World War 2

and the Effects on Carbrooke

Carbrooke, Norfolk is a small agricultural village, yet has a surprising & fascinating history, with influences through the centuries from around the world.

Construction work began on an RAF base at Watton in 1937, which spanned the Parishes of Carbrooke Watton and Griston. Land was compulsory purchased from local landowners, which then became closed to the public. Local labour was used to built the aerodrome, and later to staff it. Being so close to an airfield, Carbrooke was in the danger line from German bombing raids. Men and women were signed up to either join the armed forces or for war work. There was an influx of first RAF personnel, and then American servicemen to the area.

…..On 29th October 1940, Carbrooke suffered its first air raid, when 20 bombs fell in the vicinity of Kippen Ash, the only casualties being 143 chickens, when one chicken hut was hit.

…..On 1st November, Watton air raid siren was sounded, and the school children sheltered in the porches, planes were heard, but no bombs dropped.

…..On 21st November a land mine fell in a field on Shipdham Lane, leaving a crater 33ft deep and 100yds wide, this was the most disturbed night so far from air raids.

…..On night of 18 February 1941, a Heinkel 111 was shot down at Ovington, the 5 crew were all alive.

……12th May, A Junkers 88 Dive Bomber, was bought down at Scoulton.

…..23rd June 1941, extensive manoevres took place, ‘with the village crammed with tanks, bren gun carriers, trucks, gun carriages and other military parphernalia’, the soldiers departed on 24th.

Carbrooke Homeguard. (Photo JS)

Carbrooke HomeGuard picture courtesy J Sussams

Carbrooke girls ‘First aid and home nursing’.(Picture thanks to Smith family).

USAAF servicemen at work and play.

Christmas 1944

Carbrooke Heritage Group have produced a book transcribed from the school log for the years 1939-45 which is a fascinating insight into Carbrooke life during WW2. ‘A Village School at War’ .

The American servicemen stationed in the area were very kind to the local children, providing gifts and parties, in this, set of books, ‘An Ocean Apart’ pictures and letters from Carbrooke pupils to a young girl in America during the war, were discovered in a museum in Norfolk Virginia.

To help with war work, the school closed for 3 days in October, so the pupils could help with potato picking.

American soldiers visited the school from time to time to tell the children of life in America, for example on 8th October 1943, a soldier from Indiana visited.

…..On 1st December, 4 American soldiers bought a jeep full of ‘candy’ for the children, offering to put on a Christmas party for the children. (held on 222nd December)

…..On 22nd Dec 1944 Carbrooke School was filmed by members of 8th Combat  Camera Unit USAAF for the American newsreel, at a Christmas party.(picture above)

 …..on 31 January 1945, 3 American soldiers planted 16 Lombardy Poplars in the school grounds on behalf of 46th Repair Squadron.

……. 8th February 1945, a group of ‘coloured Americans’ sang negro spirituals at the school.

Pill Box in Carbrooke. If you use the Aerolite Footpath, perhaps you have noticed this WW2 ‘Pill Box’. The Council have recognized the importance of this piece of our history, even if it is hidden in an unusual place. If you are not aware of it, why not take a stroll along the Aerolite to Caudle Springs footpath and have a look. (Take the narrow pathway to the right of Aerolite Garage on the Norwich – Watton Road, or the Public Footpath at Caudle Green Farm, Caudle Springs).

 This WW2 air raid shelter has just come to light in Carbrooke, during land clearance.

Operations room and canteen during the war.

A website of the complete history of RAF Watton, by Julian Horn  History Of The Aerodrome, RAF Watton (

A site containing photographs and information of the derelict site before the new housing developments.

Many lives were changed by the war, Norah (Smith) Lund from Carbrooke, married an American serviceman and emigrated to the States in 1946, she has shared some of her war time memories.

Read Norah’s memories as a ‘War Bride’

Memories of Carbrooke Life as a child – 1930’s/40’s  – A fascinating insight into life in Carbrooke during 1930’s and early years of WW2 by Doreen Gotts (nee Harvey) who was born in Carbrooke 1931, and passed away September 2020.

War Memories of Jean Sussams

We had several evacuees in the village, we had 3 families from the battle area, come to Carbrooke, Mr Crawford had two empty cottages at Kippen Ash, Mr and Mrs (F) Spraggs, and her grandfather had one and Mr C Spraggs and family had the second one, I can’t remember how long they lived there, then the bungalow on Mill Lane Corner came empty, and they moved there. Later her grandfather died, and they had permission from the MOD and they had his funeral and burial in one of the local churches. They lived in the bungalow for many years.

Hedley Goldsmith
Billy Fincham

Hedley Goldsmith and Billy Fincham both killed in action, are included on the Carbrooke War Memorial.

Page last Updated 07.05.2022