The History of RAF Blakehill

From forest, to farm to war, to nature - a pocket history of the site

  • In 1943 the UK government requisitioned 580 acres of land to create an airfield by compulsory purchase.     The airfield was named RAF Blakehill, taken from the name of the farm that once stood at the top of the hill to the south of the airfield.    The ruins of the farm house, yard and buildings are still situated on the hill on private land.RAF Blakehill was one of three airfields (the others being Broadwell and Down Ampney) to be constructed north of Swindon to house No. 46 Group, the RAF formation that brought together the tactical air transport squadrons that were to support the army in the planned invasion of Europe. 

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  • RAF Blakehill was one of three airfields (the others being Broadwell and Down Ampney) to be constructed north of Swindon to house No. 46 Group, the RAF formation that brought together the tactical air transport squadrons that were to support the army in the planned invasion of Europe.

  • Two, T2 hangars were erected along with other airfield buildings such as training, administration and accommodation for personnel – the control tower or ‘watch office’ stood to the south of the site alongside runway number 2.   Most of the airfield buildings have now been demolished with the exception of a ministry shed near to the wildlife hospital, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s  ‘Whitworth Building’ and buildings in the ‘technical site’ which now form Chelworth Industrial Estate.    Many of the sites off the B4040 Malmesbury Road were occupied by Nissen huts for accommodation for families and personnel, and a school was set up in the fields opposite the industrial estate entrance, which has now been converted for stables.

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  • The station opened on 9th February 1944

 

  • First flying squadrons appeared in March 1944 – the first was No.233 Squadron operating C47 Dakotas

 

  • Mid march 1944 -  Horsa Glider towing training was introduced, then eventually parachute dropping.

 

  • 24th April 1944 – a rehearsal known as Operation Mush, took place as a dress rehearsal for the airborne phase of the invasion over Salisbury plain.

 

  • During this period, many aircrews gained experience of flying operations by flying ‘Nickelling’ missions over northern France, dropping propaganda leaflets.

 

  • 1st June 1944 – airdrop phase of operation Overlord, No. 233 Squadron was joined by part of another No. 46 Group squadron, No. 271, who were deployed to Blakehill Farm due to congestion at Down Ampney.   The airfield was sealed, no-one was allowed in or out without a pass, and local farmers had to work whilst escorted with armed guard.

D DAY OPERATIONS - RAF BLAKEHILL FARM - OPERATION 'TONGA'

Operation Tonga was the airborne phase of Operation Overlord, or, the D Day Landings. On the evening 5th June 1944 the peace in the south of England was shattered as 362 transport aircraft from fifteen RAF squadrons started their engines from eight separate airfields.   RAF Blakehill was one of them - the first aircraft to take off from RAF Blakehill were six No.233 Squadron Dakotas towing Horsa gliders of The Glider Pilot Regiment at 22.50 hrs.   They were followed by 24 Dakotas carrying troops. 

  • Dakota III KG424 

    • W/C N E Morrison (Captain)​

    • F/L A Johnstone (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O H Cowie (Navigator)

    • F/O Sharpe (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG341 

  • Dakota III KG329 

    • F/O E E Wood (Captain)​

    • F/S A W Illingworth (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O D W B Carr (Navigator)

    • Sgt I Thomas (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ678 

    • F/L H J Barley (Captain)​

    • F/O W L Greenwood (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O G N Taylor (Navigator)

    • F/L C Inglby (Wireless Operator) 

  • Dakota III KG315 

    • F/O J H Fram (Captain)​

    • F/O N C Trigg (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O J C Pinder (Navigator)

    • W/O R G Johnston (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG415 

    • F/O J F Halmand (Captain)​

    • F/O K F Munro (2nd Pilot)

    • F/Sgt B H Wallington (Navigator)

    • W/O H P C Welch (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG313 

    • S/L B A Miller (Captain)​

    • ​​F/O F R Priestley (2nd Pilot)

    • F/L G N Taylor (Navigator)

    • Sgt D G Morris (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG403 

    • F/O R R C Hyne (Captain)​

    • W/O R W Evered (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O J L Knapp (Wireless Operator)

    • W/O G E Fotheringham (Navigator)

  • Dakota III KG410 

    • F/O P I Burden (Captain)​

    • F/O F R Marricks (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O M K Fitzpatrick (Navigator)

    • W/O O D Moore (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ685 

    • F/L A B S Holdsworth (Captain)​

    • F/S Cooper (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O E S Smith (Navigator)

    • W/O V O M Roberts (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG427 

    • F/O C D Hamilton (Captain)​

    • F/O W Menzies (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O F B Knight (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt L J Firth (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG399 

