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Top secret airbase Nissen huts for sale as family home

PUBLISHED: 17:30 04 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:04 05 June 2019

Two Nissen huts at the former RAF Fersfield that are up for sale as a family home. Picture: TW Gaze

Two Nissen huts at the former RAF Fersfield that are up for sale as a family home. Picture: TW Gaze

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Two Nissen huts at a former Norfolk airfield from where secret missions were flown during the Second World War are up for sale as a family home.

Lieutenant Joseph P Kennedy Jr, brother of JF Kennedy, who died in a mission flown from RAF Fersfield. Picture: jfklibrary.orgLieutenant Joseph P Kennedy Jr, brother of JF Kennedy, who died in a mission flown from RAF Fersfield. Picture: jfklibrary.org

The wartime structures were part of the former RAF Fersfield airfield used for highly secret operations by the US airforce, including the final mission of Lieutenant Joseph P Kennedy Jr, the brother of American president John F Kennedy.

South Norfolk Council gave planning permission for the abandoned buildings to be restored and turned into a single dwelling last December.

The huts, on Wood Lane Farm, are now set to be auctioned next month at TW Gaze in Diss. With planning consent to become a three-bedroom family home, they are being advertised with an estimate of £120,000-£150,000.

Planning permission was granted in 2018 to convert the two Nissen huts at Fersfield into a single family home. Picture: TW GazePlanning permission was granted in 2018 to convert the two Nissen huts at Fersfield into a single family home. Picture: TW Gaze

Some 300 huts were built to accommodate up to 2,000 airmen stationed at Fersfield at the height of the Second World War.

Among the missions flown were experimental flights of specially modified explosive packed aeroplanes, piloted by crewman who would bale out leaving them to be remotely controlled to crash into enemy sites.

The two huts being sold are in better condition than other remaining structures on the former airfield area, which once also included an operations blocks and hangars.

This sign pointing down Airfield Road are among the few remaing clues of the former top secret airbase at Fersfield. Picture: Evelyn SimakThis sign pointing down Airfield Road are among the few remaing clues of the former top secret airbase at Fersfield. Picture: Evelyn Simak

The airfield was passed back to RAF before the end of the war before the end of flying in 1946. From 1950 it was used as a motor racing club track, before Eastern Counties Motor Club moved to the race track at Snetterton in 1954.

The remaining Nissen huts were for a time used to house local people with two paired up to provide one dwelling with a barn for each family.

In the planning submission to restore and convert the huts, Sarah Roberts, of Roberts Molloy Architects, said: "What remains at Wood Lane Farm is one such standing pair. As a remaining example of a fully kitted-out dwelling group, the huts are viewed as historic structures.

A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed "The Careful Virgin", one of the planes used in the secret missions flown from Fersfield. Picture: USAAF

"If no viable use is found for them, they will be lost and no physical record of the Second World War airfield at Fersfield and the use of the huts as family accommodation during the austere years following the war will be preserved.

"Although some huts can be found in other parts of the county and country as local bomb-group museums, domestic sheds or agricultural buildings, Nissen huts as family homes in the countryside are rare."

Last known photograph of Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. taken on day of his final flight, August 12, 1944. Picture: Rabit/WikipediaLast known photograph of Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. taken on day of his final flight, August 12, 1944. Picture: Rabit/Wikipedia

TOP SECRET MISSIONS

RAF Fersfield, or USAAF Station no.554, was built in 1942-1943 and used for top secret wartime operations.

One such was Operation Aphrodite that made use of unmanned, explosive-laden bombers that were deliberately crashed into their targets under radio control.

As the aircraft could not take off on their own, a crew of two would fly them to 2,000ft before activating the remote control system, arming the detonators, and parachuting out.

Lieutenant Joe Kennedy Jr, the brother of John F Kennedy, and his co-pilot Lieutenant Wilford Willy, took off in one such BQ-8 "robot" aircraft from Fersfield on August 12, 1944. It was to be used against U-boat bases at Heligoland in the North Sea.

However the explosives detonated prematurely and destroyed the plane, killing both men. The wreckage landed near Blythburgh in Suffolk.



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