Crash at Shackleford Heath, Mitchell 30th Aug. 1944

Shackleford Heath, Mitchell crash, 16:45 hrs, 30th Aug.1944

Compiled by Frank Phillipson

16:45 hrs, 30th August 1944

North American Mitchell II, FW268, EV-O, (a 180 Squadron aircraft).

Shackleford Heath (Opp. Cyder House PH(?), Pepperharrow Ln., Shackleford.

Hit trees on an air test and flew into ground.


Lieut. Cees Waardenburg DFC (Pilot) Royal Dutch Naval Air Service, 320 (Dutch) Squadron (?)(flying with 98 Squadron), Aged 23 killed. Originally buried at Rudgwick – 1964 moved to Dutch section of Mill Hill Cemetery, London

Flying Officer (Air Gunner) Henry George Payne, 139 Wing, 180 Sqdn., RAF, Age 27, killed. Buried at Rudgwick.

C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Mitchell Crash 30.8.44 Shackleford, ORB 180 Sqdn..jpg Continue reading “Crash at Shackleford Heath, Mitchell 30th Aug. 1944”

Grade II Listing for VTO Pads and Engine Running Pens

Engine running pens and VTO blast grid at Dunsfold Airfield, Cranleigh, Surrey – Awarded Listed Building Status

The latest news from Historic England is published here:

Following the application to add the above building to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, we have now considered all the representations made and completed our assessment of the building. Having considered our recommendation, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has decided to add the Engine running pens and VTO blast grid at Dunsfold Airfield to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. They are now listed at Grade II.

VTO Tethering Pad during the early development tests of vertical take off and landing
Engine running pens

Please click on the link below to download a copy of Historic England’s advice report, which gives the principal reasons for this decision. The List entry for this building, together with a map, has now been published on the National Heritage List for England, and will be available for public access from tomorrow. This List can be accessed through the Historic England website.

The local planning authority will now be preparing the statutory notices required under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

DAHS Editor’s note:  This brings the total of Listed Structures on the Airfield site to 5:

Primemeads Farm – Grade II

VTO Blast Pads – Grade II

Engine Running Pens – Grade II

Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post – Grade II

Canadian War Memorial – Grade II

Crash of two RAF B-25’s at “Pallinghurst” Rudgwick 7th Jan. 1944

Collision and crash of two RAF North American Mitchell II bombers at “Pallinghurst” (now the Japanese Rikkyo School, approx. 2.5 miles south-east of Dunsfold airfield), Guildford Rd, Rudgwick on 7th January 1944. (2nd Revision Dec.2018)

Compiled by Frank Phillipson with Acknowledgement to Rudgwick Preservation Soc.

Jan. 7th 13.35 hrs. North American Mitchell II, FR396, Code letter ‘K’ pilot Flying Officer (F/O) Fooks of 180 Squadron collided over Rudgwick, West Sussex with Mitchell II, FL682, Code letter ‘N’ pilot Warrant Officer (W/O) Riordan of 98 Squadron. This occurred as they approached RAF Dunsfold in two separate 6 aircraft box formations in poor weather. They were returning having just bombed targets in Occupied France: –

180 Squadron on Primary Target a V1construction site at “XI/A/93, La Sorellerie II” (No.16 Château du Pannelier, Brix)at 12:58hrs from 12,000ft and

98 Squadron on Alternative Target (because of cloud over the Primary) a V1construction site at XI/A/41,Mesnil Au Val”(No.18 L’Orion) at 12:55hrs from 12,000ft.

Crew members of both aircraft were all killed.

Aircraft ‘FR396/K(Fooks) of 180 Squadron and ‘FL682/N‘ (Riordan) of 98 Squadron were not noted as having or not having dropped their bomb load. Aircraft ‘B’ and ‘X’ of 180 Sqdn. and aircraft ‘V’‘P’‘S’‘U’ and ‘X’ of 98 Sqdn. did not bomb due to cloud cover obscuring the targets. Each aircraft carried 8 x 500lb Medium Capacity bombs. Therefore more aircraft of 98 Squadron (5) failed to drop their bombs than those of 180 Squadron (2).

An account of excavation of the two crash sites carried out in the 1990’s records that: – “Pieces (were) recovered from the area of what had been the orchard on the edge of the (lower) football pitch. This aircraft must have come down flat as it did not penetrate the ground to any depth, (and we) thought it had burnt on the surface. The other aircraft dived into the ground in front (north east) of the building (stables),(in the) area of the big bush (rhododendron), but (we) didn’t investigate as area had been landscaped”.

One Mitchell ‘FL682/N‘ (Riordan) of 98 Squadron crashed in a fairly flat manner and burst into flames 200 yds south-east of “Pallinghurst” in an orchard. If still bombed up, its bombs may have fallen out as the aircraft descended and landed in a nearby field where they either

exploded or were defused. Otherwise they may have been retained within the aircraft and as

there was seemingly no explosion with this aircraft when it hit the ground, were defused by RAF bomb disposal team after the crash.