    • F/O A C MacAvley (Captain)​

    • F/O A C Lord (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O J Slater (Navigator)

    • W/O W J Watt (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG440

    • S/L G D Lane (Captain)​

    • W/O M W Lee (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O A H Wallace (Navigator)

    • F/O J F Sweeney (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ686 

    • W/O R P Holliday (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt E J E James (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O W G A Cosens (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt H J Richardson (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG400 

    • W/O R Chesney (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt P Johnson (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O G A Coppel (Navigator)

    • Sgt R E Simmons (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG430 

  • Dakota III KG433 

    • W/O R D Saunders (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt O D Lock (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O F A Hickay (Navigator)

    • W/O N H P Conrad (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ679

    • F/O R S Down (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt W R Neal (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O C H F Cousins (Navigator)

    • W/O N M Elliston (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG356 - CRASHED - SHOT DOWN

    • F/O H E Jones (Captain)​ - KILLED IN ACTION

    • F/Sgt J A Daldorph (2nd Pilot) - Baled out of aircraft

    • F/O L N Williams (Navigator) - Baled out of aircraft

    • W/O C Engleberg (Wireless Operator) - Rescued from aircraft wreckage

  • Dakota III KG429 - CRASHED - SHOT DOWN

    • W/O M M McCannell (Captain)​ - KILLED IN ACTION 

    • F/Sgt A R Porter (2nd Pilot) - KILLED IN ACTION

    • W/O A T Downing (Navigator) - KILLED IN ACTION 

    • W/O N L Berger (Wireless Operator) - KILLED IN ACTION 

  • Dakota III KG455 

    • W/O G S Wright (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt I Cooper (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O P F White (Navigator)

    • Sgt F B Lewis (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ672 

    • S/L C J Mackencie (Captain)​

    • F/O D C Harcus (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O R S J Phillips (Navigator)

    • F/O W C Bradley (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG437 

    • F/O J A Stewart (Captain)​

    • F/O D A Todd (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O R S J Phillips (Navigator)

    • F/O W C Bradley (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ688 

    • F/O F W Vines (Captain)​

    • F/O G B Wood (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O J K M Eadie (Navigator)

    • W/O F Henry (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ448 

    • F/L A Cody DFC/DFM (Captain)​

    • F/L M R Sisley (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O A C Hollingworth (Navigator)

    • Sgt G P W Goodfellow (Wireless Operator)

 

  • Dakota III FZ681 

    • F/S A W Coventon (Captain)​

    • F/S R L Beighton (2nd Pilot)

    • F/S J A Edwards (Navigator)

    • F/S G N Mirfin (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG412 

    • W/O N Mills (Captain)​

    • Sgt E Woodgate (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O J Buckton (Navigator)

    • Sgt G G Sparkes (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ692 (Kwicherbichen) 

    • W/O J P R McRae (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt S Delarmere (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O W A Milne (Navigator)

    • W/O S C Davidson (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG420 

    • F/L R McIlraith (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt P M Diamond (2nd Pilot)

    • F/Sgt A J Philips (Navigator)

    • F/O G Smee (Wireless Operator)

  • Horsa Glider under tow from tug C47 - Glider Pilot Regiment  

    • Lt Pickwoad (Pilot)

    • Sgt Watts​ (2nd Pilot)

  • Horsa Gliderunder tow from tug C47 - Glider Pilot Regiment  

    • S/Sgt England (Pilot)

    • Sgt Graham (2nd Pilot)

  • Horsa Glider under tow from tug C47 - Glider Pilot Regiment  

    • S/Sgt Banks (Pilot)

    • S/Sgt Hebblethwaite (2nd Pilot)

  • Horsa Glider under tow from tug C47 - Glider Pilot Regiment  

    • S/Sgt Ridgeway (Pilot)

    • S/Sgt Foster (2nd Pilot) - KILLED IN ACTION

  • Horsa Glider under tow from tug C47 - Glider Pilot Regiment  

    • S/Sgt Herron (Pilot)

    • Sgt Davidson (2nd Pilot)

  • Horsa Glider under tow from tug C47 - Glider Pilot Regiment  

    • S/Sgt L Weeden (Pilot)

    • Sgt Griffiths (2nd Pilot)

D DAY +1 OPERATIONS - RAF BLAKEHILL FARM

OPERATION 'ROB ROY ONE'

6th - 7th June 1944 – Dakotas from No.233 Squadron RAF flew a re-supply mission to the 6th Airborne Division, dropping 371 supply panniers containing fuel, ammunition, radio sets and rations on DZ 'N' in the Caen area.  

