the bomb loaded. The bomb bay doors would not close with such a large bomb so they were removed. The Lancasters taking part in the trials had been specially modified to carry the ten-tonners, this entailed removal of the nose and dorsal turrets with the bomb bay cut away and strengthened so the bomb could be carried externally.

The American personnel taking part in Project Ruby joined the RAF personnel for parades every morning. Mr Johnston remembers: “they all seemed to be dressed differently, one even wore cowboy boots and probably caused our Warrant Officers to have bouts of high blood pressure! But they were a good crowd when you got to know them”. At the end of their six month stay, a farewell party was planned by the Americans at a dance hall in Norwich. For this, one of the B-17’s went to France and returned loaded to the gills with cognac. Nine RAF personnel, of various trades including Mr Johnston were invited. On the night, everyone was given a bottle of cognac at the door. By 0300 hrs there were few sober enough to load the “dead” onto the truck back to camp.

On the 3rd May 1947 the CBE at Marham held an Air Force Day to help the Mansion House Fund for Flood Relief in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Ground displays for the huge crowd included: Spiteful, Spitfire, Sea Otter, Brigand, Barracuda and Meteor F4 aircraft. Air displays included the Lincoln RF484 “Excalibur”, which had recently returned from a flight to Australia and New Zealand.

On the 9th June 1947 nine Superfortress bombers of the 340th Bomb Squadron, 97th Bombardment Group, 15th USAAF landed at Marham for a weeks goodwill visit to Britain. On arrival officers and airmen were greeted by Lord Tedder Air Marshal RAF, Sir Hugh Saunders AOC Bomber Command, General Clayton Bissell US Military Attache in London. The following day members of the press were given a flight in a B-29, flying low over Ipswich, London, Sussex Downs, Brighton, Southampton, New Forest, Dartmoor, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge before flying home to Marham.

The Central Bomber Establishment moved to Finningley in April 1949, where it later became the nucleus of the Bomber Command Bombing School. From March 1948 until March 1950 a succession of American Bombardment Groups were based at Marham, with B-29 and B-50’s, including: 2nd, 22nd, 43rd, 307th and 509th Bomb Groups. The last unit to be stationed here during this period was the Mobile B-29 Training Unit, which helped the RAF convert to the Washington B1 (B-29).

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