Covering the coast, Burnham Market, Wells, Holt & surrounding villages

D-Day remembered

6th June 2024

As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, I visited The Control Tower at the former RAF North Creake airfield, where those who served played a vital role on D-Day and beyond, writes Amanda Loose

On 5 June 1944 at 2140 hours, 16 aircraft from 199 Squadron started taking off at one-minute intervals from RAF North Creake. Their mission – the first operation from this airfield a few miles outside Wells-next-the-Sea – was a highly secret one: to provide an electronic screen for the invasion force to hide behind so enemy radar would not pick up the Allied forces approaching Normandy. Three more planes took off later.

After hours in the air, with planes flying in a pattern to create the screen by sending out a jamming signal, the first plane arrived back at the airfield from their successful mission at 5.14am on D-Day, the last at 6.21am, with all returning safely (one was diverted to Langham). 

It was sobering to sit in what was the watch office 80 years ago, with The Control Tower’s owners, Nigel Morter and Claire Nugent, and learn what had happened there as Operation Overlord began. I arrived at 11am, the time that orders would have been posted for 6 June – crews expected to fly again that day but were stood down at 5pm. 

View to The Control Tower

RAF North Creake was operational from D-Day until May 1945 and to keep the stories of those who served at this airfield alive, Nigel has written Control Tower Calling, to be published on Saturday 8 June for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. The book tells the stories of RAF North Creake veterans, and details each aircraft lost. Nigel, a former academic, says: ‘Once we met veterans with all their stories and memories, I felt compelled to capture this story. It has been captivating piecing together the story of this station from fragments of history found in local and national archives, press cuttings and libraries. Pulling the threads of legends from families and memories from veterans together into a compelling narrative of this station.’

This June also marks the 10th anniversary of Nigel and Claire opening The Control Tower as a Bed and Breakfast, and the book interweaves their story, their love for the building and its history. 

As soon as they moved in, Claire recalls: ‘Local people arrived at our door clutching pieces of paper – log books for us to scan, the 1944 Christmas menu, original photographs and other priceless (to us) original documents – we knew then, the history was going to become a very large part of our lives.’

Claire and Nigel

As part of the Time to Remember Project, the couple raised over £50,000 and built a memorial on the former technical site of RAF North Creake. A Roll of Honour records the 73 members of aircrew who lost their lives while serving at the station and a sculpture of a Stirling bomber stands dedicated to all who worked at RAF North Creake. Both stand beside the B1105 at Egmere and can be visited, as I did today.

The Stirling bomber and Roll of Honour

A dedication ceremony took place on 5 June 2021 and information boards outlining the airfield’s history and explaining the Roll of Honour have been added by Nigel and Claire in preparation for the D-Day 80th anniversary events. 

Control Tower Calling by Nigel Morter will be available as a limited-edition hardback, from The Control Tower, Holkham’s Courtyard Gift Shop and Walsingham Abbey Tourist Information, RRP £30. A paperback edition will follow in September. Alongside a series of special stays, the book launch event on Saturday has sold out, as has RAF North Creake Remembered on Sunday, a gathering for those with a connection to the airfield. 

Guests at The Control Tower Bed and Breakfast all have the option to do a history tour. Keep an eye on their website and social media for news of forthcoming events, too.


Click here to join North Norfolk Living on Instagram