Flying Aces

Remembering wartime legends of the air, gracing Halesworth skies – including USAAF servicemen based at Station 365 Halesworth (Holton) Airfield. 

Halesworth Airfield, Memorials & Military History

The fields and horizons around Halesworth remember WWII Halesworth Airfield at Holton – the USAAF airbase home to 3000 service personnel including American 8th Air Force bomber and fighter crews. Throughout the town, its farms and villages there are many memorials and reminders of military history dedicated to local – and less local – men and women who served their country or made the ultimate sacrifice.

Halesworth memorial garden and arboretum wioht Poppy painted shelter

More than Memorials 

Halesworth’s war memorial stands in a special town centre space, edging medieval St Mary’s and Market Place.

Planted in the early 1900s as Nottcutt’s ‘Arboretum’, the Memorial Gardens are a pleasant town-centre spot to stop and sit a while. Their elevated position makes them ideal for watching the town world go by… or reflecting a moment on the country views of poppyfields – the painted backdrops inside the garden’s two chalet-style shelters.

Holton Airfield memorial museum

Halesworth (Holton) Airfield Memorial Museum

Discover the stories and impact that having a three runway aerodrome and 3000 service personnel on the doorstep had on Holton, Halesworth and the surrounding villages.

In 1942 Station 365 Halesworth Airfield was built as a Class A bomber base close to the village of Holton. Primarily an airbase for the United States 8th Army Air Force (USAAF), Glenn Miller even gave a concert here in 1944. 

During its 4 years in operation, Station 365 not only hosted B24 Liberator bombers, but from 1945 also P47s, B17s , OA-I0A Catalina flying boats and P51 Mustangs.

Today, different propellers (wind turbines) mark the old airfield site, but photographs, memorabilia, combat mission records and the enthusiasm of the Airfield Museum volunteers keep memories alive. 

Plan your visit
Halesworth Thoroughfare WWII memorial

On the Flightpath…

In 1943 Flying Officer D. W. Field and his crew were returning to their base at RAF Oakington … in a failing and still fully loaded Lancaster bomber. 

The plane would have plummeted over central Halesworth and crashed with devastating effect and loss of life, if it hadn’t have been for the bravery of the pilot.

Flying Officer Field ordered his crew to bale out and steered it single-handedly away towards farmland. Remarkably he lived to tell the tale.  

The memorial is in Halesworth Thoroughfare and the full story shared below.   

WWI propeller memorial inside St Marys Church Halesworth Suffolk

Halesworth’s Own…

The prominent Johnston family of Halesworth and Holton Hall is remembered in a number of places around the town.

The Victorian family of bankers, MPs and ardent anti-slavery campaigners left the legacies of a school and Rifle Hall, both of which survive to this day.

Visit St Mary’s Church to discover perhaps their most poignant family memorial –  to Lieutenant Andrew Johnston lost in WWI.

A member of the Royal Flying Corps, his memorial  cross is made from a plane’s wooden propeller.   

Find out more Visit St Mary’s
Thankful Village St Michaels South Elmham near Halesworth Suffolk

Further Afield…

From the haunting WWI battlefield grave cross in nearby Blyford church to tales of Lt Joe Kennedy (brother of the US President) lost over Blythburgh, the villages around Halesworth each have their own wartime memories and military history to share. 

North of Rumburgh in The Saints, St Michael South Elmham celebrates being a doubly ‘Thankful Village’, where all from its parish who went to war returned home safely.  

Cycle. Walk. Explore. Remember…  

Halesworth Villages Walks & Trails Explore by Bike


These images share just some of the poignant reminders of Halesworth (Holton) Airfield Station 365 and other air servicemen heroes.

The Bomber that Missed

WWII Flying Officer D.W. Field is a true Halesworth Hero – a serviceman in “A” Apple No. 7 Squadron (Pathfinders) at RAF Oakington in 1943. He was not born, bred or based in the town, but this brave pilot and the crew of his Avro Lancaster bomber saved the town from severe damage, destruction and loss on life.

The inscription on the touching town centre memorial tells the miraculous story. The pilot single-handedly steered his failing, yet still fully loaded, Lancaster Bomber away from the town, to crash in the countryside near Chediston.

Remarkably, he survived and found help from villagers at Wissett. The crater created by the crash and explosion is all but filled, but the site is still distinguishable by a large hedge gap next to a country footpath.

Walk this way… 

Why not follow the town and country circular walk – Halesworth’s Flying Legend? It’s a poignant tribute which puts the story in perspective.

find out more

The Thoroughfare Memorial

Located at the heart of Halesworth’s main street, Thoroughfare, the memorial to Flying Officer DW Field and his crew was erected in gratitude by the people of the town.

The memorial’s inscription recounts the facts of that fateful night:

On the night of 20th December 1943, Flying Officer Donald William Field and his crew, came under heavy attack on a night raid to Frankfurt, forging them to return with a full bomb load which they were unable to jettison owing to damage in the hydraulic system. The pilot struggled for over two hours with the stricken aircraft before ordering his crew to bale out resulting in the death of warrant officer Richard Bradley Smith DFC, whose parachute failed to open. Flying Officer Field battled to keep height and valiantly steered his aircraft away from the populated area of Halesworth. He baled out at a height of only 800 feet before the aircraft crashed into the countryside between Wissett and Chediston. His courage an tenacity saved Halesworth from severe damage and large loss of life by the huge bomb load the aircraft was carrying.”

The Crew of ‘A’ Apple: Pilot F/O Donald William Field DFC; Flight Engineer Sgt Peter Kofoed; Navigator F/Sgt Tommy Kelly CGM, DFM; Air Bomber F/Sgt Arthur Halvorsen; Wireless Operator Sgt Robert Crawley; Mid Upper Gunner Sgt George Armstrong; Rear Gunner W/O Richard Bradley Smith DFC.

Interested in Discovering More? 

Explore the landscapes and reminders of Halesworth’s rich wartime heritage on foot, by bike, or on a gentle drive along timeless country lanes. Every Halesworth museum, every town centre heritage trail and every village on its doorstep has a special something to share and stories to discover.

From airfield Nissen huts to roadside memorials, gun emplacement pill boxes and meaningful hedge gaps to Rolls of Honour and plaques of remembrance, the reminders are there – concrete or otherwise.