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American war historian reveals source of Stansted Second World War photos

An email from America has helped to solve the mystery of a rare collection of colour photos of Stansted airfield during the Second World War.

Carl Carrozza, whose father Frank was a radio operator and side gunner with the 344th Bomber Squadron who were based there, spotted the story on the Bishop's Stortford Independent website and immediately recognised the pictures.

"When I saw these pictures you posted and you didn't know who took them, I knew immediately," wrote Carl, from his home in upstate New York.

American airmen on Stansted airfield during WW2 (37531303)
American airmen on Stansted airfield during WW2 (37531303)

"It was Jack Havener. He was with the bomber group, and I have a folder of photos that were taken by Jack and these images were in there. He was known for taking a lot of colour photos, colour being in its infancy in those days."

Mountfitchet Castle owner Jeremy Goldsmith posted the images on Stansted social media forums in June after he was passed the copies by a fellow war enthusiast. He felt he ought to share them with the community and was overwhelmed by the public's response.

"Wow!" he said on learning that Carl had identified who took them. He plans to contact Carl to discover more about the bomber group's time at Stansted.

FACTFILE: Stansted's early history

  • The station was first allocated to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Eighth Air Force in August 1942. Construction work by US engineers of the 817th Battalion began that month.
  • The airfield was officially opened on August 7, 1943 and was used during the war as RAF Stansted Mountfitchet by the Royal Air Force and the USAAF as a heavy bomber airfield.
  • Although the official name was Stansted Mountfitchet, the base was known as simply Stansted in both written and spoken form.
  • As well as a bomber base, Stansted was a maintenance and supply depot concerned with major overhauls and modification of B-26s.
  • After the Americans' withdrawal on August 12, 1945, Stansted was taken over by the Air Ministry and used by an RAF maintenance unit for storage purposes. From March 1946 to August 1947, it was used for housing German prisoners of war.
  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation finally took control of Stansted in 1949 and the airport was then used as a base by several UK charter airlines.

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