Stories of RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall

Investigating 70 years of airbase and community

RAF Lakenheath is the largest US Air Force base in Europe. Originally built by the RAF as part of Britain’s defences during the Second World War, it has hosted the USAF since 1948. RAF Mildenhall was first established in 1930, and has been home to the USAF since 1950, and has been ‘The Gateway to the United Kingdom’ for most US military personnel and their dependents arriving or leaving the UK since 1958.

This community project is investigating how these airbases and their surrounding communities have co-existed alongside each other for the last 70 years.

If you would like to get involved, please get in touch with us on [email protected]

What the project has done so far

Photograph of a display of pop-up banners spread out through a large entrance hall of a building. Floor to ceiling windows illuminate the space and there are tables and chairs spread out.
‘I have three homes’ display at the hospital at RAF Lakenheath

Volunteers have undertaken archival research, and these stories have been shared with the schools connected with RAF Lakenheath.

RAF Lakenheath is not only home to American military personnel, but also to their families. There are five schools that serve the base, with over 2,500 children attending them. These schools have been working with Suffolk Archives to explore young people’s experiences of arriving and living in Suffolk. They have been inspired by items from the archive collections to express their opinions and share their stories with the people of Suffolk. See their work in our online exhibition ‘I have three homes’: Life as an American military child in Suffolk.

Their work can also be seen in a travelling display which is making its way around locations at RAF Lakenheath; if you would like to borrow the display please get in touch with us on [email protected]

We also worked with students at RAF Lakenheath to make some short films reflecting on their experiences of living in different countries:

Students at Liberty Intermediate School and Lakenheath High School also produced booklets of advice for students moving country, inspired by material from the Suffolk Archives collections:

Sharing Suffolk Stories

Stories of RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall is a Sharing Suffolk Stories project, part of a countywide programme of activities to run alongside the development of ‘The Hold’, which will engage more people than ever before in Suffolk’s archival heritage. Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Image of Sharing Suffolk Stories logo.