  • Dakota III KG424 CRASHED - SHOT DOWN BY ALLIED SHIPPING

    • S/L C Wright AFC (Captain)​ - TAKEN POW 

    • F/O E Q Semple (2nd Pilot) - TAKEN POW - ESCAPED

    • F/O B Cowie (Navigator) - TAKEN POW

    • F/O C J Williams (Wireless Operator) - TAKEN POW - ESCAPED

  • Dakota III KG341

    • W/O G P Bailey (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt E G Warrington (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O N S Beckett (Navigator)

    • Sgt E C Pitt (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG329 CRASHED - SHOT DOWN BY ALLIED SHIPPING

    • F/O E E Wood (Captain)​ - KILLED IN ACTION  

    • F/S A W Illingworth (2nd Pilot) - TAKEN POW 

    • P/O D W B Carr (Navigator) - TAKEN POW 

    • Sgt L Thomas (Wireless Operator) - TAKEN POW 

  • Dakota III KG441 

    • F/L R N Lestang (Captain)​

    • P/O J G Dijkstre (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O A R Williamson (Navigator)

    • P/O A F Payne (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ666

    • F/O W F Chambers (Captain)​

    • Sgt F J Cronk (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O F H Hill (Navigator)

    • Sgt J Stott (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG692 

    • F/O K M Dober (Captain)​

    • Sgt R G Barlow (2nd Pilot)

    • F/Sgt T F Bartlett (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt A A K Tyrrel

  • Dakota III KG455 

    • W/O G S Wright (Captain)​

    • F/S L Cooper (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O P F White (Navigator)

    • Sgt F B Lewis (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG448 

    • F/L A Cody DFC DFM (Captain)​

    • F/L M R Sisley (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O A C Hollingsworth (Navigator)

    • Sgt O P W Goodfellow (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG412 

    • W/O N Mills (Captain)​

    • Sgt E Woodgate (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O J Buckton (Navigator)

    • Sgt G G Sparkes (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ681 

    • F/S A W Coventon (Captain)​

    • F/S R L Beighton (2nd Pilot)

    • F/S J A Edwards (Navigator)

    • F/S G N Mirfin (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG566 

    • S/L C J Mackenzie (Captain)​

    • F/O D G Harcus (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O L V Whitehouse (Navigator)

    • W/O J L Dodds (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG437 

    • F/O J A Stewart (Captain)​

    • F/O D A Todd (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O R S J Phillips (Navigator)

    • F/O W C Bradley (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ688 

    • F/O F W Vines (Captain)​

    • F/O G B Wood (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O J K M Eadie (Navigator)

    • W/O F Henry (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ669

    • F/O N W Gustafson (Captain)​

    • F/O G R Tozer (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O S Allen (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt J Hickey (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ680 

    • F/L O L Broadley (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt W F Farquarson (2nd Pilot)

    • F/Sgt A G Bishop (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt H C Plank (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG315 

    • F/Sgt P R Russell (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt F H Jones (2nd Pilot)

    • F/Sgt D C Schofield (Navigator)

    • W/O A S Burgess (Wireless Operator)

D DAY +7 - 13th June 1944 - THE WOUNDED RETURN

On this day, two C47 Dakotas from No.233 Squadron became the first allied aircraft to land in France after the D Day invasion.   On their return they brought 20 casualties, made up of 14 stretcher cases and 6 walking wounded.   This was the first time that casualties had been evacuated by air.

  • Dakota III KG427 - took off 0506hrs - destination B2 Brazenville

    • F/O C D Hamilton (Captain)​

    • F/O Menzies (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O F B Knight (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt L J Firth (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ686 - took off 0506hrs - destination B2 Brazenville 

    • W/O R P Holliday (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt E J E James (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O W G A Cosens (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt H J Richardson (Wireless Operator)

Later on the same day, x2 No. 233 Squadron C47's transported HQ Personnel from 83 Wing to B2.

  • Dakota III KG440 - took off 1300hrs - destination B2 Brazenville 

    • S/L G D Lane (Captain)​

    • W/O M W Lee (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O A H Wallace (Navigator)

    • F/O J F Sweeney (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ678 - took off 1300hrs - destination B2 Brazenville  

    • F/L H J Barley (Captain)​

    • F/O W L Greenwood (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O G N Taylor (Navigator)

    • F/L C Inglby (Wireless Operator)

THE FLYING NIGHTINGALES FLY

To much publicity, as soon as returning aircraft landed they were greeted by 42 War Press Correspondents from Canadian, American and British newspapers.

