Google Earth Co-ordinates:</B> 52°51'42.91"N 0°54'50.14"E <B>
Opened: July 1943
Closed: March 1953
Wartime Runways: 01/19 = 4200 x 150 ft 07/25 = 6000 x 150 ft 13/31 = 4200 x 150 ft
Current Runways: 07/25 = 494 x 23 mtrs 10/28 = 770 x 16 mtrs
Current Status: = Agriculture/Flying
Operational units and aircraft
My own association with Little Snoring Airfield is more family-related than about the RAF or flying. My father (here in his RAF uniform) was based in London when he met my mother, but he put in for a posting to Little Snoring to be near her before they married.
After they married and had my brother, they moved to Little Snoring, in a place just behind the airfield, abandoned shortly after I was born.
Some of my earliest memories were playing on the old airfield - watching dragonflies fluttering round an old water reservoir, rollerskating or go-karting on the runways, playing in the delapidated buildings. Across the other side of our road, there were still a number of nissen huts and the old shop to which I was often despatched for various supplies. From the history below, I am guessing these were leftovers of the domestic units for the RAF personnel.
My father later on told tales of his days on the airfield. He serviced the aircraft. Being a groundcrew technician, he didn't normally get to fly. But on one occasion he and some others were trapped (or stowed away?) in the hold of a plane as it flew on a mission and nearly lost their hearing and probably their lives as a result.
He also described how the RAF pilots flew him and others over Germany after the bombing just to see the city alight. He didn't tell us children which city it was, but it was a major victory and heavy bombing, apparently amazing to see! (The last hostile missions of the second world war were launched from Little Snoring airfield on the nights of 3rd/4th May 1944 against Hohn and Flensberg in Germany by RAF Mosquitoes.)
In another place I've described how he would wave at my mother's house when a pilot low-flew over the village of Gt Snoring (presumably on a short test flight after maintenance).
History - War Operations
RAF Little Snoring was opened in July 1943 and although it was originally intended as a satellite for RAF Foulsham, within a month it achieved full station status within No. 3 Group of Bomber Command.
The first Mk II Lancasters of 115 Sqdn. arrived on August 6th and rapidly became operational, however by November Little Snoring passed into 100 Group and the Lancasters disappeared. They were replaced by the Defiants and Beaufighters of 515 Sqdn. and the Mosquitoes of 169 Sqdn. 515 Sqdn. was re-equipped with Mosquitoes and both squadrons continued to be involved in day and night intruder missions and escort duties.
For a short spell, a USAF detachment equipped with Mustangs and Lightnings was based at Little Snoring to work with the RAF squadrons on night fighting operations. During this same time there was a considerable amount of testing work with early AI radar systems.
In 1944 23 Sqdn arrived with Mosquitoes to replace 169 and together with 515 Sqdn continued to fly day and night intruder raids. The AI radar was proving particularly successful and both squadrons achieved a significant number of kills.
The last missions were flown on 3 & 4 May 1945, both squadrons were disbanded soon afterwards and operational flying ceased in September that year.
A certain amount of RAF activity continued up until 1958 but since that time the airfield has been used by the McAully Flying Group A role of of honour dedicated to the airmen who lost their lives while serving at RAF Little Snoring can be found in the village church at the western end of the airfield. The original control tower is still standing and runway layout, peri-tracks and dispersal points are clearly visible.
History - Location & Use
RAF Little Snoring is located north of the A148 and east of the Little to Great Snoring road and was begun by Taylor Woodrow in September 1942. Most if not all of the land where the airfield was built was owned by Lord Hasting. It was necessary to close a road from Thursford to Little Snoring when construction began as this crossed the site.
The bomb store area was to the north of the airfield. The camp, dispersed around Little Snoring village towards the A148 road, consisted of eight domestic, two mess and one communal site for 1,807 males and 361 females.
By the time Little Snoring was available for use in the summer of 1943, No. 2 Group was in the process of moving its units south and the airfields in north Norfolk were available to No. 3 Group. In August No. 115 Squadron with its radial-engined Lancaster IIs moved in from East Wretham which was to become an American fighter base.
In the same month No. 3 Group's Lancaster conversion unit, No. 1678 HC Flight, also removed from East Wretham to Little Snoring for a few weeks before moving on to Foulsham. However No. 3 Group's extended domain was soon reduced with the proposed formation of the Bomber Support Group, No. 100.
Early in December 1943 No. 169 Squadron arrived from Ayr and a week later it was joined by No. 515 from Hunsdon.
No. 169, a recently re-formed unit training on Mosquitos for the Serrate role, flew its first sorties seeking enemy night fighters during the Bomber Command raid to Berlin on January 20/21, 1944. No. 515 Squadron was equipped with Beaufighters on its arrival, but it started to convert to Mosquitos in February, undertaking its first sorties from Little Snoring in early April 1944.
Another Mosquito squadron, No. 141, was moved in from West Raynham in July 1945 preparatory to disbandment two months later. A total of 55 Bomber Command aircraft were lost in operations flown from Little Snoring: 12 Lancasters and 43 Mosquitos.
In the immediate post-war period Little Snoring was used to store aircraft, mainly Mosquitos. It was then on care and maintenance until an anti-aircraft co-operation unit on civilian contract operated from the airfield over the Wash ranges for several years during the 1950s.
Spitfires, the main type employed, gave way to Vampires before the unit was disbanded in 1958 and thereafter the airfield became redundant. The road to Thursford was reopened in the 1960s using part of the eastern perimeter track as the new route.
Local flying interest, sustained by the Cushing family who bought the airfield land in 1966, ensured that Little Snoring was maintained for club and private flying over the next three decades.
The eastern and southern parts of all three runways have been removed but the remainder is retained for flying.
Here are some photos:
Memorial plaques to the No. 100 Group squadrons - recording that they claimed 66 enemy aircraft destroyed and 75 damaged - are to be found in Little Snoring Church.