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RAF BRADWELL BAY

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The site of a former military airfield, now partly occupied by Bradwell Nuclear Power Station. The airfield was initially built in 1936, reopened in 1941 and closed in 1946. The airfield had begun in 1936 as a landing ground built to support a pre war ground to air firing range (Dengie Flats). It was subsequently developed and upgraded from 1940-1941 as a fighter base with concrete and tarmac runways, hard standings and fighter pens. There was a Bellman aircraft hangar for maintenance use and 12 blister hangars. Initially in 1942 it was used by 418 (Canadian) Squadron for attacks on airfields and transport routes in occupied Europe, as well as propaganda leaflet drops. Later in 1942 29 and 264 Squadrons flew from Bradwell as escorts for allied bombers. The role of the base changed in June 1943 after which a number of units used the airfield for attacks on shipping off the Dutch coast. In September 1943 aircraft from the base were involved in "Operation Starkey", a diversionary "invasion feint" designed to mislead axis forces. In 1944 278 Squadron with an air sea rescue role also flew from Bradwell. Bradwell also provided air cover over the English Channel for the Allied D-Day invasion. When Germany began the "V-1" rocket attacks Bradwell was used by fighters preventing the rockets from reaching London. Later in 1945 Bradwell was home to a number of ground based support units, and post war returned to its original role supporting the firing range. There were plans to reopen the the base in the 1950s with the onset of the Cold War, but these were not realised partly because of the derelict state of the base. Some of the buildings from the redeveloped phase of the wartime base were known to have survived until 1999, these have been recorded as seperate monuments.

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