The American War Bride Experience

GI Brides of World War II

Near village of Bourne End, Hemel Hempstead, Herts.
Bovingdon Airfield

Bovingdon Airfield was constructed on agricultural land close to the village of Bourne End between 1941 and 1942. It was built for the RAF, but before completion was allocated to the USAF and became Eigth Airforce base. It was mainly a training and supply airbase, but some missions, the first in October 1942 when 24 B-17s took part in a raid on steelworks at Lille, were flown from there.

Most VIPs who came across the Atlantic to visit Britain landed there including the stars who came to entertain the troops - Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Clark Gable, Glenn Miller and many more.

General Eisenhower's personal B-17 was based at Bovingdon during the time he was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. The airfield was a major staging post for aircraft returning to the USA and in 1943 the famous Memphis Belle left Bovingdon (picture above) to fly back to the States for a war-bond raising tour of the country.

At the end of the war. Bovingdon also became a well-used passenger and freight airport as well as an American base. It finally closed in 1972 and part of the site was used to build a prison, The Mount.

A busy Saturday market is also held on another part of the old airfield and banger racing also takes place there. Our picture, above, shows the ruins of the control tower today.

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© 2005 M. Thomas