416th Bombardment Group (L)
A Brief History of RAF Wethersfield
By Ross Stewart
If you Google Earth, Essex in England you will notice the large A frame airfield north of the town of Braintree, lying between the village’s of Finchinghfield and
Wethersfield. It has been said that it was one of the longest runways in Europe and rumour has it that it was an emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle if it missed the
landing in the USA. The history of this piece of land and the various tenants, mostly from America is varied and fascinating.
My interest began in 2008, having lived and worked at the base since 2000, it was not until walking the family pet, Rusty the Golden Retriever at the east end of the main
runway that I noticed an area of fence line that for no apparent reason jutted out into the neighbouring field. With my Project Manager head on I was intrigued as to why this
peculiar fenced off shape had been created with about 55 fence panels, when maybe 10 in a straight line would have been much more efficient. That thought on that walk has taken
me on a long journey of discovery into what must be one of the most interesting Airfields in East Anglia or even the UK. The questions raised by the fence panels led to a Google
Earth search which clearly showed a building had existed in that spot, and from researching that building my interest in the history of the airfield evolved, and I soon
became the focal point of hosting visitors mostly American returning to once more connect with this few thousand acres of Essex which had made enough of an impact in
their lives to draw them back long after the time they lived and worked here. In particular you will read about the connection with one visitor Wayne Sayles and the story
of 1st Lt William Edward Cramsie.
Having now been retired from the MOD Police for three years, I still maintain a connection through, Project 9699, History Talks to local groups, hosting occasional
American visitors and the very real prospect of a Base Museum, and the ambition to publish a book with a not so brief history of the base.