398th Bomb Group

A “Strange Presence” at the Old Airfield
Vic and the Ghosts of Station 131

Vic Jenkins
Nuthampstead Airfield Research Society
Nuthampstead, England

When the 398th Bomb Group finally vacated Station 131 in late June of 1945, the base was handed over to the Royal Air Force under the care of a maintenance unit consisting of about thirty RAF personnel.

The airfield was used as an area-wide collection site for bombs and ammunition awaiting transportation and ultimate dumping into the North Sea. The runways, perimeter roads and bomb storage areas were stacked with every type of bomb and bullet imaginable. Every building on the station was intact. The base hospital was used as living and sleeping quarters. It was from here that the personnel were dispatched by truck and bicycle to the various parts of the station to carry out their daily duties.

Nuthampstead was a pleasant place to be stationed during the summer months. But in the winter it was a different story. Security and fire patrols were carried out every night, and with the field more or less abandoned the nightly patrols could be quite eerie and lonely.  I was one of those RAF men on these patrols, and it wasn’t long before the talk amongst us got around to the subject of “ghosts”.

“Have you seen the ghost that appears in the morgue dressed in full flying gear?” one fellow asked. Of course, we all laughed. But he insisted he had seen this thing on numerous occasions. And we all laughed again.

Not long afterwards, whilst on patrol, I was checking out “B” hanger, which had been the work place of the 478th Sub Depot. It was very dark inside, although I did have a flashlight. Suddenly, I heard the sound of music. It was very faint, but I could make it out to be coming from a big band. I was frozen to the spot. I must have listened to the music for some time, and just as quickly as it had started, it stopped and it was deathly quiet again. For a moment I assumed it must have been the wind blowing through the girders of the building. But there was no wind. And it was a still, quiet, moonlit night outside.

Many years later I learned that the Glenn Miller band had played in that very same hanger. And it was on a still, quite, moonlit evening. Could it have been “Moonlight Serenade” that I heard being played that night?  As for the morgue experience, at which we all got a good laugh at the time, others finally admitted they felt a strange presence when they entered. Personally, I never entered that morgue, especially after my own experience in “B” hanger.

Some of the other RAF lads also told of hearing talking and laughing coming from the deserted squadron huts that straddled the road that led to the back gate and hospital. Perhaps it was a couple of pints of beer consumed at the Woodman Inn that made them hear those strange voices. I am not so sure. It has been stated that the old Yank airfields of the 8th and 9th Air Forces were inhabited by ghosts. And after my experiences in “B” hanger and the experiences of my friends at the morgue, I’m certain they were at Station 131, too.

The airfield was finally closed in the late 50’s and early 60’s and the land returned to their original owners. The concrete from the runways and perimeter roads was broken up and the material used to build the M-1 Motorway from London. It is ironic that the rubble from the London Blitz was used to build the runways in the first place.

Until they were finally taken away or demolished, some of the Nissen huts and buildings were occupied on occasions by Gypsies, or Travelers, as they like to be called. But they were never known to have spent a night in the old hospital.  Could they have sensed an “unnatural presence” in the old structure

Printed in Flak News Volume 10, Number 4, Page(s) 2, October 1995

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