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Rivenhall

Major

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The Western Arms pub at Silver End, some distance away from the airfield, contains numerous photographs and other memorabilia associated with Rivenhall.

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Also known as: Allshots Industrial Estate / Polish Camp Site Industrial Estate / RAF Rivenhall / USAAF Station 168
County: Essex
Current Status: Farmland / Gravel extraction / Industry
Date: 1943 - 17 September 1946
Current Use: Disused
Used By: RAF / USAAF
Landing Surface Types: Paved

Rivenhall in Essex, opened in October 1943 and was initially used by the US 9th Air Force. The 397th Bomb Group played a major part before and after D-Day, attacking tactical targets such as bridges. The airfield was later taken over by the RAF and Nos 295 and 570 Squadrons supported Resistance forces by delivering supplies such as weaponry and other equipment.  

In March 1945 Rivenhall aircraft towed 60 paratroop assault gliders over the River Rhine as part of Operation Varsity. It was the largest single airborne operation in history to be carried out in a day and in one location and was designed to allow the Allies to secure a foothold in western Germany.

Rivenhall Airfield closed in September 1946 and the site later become a post-war campsite for displaced Polish people. Notable buildings, such as the gymnasium, remain as part of an industrial estate. The site was used for many years after this by the Marconi company for radar testing but is now under threat from further development. As of 2016, parts of the perimeter track, as two T2 hangars were demolished recently.


The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/09/2011):

  • Coggeshall Library
  • GKL Southern Ltd
  • Kelvedon Library
  • Rivenhall Parish Council
  • RMC Blackwater Aggregates (Eastern Counties)
  • Silver End Library
  • The Western Arms
  • Witham Library

Main unit(s) present:

  • No 295 Sqn
  • 363rd FG
  • 397th BG
  • No 570 Sqn
  • No 1677 (TT) Flight

Photograph of the ABCT memorial marker at Rivenhall, unveiled on 21 February 2009:

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geograph-229388-by-Glyn-Baker.jpg

A radar tower at Rivenhall, erected by Marconi after the airfield closed. Photograph taken on 26 August 2006. © Glyn Baker and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Rivenhall-basecp-1944.jpg

Rivenhall airfield headquarters, 1944. Photograph in public domain

Rivenhall-04-1944.jpg

Aerial photograph of Rivenhall in April 1944. Photograph in public domain

geograph-229376-by-Glyn-Baker.jpg

The main runway at Rivenhall, 26 August 2006. © Glyn Baker and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

397th_Bombardment_Group_-_B-26_Marauders.jpg

A formation of USAAF Martin B-26 Marauders from the 397th Bombardment Group, based at Rivenhall during the Second World War. Photograph in public domain

Rivenhall-363dfg-p51b.jpg

An USAAF North American P-51 Mustang from the 382nd Fighter Squadron based at Rivenhall. Photograph in public domain

100_0400.jpg

Looking across the former airfield at Rivenhall, February 2009.

100_0402.jpg

The perimeter track at the south-east of the site, February 2009.

The Duke of Edinburgh visiting the satellite tracking system at Rivenhall, 1966. Courtesy of British Pathé

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