 

Three WAAF volunteers had become the first women to fly into an active war zone on active service by the British Government. They paved the way for further medical evacuations and became an overnight sensation with the media who gave them the nickname 'The Flying Nightingales'.    

Below - Myra Roberts, Lydia Alford and Edna Birkbeck in battledress, Mae West Lifejackets and parachute harnesses. The Red Cross armband is worn for press purposes.

 

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Blakehill Farm had a Causality Air Evacuation Centre (CAEC) below - it was here where the wounded were brought back for assessment and if necessary, transport to other hospitals.

Further supply flights along with evacuations from Normandy continued until the preparations for Arnhem.      By the end of June 1944 alone, 1092 stretcher cases and 467 sitting wounded had been evacuated back to the UK, totalling 1559 personnel in total.   Many more were to return.

 

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4th September 1944 – a new flying unit was formed – Husky Squadron No.437 – Royal Canadian Air force.   Both No. 437 RCAF and No. 233 RAF were then prepared for operation ‘Market Garden’ – the fateful attack on the Arnhem bridges......

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Wing Commander Jack Sproule DFC and Squadron Leader Charles 'Mac' McVeigh pose on the port wing of a C47 Dakota with the squadron mascot, 'Brevet' who's likeness is captured in the squadron insignia.

17th September 1944

RAF BLAKEHILL FARM - OPERATION 'MARKET'

"A BRIDGE TOO FAR"

"On Sunday 17th September 1944, two thousand and twenty three transport aircraft and four hundred and seventy eight gliders lifted off from airfields across southern and eastern England carrying troops from the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and the British 1st Airborne Division.    This was the first lift of the largest airborne operation in history."

(source William F Buckingham "ARNHEM" ISBN 978-1-3981-0156-2)

 

Blakehill Farm played it's role in this historic moment.

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17th September 1944

THE FIRST ARNHEM LIFT

First Arnhem Lift - 233 Squadron RAF

22 Dakota aircraft of 233 Squadron RAF with 22 Horsa Gliders in tow of the Glider Pilot Regiment 'F' Squadron took off at 0956hrs loaded with equipment and carrying troops from the 7th Kings Own Scottish Borderers.

  • Dakota III KG427 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O C D Hamilton (Captain)​

    • F/O Wheeler W G (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O F B Knight (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt L J Firth (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ685 - GLIDER TUG

    • S/L R Daniel (APC) (Captain

    • F/Sgt Walker P (2nd Pilot)​

    • P/O P J Nixon (Navigator)

    • W/O Bennet E (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG399 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O K Dober (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt Barlow R (2nd Pilot)

    • F/Sgt T V Bartlett (Navigator)

    • W/O Tyrell A A (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG410 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/L P I Burden (Captain)​

    • F/S Gaic C R (2nd Pilot)

    • F/C Fitzpatrick (Navigator)

    • F/C O D Moore (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG403 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O R Hyne (Captain)​

    • W/O Evered R (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O G B Fotheringham (Navigator)

    • F/O J Knapp (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG561 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O G Clarkson (Captain)​

    • F/O J P Williams (2nd Pilot)

    • F/S Rains (Navigator)

    • F/O C Williams (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG341 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O G Bailey (Captain)​

    • P/O E G Warrington (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O L H Williams (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt Fitt R C (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG430 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/L A C Mackie (Captain)​

    • F/O M Hunter (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O J Proctor (Navigator)

    • F/L D Goodwin (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG455 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O Wright G S (Captain)​

    • F/O Cooper L (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O Wright P S (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt Lewis F B (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG433 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O Sunders R E (Captain)​

    • F/S Lock O F (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O Cousins C H F (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt Hatwyard C A (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ665 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O R McGowan (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt Hopkins R W (2nd Pilot)

    • F/Sgt Harmer G (Navigator)

    • W/O Swann C (?) (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG400 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O Taylor J W (Captain)​

    • F/S Edmends L A (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O H Eagles (Navigator)

    • W/O Want W C A (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG585 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O McRae J P R (Captain)​

    • F/S Delamere S (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O Milne W (Navigator)

    • W/O Davidson S C (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG351 - GLIDER TUG

    • S/L C J Mackenzie (Captain)​

    • F/O D G Harou(d?) (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O Whitehouse L V  (Navigator)

    • P/O J L Dodds (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG437 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O J Stewart (Captain)​

    • F/O D A Todd (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O R S Phillips (Navigator)

    • F/O W C Bradley J (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ678 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/L H J Barley (Captain)​

    • F/O W L Greenwood (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O G N Taylor (Navigator)

    • F/L C Ingelby (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG586 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O Russel F R (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt Jones F H (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O Schofield C (Navigator)

