After the Americans left in 1945, many of the once busy airfields were abandoned. Their once full bunks were empty, magazines still left open in communal areas and their bicycles left rusting in piles on the ground. With the war over, there was no need for so many bases across such a small area. In many cases, the farmers, whose land had been taken over just before and during the war, were allowed to reclaim the land for farming once again.
The miles of solid paved concrete runways, perimeter tracks and hard stands provided an excellent resource for farmers or other small industries looking to build without needing to pour new foundations on the muddy East Anglian soil. Today, there are many large poultry producers and other light industries that still use the 70+ year old concrete as the base of their sheds and barns and even use the old hangers as warehouses. Other former bases found that these pavements could be used as a racing track or for private flying and gliding clubs.
Some fields did not close forever, and with the start of the Cold War the United States Air Force chose to continue the tradition of basing American air power in East Anglia. However, even these air bases are dwindling in number and being redeveloped into farm land or new communities.
Many people took advantage of the Americans leaving to explore the bases that had been their neighbours for the last few years. Once the last men had left on trucks bound for ships in Southampton, these “ghost towns” were free for picking and scrounging. A few people made sure to secure items that they needed or wanted before Americans even left, as Raymond Hubbard recalls: “At the end of the war …the chap who was going to start our scout group up, he went up there and saw the last commander up there. He gave us two stretchers, and four tables, and all the chairs we wanted to start this scout troop, and we actually started in one of the Nissen huts….”