The airfield in Langham was one of the most important American airfields of the the Second World War. This is because of the outstanding war records of all three Groups stationed here.
Work begun on the building of the airfield in 1942. W & C French Ltd. was the main contractor, using both Irish and local labour. The airfield was available for flying by May 1943. There were three runways. The main runway was 2,000 yards long and then two intersecting runways of 1,400 yards each in length. The Base had accommodation for 2,900 personnel and there were two fuel dumps and the usual hangers. All temporary buildings were dispersed in woods and fields south of the airfield.
Generally, during the Second World War, it was the Air Ministry's general principle to name new airfields by the name of the village or parish in which they were built. Station 150 was an exception to this. The station was built to the west of the current A12 road, three miles north of Colchester, and was built entirely in the village of Langham. The station, however, took on the name of Boxted, another near-by village, as there was already an operational airfield known as Langham in Norfolk.
When the USAAF came to Langham in 1943, this
country was already inured to the devastating effects of aerial warfare. We
had experienced the heroic tragedy of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, and
the devastation of many of our cities. Rationing had been in operation for
nearly four years and everywhere there was stringent control of goods and
services. There was also a "blackout" and all signposts and name-boards on
stations, and in towns and villages had been removed or obliterated.
Into Langham came a force of some
3,000 "foreigners"! They had an immediate impact on the village and the
towns and villages in the vicinity and their reception was, for the most
part, welcoming. The Americans themselves were friendly and generous,
particularly with their gifts of "candy" to the children which were received
with delight as the allocation of sweets and chocolate in this country was
strictly rationed. The pubs certainly did a roaring trade!
There was, of course, entertainment at the Base for the men stationed there and Glen Miller and his Band visited.
The first meeting of Colonel Hubert (The Hub) Zemke and Captain Glenn Miller (Band Leader) at Boxted Aerodrome in early 1943.