    • P/O J Welch (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ690 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/L O L Broadley (Captain)​

    • F/S Farquharson W F (2nd Pilot)

    • F/S Bishop A G (Navigator)

    • P/O H C Plank (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ681 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O Cranefield K G (Captain)​

    • F/S Stapleford B A (2nd Pilot)

    • F/S Holmes T  (Navigator)

    • F/Sgt Hastings D M T (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG448 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O F W Vines (Captain)​

    • F/O G B Wood W G (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O J K Eadie J (Navigator)

    • P/O F Henry (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG313 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/C W E Coles (DFC AFC) (Captain)​

    • F/L G R Frew (2nd Pilot)

    • F/L A Johnstone (Navigator)

    • F/O E J Sharpe (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG412 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O J H Fram (Captain)​

    • F/O N C Trigg (2nd Pilot)

    • P/O J C Pinder (Navigator)

    • P/O R G Johnstone (Wireless Operator)

First Arnhem Lift - 437 Squadron RCAF

12 Dakota aircraft of 437 Squadron RCAF took off at 1003 hrs towing 12 Horsa gliders of the Glider Pilot Regiment 'F' Squadron carrying 1st Battalion Border Regiment troops and equipment.

  • Dakota III FZ697 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/Lt R S Down (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt W R Neal (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O N S Beckett (Navigator)

    • W/O N M Elliston (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG447 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O J M Byrnes (Captain)​

    • F/O W E Simpson (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O K E Hunt (Navigator)

    • F/S J R Chambers (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG415 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O J F Haldimand (Captain)​

    • F/S Summerfield (2nd Pilot)

    • F/S B H Wallington (Navigator)

    • F/O J Rechenne (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ669 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O C N Roy (Captain)​

    • F/O B M Clarke (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O D R Goodwin (Navigator)

    • W/O G A Sproule (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ666 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O W F Chambers (Captain)​

    • Sgt J Pope (2nd Pilot)

    • P/O F H Hill (Navigator)

    • F/S J Stott (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG441 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O E Q Semple (Captain)​

    • F/S J A Daldorph (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O F A R Macaky (Navigator)

    • W/O M H F Conrad (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG489 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/C J Sproule (Captain)​

    • F/O R S Purkis (2nd Pilot)

    • P/O E K Walker (Navigator)

    • F/S D B Fennel (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG389 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O W E McLean (Captain)​

    • F/O D A Cox (2nd Pilot)

    • F/S P A Turner (Navigator)

    • W/O R Mercer (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ626 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O F E Fitzgibbon (Captain)​

    • W/O E H Parsons (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O R W Fox (Navigator)

    • W/O S E Thayer (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG422 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O J A Delahunt (Captain)​

    • F/S D S Cooper (2nd Pilot)

    • P/O G L Breckon (Navigator)

    • F/O L D Hornsby (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG577 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O O A Simmons (Captain)​

    • NO RECORD ON SQUADRON LOG OF (2nd Pilot) ???

    • P/O W Taylor (Navigator)

    • W/O G A A Murdock (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG452 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O R L Pearson (Captain)​

    • F/O W H Wetherilt (2nd Pilot)

    • P/O L E Rooke (Navigator)

    • P/O J C Smith (Wireless Operator)

First Arnhem Lift  - The Glider Pilot Regiment

  • Glider Pilot Regiment - Horsa Glider Pilots/2nd Pilots under tow from tug C47

  • From either 233 Squadron RAF or 437 Squadron RCAF

  •    

    • S/Sgt. A. E. Ayton 

    • S/Sgt. R.F. Banks - KILLED IN ACTION

    • S/Sgt. J.E. Boucher

    • Sgt. S. Bralee - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. A.H. Brayley - TAKEN POW

    • W.O.I. (R.S.M.) M.J. Briody

    • Lt. (Sec. CO) P.R. Clark

    • S/Sgt. D.W.B. Creevy

    • S/Sgt. P.J. Dalzell

    • Sgt. D.N. Davidson

    • Sgt. Davies

    • S/Sgt. P.O Davies

    • Sgt. V. Davison

    • Sgt. W.V. Dean

    • S/Sgt. W.B. Denholm

    • S/Sgt. S.T. Dodd - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. D. Dowse

    • S/Sgt. B. Drurey - KILLED IN ACTION

    • Sgt. T. Ferguson

    • Sgt. P.J.F. Gammon

    • Sgt. W.M. Garbutt - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. J.F. Graham - KILLED IN ACTION

