Forward Ammunition Depot (Bures)
USAAF Station 526


Since investigating the village history, by far the most interesting has been the discovery of a large war time ammunition dump in and around Bures Hamlet.
Very few remains are visible today, but hopefully after extensive research the following information will shed some light on this extraordinary site.

FREE PAGE:- This page is just a snapshot of much larger material which has been documented.

Unfortunately these pages are no longer updated,
as the full website concerning this research was being plagiarised and appearing on other sites without my approval
Consequently, it was taken down and published as a paperback during 2020 (Ed1), 2021(Ed2) and finally in 2022(Ed3)

Additional Informatin on the Books



Area covered by the Forward Ammunition Depot (FAD)

Motorists driving between White Colne, Pebmarsh and Bures Hamlet, hardly give a thought to why these idyllic country roads have such large lay-bys, broken concrete bases in the grass verges and missing hedgerows.

In one particular case, there is a small wooden garden gate standing alone in a hedge that serves no useful purpose and leads into an open field.

In reality, this gate led to a Nissen Hut which was the location of an Administration Centre for the USAAF Transport Division.

The personnel controlled the flow of traffic along all the roads between Bures and White Colne/Earls Colne railway stations.


Locally this all started back in 1942 when the Americans arrived and started to survey the surrounding countryside. One farmer, just outside Bures still recalls how the American "top brass" arrived in a large staff car, parked outside and proceeded unannounced to
wander around his land and the local area.
Were we destined for another airfield? With Wormingford airfield already up the road, this seemed unlikely.

Subsequently, the local community learnt that certain stretches of road were to be commandeered by the military for use as storage depots. Nobody was sure what this really meant or the implications.
During the Second World War, large quantities of munitions were produced and imported and needed to be stored prior to use. In order to prevent large ammunition dumps on airfields being destroyed by Luftwaffe bombing, they needed to be stored well away from these targeted areas.

The rural area between Bures, Pebmarsh, White Colne and Earls Colne could well have been the largest dispersal site in the country that utilised normal public roads.
There were two other sites like this in East Anglia but on a much smaller scale, Brandon and Earsham (Bungay)
The area west of the Bures, fulfilled the requirements of the military in that:
(a)it was a location sufficiently remote from the airfields at Earls Colne and Wormingford, which were prime targets for bombing;
(b)it was a location sufficiently close to the railway lines and airfields to reduce transport time and cost;
(c)it was close to a railway line, with links to the main lines
(d) easy access for building materials, Ferriers Farm sand and & gravel pit on site.
(e)the remoteness of the area meant that security could easily be maintained, with little chance of strangers going unnoticed or unchallenged.

The network of roads was constructed by a large number of black-American US Army servicemen. Local residents can still recall how they were made to work outside under atrocious conditions, with little consideration given to their welfare.

"The road to nowhere"

Access road into the FAD from Bakers Hall

The USAAF servicemen carried out road construction; ditches were filled in with rubble and concreted over to produce small areas of hard standing. These formed the storage bays, which were spaced approximately 50-100 yards apart for safety reasons
Hardcore for the roads was obtained from the brick rubble cleared from the bomb-damaged houses in London. A large number of lorries constantly travelled between London and the surrounding countryside supplying the insatiable demand for the road base material.
Evidence of this can still be found today with broken bricks and tiles ploughed up in the fields.
Hardcore/rubble was also transported by train to White Colne railway station, via Cambridge. The majority of this was used for runway building at Wormingford & Earls Colne airfields.
Vast concrete mixers provided the top surface layer. The amount of aggregate, hardcore and cement must have been on a gigantic scale when you appreciate the amount of additional road and dispersal sites that were constructed.
The sand and aggregate was obtained locally from local pits at Ferriers Farm and Alphamstone.
One local resident recalls it was near impossible to use the local roads after seven in the morning because of the number of sand & gravel lorries. Lorries rumbled thro` the villages from early morning until dusk.

Existing public roads were widened and those incapable of carrying any substantial weight, were reinforced with a layer of concrete. A typical example is the road between Daws Cross and Countess Cross, before the war was just a narrow dirt track but it was widened and a skim of concrete poured over the top, it has no base material whatsoever

In other cases, a hastily constructed "by-pass" circumvented roads with sharp 90deg corners. The large American lorries which were to be used, couldn`t accommodate these tight corners. One of these short by-passes which runs across farmland is known locally as "Yankee Road" -
The right picture shows an example of this road together with a war time Romney hut.

At Bakers Hall Bures, a complete road system was built across farmland to facilitate the movement of trucks, the erection of Nissen huts and guard posts.

Evidence of these dispersal bays are still known locally as the "bomb dumps" and can still be seen today some 60 years later (picture). Broken concrete slabs, wide verges and in many cases gaps in hedges are all evidence of the work carried out by the USAAF.



Bombs of all sizes were then transported along the roads and stacked on the areas of hard standing.
Picture taken on the Bures to Earls Colne Road

The stacks were then covered in camouflage netting. Hawthorn and other trees along the roadside were left and acted as further camouflage to prevent detection from the air.

Guard posts were erected at strategic points around the area to form an impenetrable barrier to unwanted visitors. Traveler's were stopped and questioned as to the nature and reason for their journey. Local villagers were issued with "passes" in order to traverse the area.
All footpaths were closed to the public by the Secretary of State for Air on 2nd March 1943
The HQ for the entire dispersal area was located at "Wakes Hall", on the main A604 (now owned by the charity SCOPE). This was the main administration building and used for the issuing of passes, telephone exchange etc

Woods were very much in demand as they were the ideal location to camouflage staff accommodation and in one case the storage of "incendiary devices" It would be difficult for the Luftwaffe to see these buildings hidden amongst the trees.
One very large wood between Bures and Pebmarsh even had its own internal concreted road system and housed something like 14 Nissen huts used by American personnel.

Not all Nissen huts were used for staff accommodation, others were used to house boxes of machine gun bullets used by the bomber and fighter aircraft. These bullets were stored in wooden boxes, which were often discarded by the Americans after they were emptied or even smashed as they were thrown around.
Guards took little notice of local children playing, but if they only realised what was hidden in that broken down pram they seem to constantly wheel around - firewood from broken boxes of course.

The logistics for this work must have been on a monumental scale as it was a 24hr operation. Ammunition was being transported to the roads for storage whils`t in reverse other material was being loaded up for onward transportation to the local airfields. The roads were so congested a simple one way system was devised to keep the traffic moving efficiently.
The entire area was officially known as the "Bures Ordnance Ammunition Depot USAAF Station 526"

However, Essex County Council records show the area around Bakers Hall farm as "Wakes Colne RAF Station"
The Dispersal Site area extended south into White Colne. Not to be confused with Wakes Colne which was given the name "Wakes Colne HHB, 19th AAA" (Headquarters & Headquarters Battery and Anti Aircraft Battery)

Last updated 2016