Time to Remember – RAF North Creake Memorial Project
Tucked away in a quiet corner of North Norfolk are the remains of a secret WWII bomber base. When you pass through the area today you would be forgiven for thinking the large hangars and nissen huts are old agricultural buildings, but these old structures hold a fascinating history which is mostly forgotten.
There are plans afoot to change all that. Nigel Morter and Claire Nugent became hooked on the history of the airfield when they bought the old Control Tower in 2011. While converting The Control Tower into a period style Art Deco Bed and Breakfast they also started to uncover the much overlooked history of the airfield.
They want to celebrate those who served and commemorate those who were lost by building a befitting memorial in a public place on the old airfield site so that people can learn more about what happened there, who were based there, what they did and those who were lost. They created a dedicated website for the memorial rafnorthcreake.co.uk
The aim is to complete this memorial in 2020 – when complete there will be a formal dedication ceremony and celebration. This is currently planned for Sunday 6th June 2021 (plans have been postponed due to Covid-19).
Plans agreed by North Norfolk District Council for the RAF North Creake Memorial
The Time to Remember project has achieved an important milestone now that the plans to build a memorial for former RAF North Creake have been given the green light by NNDC. Nigel Morter and Claire Nugent have been waiting for this moment for over 7 years since they moved to the Control Tower and decided that they wanted to ensure that those who served at RAF North Creake were remembered. The project was on track to unveil the memorial in time for the 75th anniversary of the disbandment of the airfield in August 2020 however due to Covid-19 the memorial is now due to be dedicated on Sunday 6th June 2021.
“We are thrilled that the project is finally moving on the ‘the build’ phase, with every milestone reached we inch closer to having this beautiful memorial to those who served here at RAF North Creake becoming a reality.” Claire Nugent
Now we have planning permission we can launch our Just Giving page – please use this if you would like to donate to the project or we are happy to receive direct donations (that way we won’t pay fees).
Walsingham Estate have designated the land for the memorial site.
Project supported by:
Holkham Estate, Walsingham Estate, Walsingham Parish Council, ABN, The Pickled Inns, Mr & Mrs Campbell, Paul Berry, Rhia Watson and Stephen Squires.
We commissioned Andy Knighton to create a large Stirling sculpture similar to the Lancaster pictured. He was a pleasure to work with and ‘Home Safe’ is complete and ready to be become the striking centrepiece of the memorial site. If you have been to the museum at East Kirkby recently you will have seen his Lancaster which sits outside the entrance to the museum. This pic shows the fuselage starting to take shape.
Approximately £41,000 is needed to create the memorial sculpture and associated structures.
Pledges are already being received from local landowners, businesses and interested individuals.
Walsingham Parish Council is administering the funds on behalf of the project.
Pledges and funds recived thus far are in excess of £25,000.
The first fundraising was ‘Drink to Remember’ a memorial beer (see below for more details) it went into production from February 2018 and will continue until the unveiling of the memorial in 2020. Each pint sold will contribute towards the memorial fund (already over £2K raised!).
Drink to Remember
‘Drink to Remember’ is a hoppy amber bitter by Beeston Brewery with lightly toasted malts to give a full bodied fruity character will be launched the Winter Great British Beer Festival in Norwich on the 20th February 2018 and will be simultaneously available in selected pubs in North Norfolk. From April 2018 bottles will also be available. The beer will be in production for the duration of the ‘Time to Remember’ campaign (ends August 2020).
Beeston / Control Tower Collaboration
Claire and Nigel are passionate about the Control Tower and its history but also are champions of all things Norfolk. They enjoy directing guests to local suppliers for all kinds of delicious Norfolk produce. They are lucky enough to have The Real Ale shop as their local and nearest shop which is where they first found ‘Stirling’ Beer by Beeston Brewery. The image on their bottles of Stirling is from a mural originally from a building almost next door to the Tower but is now preserved at RAF Hendon. That is why Beeston were the obvious choice to collaborate with on this memorial beer.
