398th Bomb Group

Bomb Group Station Headquarters

By Wally Blackwell
November 2004

Malcolm Osborn, of the UK 398th Friends organization, has a collection of interesting 398th photos that spans the years. Ozzie accumulated a great deal of 398th material during Vic Jenkins and his operation of the Nuthampstead Airfield Research Society organization. During the 1970-1980 years Ozzie had great opportunities to talk to 398th veterans who returned to Nuthampstead on their own. Shown below are two interesting photos of the 398th BG Station 131 Headquarters area. Ozzie tells us that the photos were obtained from returning 398ers and he wishes to share this bit of history with us.

The first photo looks down the driveway entrance to the Headquarters grouping of buildings. Ozzie reports that the picture was taken in 1964 by Lt. Leland Zimmerman, a 602 Squadron pilot. The photo was taken from the middle of the main roadway that runs between the old main gate area to where the road divides, bearing to the sharp left to the flight line, and turning right upward to the Woodman Inn. It is quite remarkable that so many of the original buildings were still there 1964!

Participants in 398th tours that returned to Station 131 may be able to visualize the picture location. There is a white fence down the left side of the driveway now and a high hedge fence on the right side. The hedge conceals Tony and Greta Barker's home from the point of view of the photo. The Barker's home is in front of their present barn facilities, some of which are the old buildings. Of course the 1986 tour reunion's Barn Dance took place right there. Interestingly, the piece of well used concrete in the lower right of the picture is essentially still there. I believe it served as the foundation for some sort of small guard station building for the Headquarters area.

The second picture was given to Ozzie by Major Heyward Braddock, Co of the 325th Station Complement Squadron that provided ground logistical support for the 398th. Major Braddock reported that the photo was taken in 1944, which would have been at the height of 398th activities there. It appears that the focus of the picture may have been the blossoms (?) on the bush on the left, with a portion of the headquarter buildings for a background. The photo was taken over the fence from the field next door to the Headquarters area. Many of the fields in between the various 398th activity areas were in use by the locals. Maybe someone will remember positively that the Quonset shown housed Col. Hunter's office, being a bit apart from the other buildings, having the flag pole in front of it AND because the one of a kind (still being preserved by the Friends) 398th Group Insignia "Hell
From Heaven" disk that is on that building! Military formations (I guess
there were a few) would have been held in front of the fence and before the flag pole. The flag is flying! As described in the other photo description, the Barker house is now in the open space in the left foreground area of the photo.

So that is what I remember. Are there any others who have recollections?

Photos from the Malcolm "Ozzie" Osborn Collection

Station Group Headquarters - 1964 (by former Lt. Zimmerman)

Station Group Headquarters - Summer 1944 (by Major Heyward Braddock)

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