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Ketteringham Hall HQ

History

Ketteringham Hall (Station 147) was the Second Air Division Headquarters from December 1943 to June 1945.

The headquarters were previously located at Camp Thomas in Old Catton from September 1942 to October 1943.

The hall was requisitioned for wartime use from the Boileau family. Their ancestors had purchased the house and park in 1836 and made extensive alterations in the Tudor style, as the house was originally built in the Tudor period.

Some family members refused to move out and continued to live in part of the house.

However, the interior was remodelled for use as the operational HQ.

On the ground floor of the hall were the Operations Section, war room and Intelligence Section.

The chapel, which the Boileau family built in 1840, was used as the operations room and a mezzanine floor was built to allow officers an overall view of a larger operations map.

On the first floor, over the main entrance, was the office of the Division Adjutant General. Also on that floor were the offices of the Commanding General, the Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff.

On the second floor those officers had their quarters and a small dining room.

The wing facing the pond was occupied by the Boileau family and in the annex was the Signals Section.

Nissen huts and other buildings were constructed in the grounds, mostly under cover of the parkland trees, creating a small village.

At a visit by veterans in 1987, one reminisced that she saw two shows by James Cagney in the nissen hut known as the ‘Opry House’.

There were about 700 people stationed at headquarters, including up to 300 women, at any one time.

The estate was returned to the Boileau family after the war. It was then sold to the Duke of Westminster in 1948.

It was firstly used as a school and in 1968 was leased to and later purchased by Lotus.

This successful sports car and racing team had moved from London to the former airfield at Hethel two years earlier.

If you're interested in the story of the Second Air Division at Ketteringham Hall, you can look up photographs and other items in our digital archive.

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