RAF Coltishall in Norfolk became operational in May 1940, and was active until 2006. Initially conceived as a bomber base, it was pressed into service as a fighter airfield in 12 Group as battles in the air increased in intensity in May 1940. The first squadron to operate from here was S/L Rupert Leigh’s 66 Squadron flying Spitfires.
Squadrons based here during the Battle included 66 Squadron from 29 May 1940, 242 Squadron from 18 June 1940, 616 Squadron from 3 September 1940, 74 Squadron from 9 September 1940 and 72 Squadron from 13 October 1940. Douglas Bader was CO of 242 Squadron, which later in the Battle moved to Duxford. He joined his new squadron, mostly made up of Canadian pilots flying Hurricanes, at Coltishall.
Aircraft flying from Coltishall were part of the famous ‘Big Wing’ operating out of Duxford. Pilots who flew from here included Stanford Tuck, ‘Sailor’ Malan, ‘Cats Eyes’ Cunningham and Johnnie Johnson.
The airfield was attacked by the Luftwaffe on 18th August but little damage was caused.