Drink to Remember – Where to buy the beer
The Real Ale Shop – mail order available http://www.therealaleshop.co.uk/
RAF North Creake History
The Control Tower RAF North Creake Airfield 1945
Photo by Sgt Norman Turnbull – Caravan Controller
RAF North Creake 1944-45
Construction of RAF North Creake commenced in 1942 and was completed in 1943. It was built during the period that is considered by many as the most extensive period of British military engineering in history. 1942 -1943 saw the construction of hundreds of military airfields in order to accommodate the American air force. RAF North Creake (operating as a RAF station and was named after a village 4 miles away from it) had in excess of 3,000 people stationed on it when operational within and beyond the formerly quiet hamlet of Egmere in North Norfolk. Flying heavy bombers in support of the bomber streams of bomber command, RAF North Creake became operational in 1944, flying their first operation in support of the D-Day landings on the night of the 5th June.
Two RAF squadrons were based here; the 199, and the 171, both part of RAF 100 Group flying initially Stirling Bombers and latterly Halifax bombers. These were part of The 100 Group of Bomber Command and their role was to carry out secret radio counter measures.
The airfield was built very quickly by mostly Irish labour; it was a colossal military/civil engineering undertaking – the runways/hard-standings alone cost more than £300,000 with the buildings, our tower included, adding a very similar amount to the sum total.
RAF North Creake Disbandment Day
3rd August 1945
Aerial view of Control Tower and Technical Site
FO Faulkner & LAC Harrison on duty at The Control Tower RAF North Creake
by Sgt Norman Turnbull September 1945
RAF 100 Group – Bomber Support arm of Bomber Command
Heavy Bomber Base for Stirlings and Halifax Aircraft
RAF 199 and 171 Squadrons
36 Hard standings
Domestic sites for 3,300 (2,900 men and 400 women)
Hangarage – 2 T2 style and 1 B1 Hangars (all still in situ)
Primarily carried out Radio Counter Measures – using
Mandrel (electronic jamming)
‘Window’ (aluminium foil strips aka Chaff)
Code Name: WORKER
OS Ref TF899385
-1941 Site opened as a Decoy Airfield for RAF Docking
-1942 Oct construction started to create a ‘Class A’ airfield
-1943 Nov the airfield becomes operational
-1943 Dec RAF 100 Group are allocated to North Creake Airfield
-1944 May 199 Squadron arrive at North Creake from Lakenheath – flying Stirling IIIs.
-1944 Jun – the first mission from North Creake Airfield – carrying out Radio Counter Measures in support of D-Day
-1944 Jun – just a few days later on 16th June the first loss – Aircraft N is missing (and never found). All crew lost.
-1944 Sep 171 Squadron formed at North Creake Airfield. Initially flying Stirling IIIs, these were subsequently replaced by Halifax IIIs
-1945 May during the final sortie two aircraft (both Halifax) collided just south of Kiel and are Bomber Command’s last aircraft lost.
– 1945 Sep Put into care and maintenance and used for breaking Mosquito aircraft
– 1947 Sep North Creake Airfield closed and sold
Our love affair with the Control Tower…
The project began for us in October 2011 when we moved in to our beloved Control Tower.
Over the years the Tower has had many uses – from offices to flats, all of which helped to ensure its survival but have also taken their toll on its appearance.
Our major works are almost complete but we will never finish – the Control Tower is a job for life.
To restore the exterior to its 1943 iconic modernist look
To create a comfortable period home and B&B
To nurture relaxing gardens to compliment the tower
We spent most of the first year clearing the area around the Control Tower – 160 40′ leylandii trees, 500 tons of concrete (a post war yard), more rickety old sheds than you could shake a stick at, and lots of internal fencing. We then started landscaping (with a little help from our friends!).
Removing a 90s pitched roof was the most important part of returning the Control Tower to its correct modernist clean lines.It was breathtaking for us when the Control Tower looked the right shape.
Then on to windows, render… and the inside (plumbing, electrics, flooring, plastering… etc) – basically starting again.
We have tried to use the war time buildings – The Air Raid Shelter; Speech Broadcast Building and the Nissen Hut (original structure in a new position) to enhance the Control Tower and each has been given a new use. Even the Stirling Suite which is not an origional building has been given a 1940s look so it is more in keeping of its setting.
You can watch a film about the restoration of The Control Tower here: Norfolk Uncovered – The Story of The Control Tower, RAF North Creake
The best visual improvement we have made to the Tower internally and externally has been installing the Crittall style modern windows. Made by Met Therm the are just right for the building – fitted with incredible care and attention.