The other Mitchell ‘FR396/K(Fooks) of 180 Squadron dived straight into the ground 200 yds north-east of “Pallinghurst” on the County Boundary near the stables. The aircraft had probably not dropped its bomb load due to cloud cover obscuring the target. One or more bombs exploded, either when the aircraft hit the ground or fell out and exploded nearby as the aircraft descended. Other unexploded bombs were defused.

Witness: – Emily Harwood (nee Covey) b.1923, daughter of the Gamekeeper (Ernest Covey) to the Pallinghurst Estate, owned by Ernest and Katharine MacAndrew.

“One day I shall never forget (7th January 1944) Mitchell bombers were returning to Dunsfold on an operational flight, but, unable to find the target had bombs on board. Two collided over Pallinghurst, one crashing in front (actually behind and south-east) of Pallinghurst House, the other one by the stables. The bombs fell out of the plane and landed in a field close to my father. He fell behind a tree which took most of the blast. Mr MacAndrew’s daughter [Kitty (Katherine Flora Lund)] was blown into the pond and received a cut on her leg, but all the airmen died. A few years later, when we were settling down once again, Mr MacAndrews decided to plant some rhododendrons near where the plane had crashed. My brother, now home from the RAF, was the Head Gardener, and he and the other gardeners planted them”.

Witness: – Mel Reynolds, (a 5 year old boy), standing at a Tismans Common (¾ mile to the south-east) with a group of 3 other children. He was told, at the time, that the aircraft were returning from a raid on the German Forces in France and one of the aircraft had been badly damaged. Two other aircraft were in close formation with it escorting it back to Dunsfold. Just before streaming in for the landing at Dunsfold he vividly recalls seeing the damaged aircraft dip and touch wings with one of the others and then one went one way and the other went the other both spiralling down out of control. He saw one aircraft crash followed by a very large explosion which he said shook the ground. (Both the aircraft were in two separate six aircraft box formations and were not escorting any damaged aircraft: – 180 Sqdn. ORB “Aircraft FR396 was returning from an operation flying in box of six aircraft when it collided with Mitchell FL682 of No.98 Sqdn. in another formation. Both aircraft crashed, FR396 diving straight into the ground”).

C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\AHB Letter re Map Ref. for Mitchell at Pallinghurst.JPG

Above: – MoD Air Historical Branch letter identifying a crewman from FL682 at stables crash site. However, subsequent investigation seems to show that the map reference to the stables site (499532) seems to have been used in reference to both aircraft. C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\3rd Map Revision for 2nd Revision Crash location of 2 RAF MItchell bombers at Pallinghurst 7th Jan 1944 (2).JPG

Above: – Hambledon ARP Log.

Above: – Situation Report SE Regional Civil Defence Area. 8 bodies recovered.

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Above: – 98 Squadron Operational Record Book, Summary of Events.

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Above: – 180 Squadron Operational Record Book, Summary of Events.

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Above: – 98 Sqdn. Operational Record Book, Record of Events 7/1/44.

Transcript of 98 Sqdn. ORB, 7/1/44.

Operations on La Sorellerie II. Alternative – Mesnil Au Val which was attacked by F/L. Wilson’s box. A/c “N” of 98 Sqdn was in collision with a/c “K” of 180 Sqdn on return from the raid and crashed 3 miles S. of base. All of crews killed.

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Above: – Station (RAF Dunsfold) Summary of Events 7/1/44.

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Above: – West Sussex County Council Action Minute BookChichester 7 Jan 1944

Transcript: –

13.45 RUDGWICK 2 planes crashed at approx 13.35 hrs. Bomb or bombs exploded as a result. Region notified at 13.48.

14.40 RUDGWICK One plane crashed at Pallinghurst Map Ref. 499-531. Fire. N.F.S. on spot (National Fire Service). Some bombs exploded, others unexploded. One slight civilian casualty S.C. (Sitting Cases) car dispatched.

15.18 RUDGWICK 2 Mitchells from Dunsfold Aerodrome crashed at Pallinghurst at 13.35. One crashed 200 yds NE of the house right on the County boundary, the other 200 yds S of the house (actually SE of house). One bomb exploded after crash. 4 UXBs [unexploded bombs] found and dealt with by RAF. 3 bombs not found. 4 bodies from one plane found. Damage to stables, cottages and Pallinghurst House. Region notified at 15.25.

16.15 RUDGWICK All bombs now detonated. Total bodies found 5.

Region notified 16.20.