    • S/Sgt. J.M. Hall

    • Sgt. Hart

    • Sgt. N. Hartford

    • Sgt. J.R Heap - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. B. Hebblethwaite - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. J.F.R Herron - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. G.H. Hogg - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. W. Holcroft

    • Sgt. L.H. Howes- KILLED IN ACTION

    • Sgt. A.S.L. Jenner - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. E.E. Johnson

    • Sgt. M. Johnson

    • S/Sgt. R.W. Jones

    • Sgt. Lewis

    • Sgt. J.E. Lewis

    • Sgt. M. Lister

    • S/Sgt. D.B. Lowe - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. C.H.C. Lyons - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. H.T. Maddison - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. C. Marriott - KILLED IN ACTION

    • S/Sgt. B? Marshall

    • S/Sgt. S.F.T. Mathews - KILLED IN ACTION

    • Sgt. A. McKimm

    • S/Sgt. W.C. McLaren - KILLED IN ACTION

    • S/Sgt. D.E. Moorcock - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. T.R. Moore

    • S/Sgt. W.B. Naismith

    • Sgt. S.H Neil - TAKEN POW [Mr Francis Neil (son) is in contact with website author] 

    • S/Sgt. S. Neill

    • Sgt. (Towmaster) C. Palfreeman - STOWAWAY-  Jumped in one of the last gliders. and attached himself to F sqdn, 14 flight. 

    • Sgt. H. Parkinson - TAKEN POW

    • Lt. (OC) A.E. Pickwoad

    • S/Sgt. E.G. Prince 

    • Sgt. F.G. Redding - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. H.T. Rice

    • Sgt. J.K. Robertson - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. W.T. Sherry - TAKEN POW

    • Lt. (Sec. CO) R.V.C. Steevenson - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. E. Stubley

    • Sgt. D.P.R. Thorndale - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. M. Tobin - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. J. Walters - KILLED IN ACTION/DROWNING

    • S/Sgt. R.J. Ward - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. M.N. Watts - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. E.C. Wedgbury

    • S/Sgt. L.L. Weeden

    • Sgt. B.G. Whitfield - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. L.D. Young

18th September 1944

THE SECOND ARNHEM LIFT

Second Arnhem Lift - 233 Squadron RAF

17 Dakota aircraft of 233 Squadron RAF with 17 Horsa Gliders in tow of the Glider Pilot Regiment 'No. 5 Flight 'D' Squadron took off at 1043hrs loaded with equipment and carrying 84 troops of the 2nd Air Landing Anti Tank Battery.

  • Dakota III KG599 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/C W E Coles DFC AFC (Captain)​

    • F/L G R Frew (2nd Pilot)

    • F/L A Johnstone (Navigator)

    • F/O E J Sharpe (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG415 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O J Framm (Captain)​

    • F/O N C Trigg (2nd Pilot)

    • P/O J C Pinder (Navigator)

    • P/O R Johnstone (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG586 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O F R Russell(Captain)​

    • F/S F H Jones (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O D C Schofield (Navigator)

    • W/O R Burgess (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG410 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O White A L (Captain)​

    • Sgt J M Crossman (2nd Pilot)

    • P/O A Edwards (Navigator)

    • W/O O E K Tink (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG399 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O M T Ades (Captain)​

    • F/S J H Dorville (2nd Pilot)

    • P/O F S W Dyer (Navigator)

    • F/S K Hickey (AFM) (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG403 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O Green A J (Captain)​

    • F/S G C A Jeffery (2nd Pilot)

    • F/L A S  Burks (Navigator)

    • W/O H Josland (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG441 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O Curtis H (Captain)​

    • F/S L E Butcher (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O B N Caplan (Navigator)

    • W/O Birchnell H G (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG400 - GLIDER TUG

    • P/O R Chessney (Captain)​

    • F/O N C Cummings (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O G A Coppel (Navigator)

    • F/S R E Simmonds (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG440 - GLIDER TUG

    • S/L G Lane AFC (Captain)​

    • NO PERSONNEL LISTED (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O Proctor  (Navigator)

    • F/O J Sweeney DFM (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ686 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O Holliday R F (Captain)​

    • F/S E J James (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O G A Cozens (Navigator)

    • W/O H F Richardson (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG589 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/L W A Jenkins (Captain)​

    • F/S J Turner (2nd Pilot)

    • F/S Lovatt H Cozens (Navigator)

    • F/S W A Lee (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG420 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/L R McIlraith (Captain)​

    • F/S C R Meade (2nd Pilot)

    • W/O A J Phillips (Navigator)

    • F/S G Smee (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ678 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/L H J Barley (Captain)​

    • F/O W Greenwood (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O G N Taylor (Navigator)

