Royal Air Force
Administrative Apprentices Association

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RAF Bircham Newton

RAF Bircham Newton was situated 8 miles W of Fakenham in Norfolk and opened in 1916 as a Royal Flying Corps tighter training school. In 1918 166 (Bomber) Sqn was formed and equipped with long range bombers intended to attack Berlin. Ultimately no live operations were flown although effectively, Bomber Command was effectively born there. Bircham Newton became a heavy bomber station in 1923 but in August 1936, it was rebuilt and was transferred from Bomber to Coastal Command. Between 1939 and 45, the station was used for convoy protection, reconnaissance, anti-shipping and U-Boat patrols. From 1945 to 48, it became home to the Air Beam Training Flight and Transport Conversion Unit, transferring to Technical Training Command in 1948 unti1 its closure in December 1962. The station was then returned to agricultural use and today is home to the National Construction College.

AATS moved from Hereford to Bircham in January 1959, the first entry to pass out being the 32nd at the end of March that year. The 36th to 46th Entries commenced their training at Bircham Newton but the 43rd En try however, was the last entry to complete its training there. The 44th, 45th and 46th entries were re-located to RAF Hereford in January 1963 – passing out in mixed flights of BEs and Apps together which was odd.

Bircham closed on the18th December 1962 with a Ceremony of Beating Retreat which coincided with the graduation parade of the 43rd Entry. The station did remain open as a storage facility for USAF for a few months and in 1965 was used briefly for trials of the Kestrel by the Tripartite Evaluation Unit based at West Raynham. The station was sold by public auction on 27 Novemeber 1964 at the Dukes Head Hotel in Kings Lynn.

There are numerous tales of ghosts at Bircham, particularly those haunting the squash courts. Also there are some who believe that the odd ghost or two of aircrew killed flying from the airfield still haunt the place. This is interesting stuff and if any ex-admin apprentice who served at Bircham or anywhere else who has ghost story to tell then do let us know!

RAF Bircham Newton is well known in ghost story circles, with tales of long dead WW2 fighter pilots wandering the corridors of its sick quarters, engine and hanger activity noises around its squash court and so on. The account below attributed to and is an extract from an article written by Bruce Barrymore-Halfpenny, and charts ghost-busting efforts to solve some of the Bircham mysteries ! If you can throw some further light on the matter or if you have your own RAF related ghost story to tell why not let us know click here to submit your tale.