WEIRD SUFFOLK: The haunted airfield at Rougham and the ghost who prefers the company of the ladies
- Credit: Archant
The ghostly wartime aviators that still haunt Rougham Airfield in Suffolk, including one who fancies himself as a ladies’ man.
Ghostly figures, the strong scent of smoke, the sound of heavy bombers overhead, an unsettling feeling of being watched…Rougham Airfield. Once, this quiet corner of Suffolk thundered with the sound of B17s overhead as the friendly invasion saw an American air crew descend on Rougham. And, according to witnesses, some of the 3,000-strong crew remain in the county, the ghosts of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Witnesses talk to playful spirits hiding in Nissen huts, the ghost of an airman whose plane burst into flames is seen close to the base room, the control tower itself leaves people feeling uneasy and a pair of ownerless feet have even been spotted. Regular Weird Suffolk readers will remember that we have covered Rougham before with our strange tale of the Rougham Mirage but these ghosts are linked to the village’s World War Two airfield.
Home of the 94th Bombardment Group from 1942 until the end of the war, the group lost 153 aircraft and 1800 airmen were killed, listed as missing, injured or captured – 3,000 American crew were based at what is now a ghost field. Forever associated with classic American bomber the Boeing B17 Flying Fortress, Rougham’s airfield closed in 1948 and the flying surfaces returned to agriculture as the technical site became an industrial estate. The field is now the base of paranormal investigators Ghost Hunt UK which said, after its first visit to Rougham Control Tower that members were left suffering from “a paranormal hangover”.
Clare Wagg, of Ghost Hunt UK, said on Facebook: “What a night we had!
“All in all, it was a very interesting and interactive night giving us more questions then answers, some nice experiences and some names both new and old.”
The group discovered a “cross-eyed spirit” and a witness said they saw a human form turn into a dog before their eyes. At the Nissen huts one guest picked up the floral scent of jasmine, and other localised smells included fuel and the scent of fragrance Old Spice. The temperature was said to “plunge” at the huts in one spot, said to be a spirit enjoying the music the guests were playing. In the tower, the group were said to become aware of the presence of a ghost who apparently wanted “to make himself known with footsteps heard and the throwing of something that sounded like a screw or metal object in a different part of the tower”. But when the guests looked for the object they were unable to locate it or see anything out of place. Flashes of light and female voices talking when no one was there also spooked the guests.
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Clint Cansdale, paranormal investigator officer on the Rougham Tower Association committee, said he didn’t know whether to believe the paranormal reports or not, but he himself has experienced the floor creaking in one spot yet no-one was there. He said different ghost hunter groups had heard the name ‘George’ called out, but added it was a common name so difficult to trace to a particular airman. Most airman were not actually allowed within the control tower as it was restricted to control tower staff, he added. Mr Cansdale added: “A lot of people died on the airfield. A lot of people came back and the plane was badly damaged.”
Tragedy struck in May 1943 when a B-26 plane crashed onto the airfield, killing the crew and damaging a hangar and on May 17 1943, 11 planes were dispatched on a bombing raid from which not one returned. In 2016, a national newspaper ran a story about the discoveries of paranormal investigators Darren Jensen and his team of six who spotted something strange in a photograph they took in the corridor. They believe they caught a ghost on camera of a pilot killed during active service – the figure is in USAAF-issue blue uniform – and say that the spirit tried to make contact to the group, or rather to the women in the group.
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“We reckon only the ladies in our group are being approached by the spirits because the pilots, all men, had been away from home for a long time without seeing a woman,” said Darren.
“I definitely feel like the spirits are more attracted to the females – it would be really interesting to let the ladies investigate alone to see what things they experience.”
The airfield still has two runways available for civil use, the old T2 hangars are used for storage and enough ghosts to keep paranormal investigators busy for eternity.