    • F/L C Ingelby (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG412 - GLIDER TUG

    • W/O N Mills (Captain)​

    • F/S R Woodgate (2nd Pilot)

    • F/L J Buckton (Navigator)

    • F/S C G Sparkes (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG313 - GLIDER TUG

    • S/L B A Miller (Captain)​

    • F/O F Priestley (2nd Pilot)

    • F/L R Taylor (Navigator)

    • Sgt D G Morris (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG427 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O D Hamilton (Captain)​

    • F/S W G Wheeler (2nd Pilot)

    • P/O F B Knight (Navigator)

    • F/S L J Firth (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG448 - GLIDER TUG ABORTED - GLIDER CHALK 773 - TOW ROPE BROKEN

    • F/L A Cody (Captain)​

    • F/O F J Colman (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O A C Hollingsworth (Navigator)

    • F/S O R Goodfellow (Wireless Operator)

Second Arnhem Lift - 437 Squadron RCAF

 

6 Dakota aircraft of 437 Squadron RCAF took off at 1003 hrs towing 6 Horsa gliders of the Glider Pilot Regiment No. 5 Flight 'D' Squadron 

  • Dakota III KG566 - GLIDER TUG 

    • F/O N W Gustafson (Captain)​

    • F/O G R Tozer (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O S Allen (Navigator)

    • W/O L E Cox (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG489 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/Lt R W Alexander (Captain)​

    • F/O W J McLintock (2nd Pilot)

    • F/S A McHugh (Navigator)

    • F/O J Rechenuc (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III FZ639 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O G P Hagerman (Captain)​

    • F/Sgt J C Hackett (2nd Pilot)

    • P/O M S R Mahon (Navigator)

    • W/O J P DeChamplain (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG568 - GLIDER TUG

    • P/O K E Rasmussen (Captain)​

    • F/O C BePol (2nd Pilot)

    • F/S R E Griffith (Navigator)

    • F/S F B Steele (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG422 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O J A Delahunt (Captain)​

    • F/S D S Cooper (2nd Pilot)

    • F/O G L Breckon (Navigator)

    • F/O L D Hornsby (Wireless Operator)

  • Dakota III KG452 - GLIDER TUG

    • F/O O A Simmons (Captain)​

    • NO PERSONNEL LISTED (2nd Pilot)

    • P/O W Taylor (Navigator)

    • W/O G A A Murdock (Wireless Operator)

Second Arnhem Lift  - The Glider Pilot Regiment

  • Glider Pilot Regiment - Horsa Glider Pilots/2nd Pilots under tow from tug C47

  • From either 233 Squadron RAF or 437 Squadron RCAF

    • Sgt.S. Auty - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. E.S Bevan 

    • S/Sgt. S.G. Bonter - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. R.S. Browne 

    • S/Sgt. K. Chappell - TAKEN POW

    • Lt. (Sec. CO) K.T. Chittleburgh - KILLED IN ACTION

    • S/Sgt. D. Donaldson - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. C. Fisher -  KILLED IN ACTION

    • S/Sgt. L.J.  Frater

    • S/Sgt. L.N. Gibbons 

    • Sgt. J. Green  

    • Sgt. E.H. Hockley - TAKEN POW 

    • S/Sgt. J.A. Howe - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. J.A. Knapman

    • S/Sgt. R.A. Long - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. R. Lund - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. J. Merryfield   

    • S/Sgt. W.D. Morgan 

    • Capt. (OC) J.A.Morrison - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. R.F. Nettell - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. D.S.Parker - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. T.W. Pearce  

    • Sgt. F.G. Powell - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt.C.D. Richardson - KILLED IN ACTION

    • S/Sgt. R.D Rose - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. F.E.J. Sampson 

    • Lt. (Sec. CO) H.R. Sykes - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. R.K. Taylor 

    • Sgt. J. Tonks - TAKEN POW

    • Sgt. P.J. Tyler - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. A.A. Clark - KILLED IN ACTION

    • Sgt. J. Evans - KILLED IN ACTION

    • Sgt. C. Gell - KILLED IN ACTION

    • S/Sgt. D.R. Pragnell - TAKEN POW

    • S/Sgt. L.F. Watson - KILLED IN ACTION

    • Sgt. A.E. Watt - TAKEN POW?

​​

  • 23rd September 1944 - RAF 437 Squadron Dakota III serial KG305 left RAF Blakehill at 1320 on re-supply mission to Arnhem.  Hit by Flak and crashed 1½ km SW of Driel at approximately 17.00 hrs - Some other sources suggest 16:10hrs - ​The aircraft was a total loss - there were no survivors.  The crew were initially buried at the crash location in a field by local civilians.

