2748 Squadron RAF Regiment
2748 Squadron RAF Regiment were stationed at Blakehill Farm from the 22nd March 1944.
Their primary role was to protect the airfield with Bofors and 20mm Hispano aniti aircraft guns which were positioned around the perimeter and at nearby farms to take down any attacking German aircraft.
The mark 1 army issue Bofors Gun below could fire a 40mm round at a rate of 220 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 3,400 feet per second. Each gun had an effective kill range of 9,300 yards (around 5.2 miles)
In a 2014 letter to the Cricklade Museum, LAC Stanley Naylor recalls his time at Blakehill in 2748 Squadron;
"The transport allocated to 2748 squadron consisted of 1 x 30 cwt Ford Truck, 3 x 15 cwt Bedford Trucks, 1 x 5/10 cwt Hillman convertable plus 5 motorcycles"
Our headquarters was installed in a wooden building on the far side of the airfield which according to the map will be beside the B4040. We were however sleeping under canvas. The rest of the Flights [sic] manned gun posts around the perimeter. We had a bolt hole in the fence to the road as it was too far to the main gate that was the best part of a mile away."
Cricklade Museum - 20mm Rounds
Cricklade museum holds examples in its Blakehill collection of 20mm rounds.
It is more than likely these (inert) rounds have come from a practice Hispano emplacement but there is the slimmest of chances that these rounds may (and we have to cautious in our presumption as always) be related to a 20mm Polsten gun.
20mm Polsten guns were used by airborne forces in Arnhem, towed behind a jeep and their high rate of fire proved them to be a very effective ground weapon.
One shudders at the effect of these 20mm rounds (which were designed to destroy aircraft) on infantry soldiers, but both the gun and jeep could be carried by a single Horsa glider. 13,828 of these guns were produced overall (in towed and other mounted variants). I have lifted images from the excellent arnhemjim.blogspot showing the 20mm Polsten loaded in a Horsa as well as one reported to be shown in theatre during operation Varsity, as well as a stock image of a Hispano AA gun emplacement.
We will of course never know for sure if these rounds were intended for Holland, but it is interesting to link some more pieces (at least tentatively) to the RAF Blakehill jigsaw. Thanks to Doug Withey and Paul Povey.
Right - stock image of a Hispano AA gun emplacement.
Below - jeep towed 20mm Polsten guns - Arnhem and Varsity