  • 24th Oct 1944  – FZ655, one of 437’s Dakota failed to return from Antwerp – Flt/Sgt Schneider declared missing - air nursing orderly Margaret Campbell was later buried at Calais – crew killed – mercifully the aircraft carried no wounded on board that could have been heading back to Blakehill bringing the total losses to 12.

  • 24th March 1945 - Operation Varsity saw the last major operation by Dakotas from Blakehill, with aircraft relocated to with the crossing of the river Rhine to establish a bridge head north of Wesel – Operation Varsity – a total of 1600 transport aircraft, 1330 gliders and 21,700 troops across airfields in the UK and France.

 

  • May 1945 - No.437 Squadron moved to the continent to provide shuttle services for Allied bases.

  • 8th June 1945 – No.233 Squadron moved to Odiham in Hampshire.

 

  • No.22 Heavy Glider Conversion Unit moved to Blakehill from Fairford with large Hamilcar Griders and Albermarle glider tugs  – disbanded 15th November 1945

 

  • December 1945 – No.575 Squadron – then moved and flew out to Bari in Italy at the end of January 1946.

 

  • December 1945 – No.1528 Radio Aids Training Flight with Airspeed Oxfords trained here, using the station’s blind approach for training.  Left in August 1946.

 

  • 5th November 1946 – 1957 - From 1946, RAF Blakehill Farm was placed into “Care and Maintenance” with only very limited activity. However, Gloucestershire was now home to the RAF’s Instructor Training School, the Central Flying School (CFS), which had the job of “teaching the teachers” – training new Flying Instructors. Originally set up in May 1912 at Upavon in Wiltshire, CFS moved to RAF Little Rissington (affectionately called “Rissie”), near Stow on the Wold, in 1946. Primarily, this was to cope with the advent of jet aircraft but it was soon realised that additional space was needed and so Basic Training went to RAF South Cerney while Jet and Multi-engine Training went to “Rissie”. It was also decided to allocate “Relief Landing Grounds” (RLGs) which were designed to take some of the load off the main Training Airfields at busy times. No aircraft would be based at the RLGs, but, should the airspace become crowded at the main Fields, aircraft could fly over and use the RLGs for a few hours, returning “home” each evening. It was decided to allocate RAF Blakehill Farm as one of the RLGs for RAF South Cerney. In that capacity, RAF Blakehill Farm continued to witness aircraft such as the Tiger Moths, Prentices, Piston Provosts and Chipmunks (see Fig 1) who would turn up and practice “Circuits and Bumps” – the “trainee” Instructors learning how to teach Takeoffs, Circuits and Landings. Occasionally, the grass airfield at South Cerney would get too water-logged and muddy and so aircraft would “decamp” to RAF Blakehill Farm until things had “dried out” back at Base. One such detachment of Prentices “decamped” to Blakehill for a few days in early 1951 but, generally, it was just “day visitors” and there was little infrastructure retained at Blakehill Farm itself. In 1957, the Sandys Defence White Paper, produced by the then Minister of Defence, Duncan Sandys, suggested that the days of manned aircraft were over and, as a result, there was a significant reduction in Flying Training; RAF Blakehill Farm was no longer needed as a RLG and peace returned to the airfield. Its days as a Flying Field were over and Blakehill Farm reverted to “Care and Maintenance”.

 

Post War Aircraft BHF.jpg

  • c1955 – Royal Observer Corps underground monitoring post installed due to the threat of nuclear war.

 

  • 1967 – Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) set up an experimental radio and monitoring station.   The county’s tallest wooden radio mast at 200 feet high was installed, amongst many other top secret instruments.

 

  • 1970’s – Partial site clearance when the runways were ripped up and used as hardcore for the M4 motorway.

 

  • Memorial cairn dedicated on 25th Sept 1994 in the presence of the Commanding Officer of 437(T) Sqdn Canadian Air force, the chairman of Cricklade Town Council and other dignitaries, supported by the Cricklade Band and the Royal British Legion 

  • 25th April 2004 - public unveiling ceremony of the GPR and 233 Squadron RAF/Nursing Orderlies/Ground Crew Cairn at the former main gate at RAF Blakehill Farm in the presence of members of the Glider Pilot Regiment, supported by the Cricklade Band and the Royal British Legion 

  • 2000 – Present - Site finally disposed of by the MOD.  240 Hectares converted to Wildlife Reserve by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, new features such as ponds, tracks and fencing installed.   Rest of land purchased privately and returned to farmland.

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