16.30 RUDGWICK Nothing further to report. Incident closed.

Aircraft Accident Report cards for Mitchells FR396 and FL682

The Aircraft Accident Report cards courtesy of the RAF Museum for both Mitchell FR396 and FL682 contain a brief description of what happened and the conclusions of the Court of Inquiry (CoI). The salient details of the crash are roughly transcribed here: –

Mitchell II, FR396, Code letter ‘K’, pilot F/O Fooks, 180 Squadron.

Flight time: – 1hr. 45mins. Accident time: – 13:33.

F/O Fooks: – Total Flying Hours: – 520. Total Flying Hours on Type: – 222.

In formation collided with Mitchell of other formation.

Pilot following leader (of “Blue” box formation) – leader PCM (?).

If gunners had left microphone on, warning could have prevented accident.

Leader did not follow plan. Broke away too early.

CoI Recommendation: – Stricter control of a/c near drome.

Orders given for gunners to leave microphone on.

C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\Aircraft Accident Card FR396 Fooks 180 Sdn. 01.JPG

Above and below, Aircraft Accident Report cards for Mitchell II, FR396, Code letter ‘K’, pilot F/O Fooks, 180 Squadron.

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Mitchell II, FL682, Code letter ‘N’, pilot W/O Riordan, 98 Squadron.

Flight time: – 1hr. 28mins. Accident time: – 13:33.

W/O Riordan: – Total Flying Hours: – 245. Total Flying Hours on Type: – 90.

Collided with A/C of other formation.

A/C caught fire in the air after collision.

Pilot beyond criticism as in formation with leader.

Leader of “Blue” box formation (180 Squadron) did not conform to tactical plan as he didn’t apparently fully understand it, and so broke away too early.

Orders that gunners leave microphone ‘on’.

Had this been done warning might have been given in time to avert accident.

Steps have been taken to exercise stricter control over a/c flying in the vicinity of dromes.

It would seem that with Riordan’s aircraft FL682, which caught fire in the air, is the most likely candidate to be the aircraft that crashed in a fairly flat manner and burst into flames 200 yds south-east of “Pallinghurst” in an orchard. If so, then Fooks’ aircraft FR396 is likely to be the one that dived straight into the ground 200 yds north-east of “Pallinghurst” on the County Boundary near the stables.

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Above and below, Aircraft Accident Report cards for Mitchell II, FL682, Code letter ‘N’, pilot W/O Riordan, 98 Squadron.

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Crew of Mitchell FR396 of 180 Squadron

Flying Officer Ernest Fooks, pilot, 32, from New Zealand, Buried at Brookwood

Pilot Officer Leonard Taylor, navigator, 24, from and Buried in Birmingham.

Flight Sergeant Charles Forsyth, wireless op/gnr, 23, from Peacehaven, Buried Newhaven.

Flight Sergeant George Ormandy, gunner, 20, from and Buried in Beckenham.

Crew of Mitchell FL682 of 98 Squadron

Warrant Officer Terence Riordan, pilot, 22, from Abergavenny, Buried at Brookwood.

Flight Sergeant Douglas Morris, navigator, 23, from and Buried in Abergavenny.

Flight Sergeant Stanley Norton, wireless op. /gnr, 22, from and Buried in Lincoln.

Flight Sergeant William Cross, gunner, 22, from and Buried in Preston.

Flg. Off. Ernest Berjeu FOOKS, Pilot, from New Zealand, (Mitchell FR396 of 180 Sqdn).

Buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery 2. B. 1, Service Number 146328, Died 07/01/1944, Aged 32, 180 Sqdn. RAF Volunteer Reserve, Son of Alfred Augustus and of Adele Catherine Fooks, of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. Brother P/O Harry Gordon Compton Fooks RNZAF killed on 21/7/1941 in crash at Marcham, nr. Abingdon, Berkshire on training flight in Armstrong Whitworth Whitley V, N1527, with No.10 OTU at RAF Abingdon.

C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\Ernest Berjeu Fooks 306183 - Copy.jpg C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\Fooks Brookwood.JPG

Plt. Off. Leonard Augustus TAYLOR Navigator (Mitchell FR396 of 180 Squadron). Buried Brandwood End Cemetery, Birmingham. Service Number 168632, Died 07/01/1944, Aged 24, Son of William and May Taylor, of Small Heath, Birmingham.

Flt. Sgt. Charles Henry FORSYTH W/Op.AG (Mitchell FR396 of 180 Squadron).

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Killed while returning on his 30th Operational Flight (the last of a Tour of 30 flights).

Flt. Sgt. George ORMANDY, Air Gunner, (Mitchell FR396 of 180 Squadron).

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Warrant Off., Terence RIORDAN, Pilot (Mitchell FL682 of 98 Squadron)

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Flight Sergeant Douglas MORRIS, Navigator, (Mitchell FL682 of 98 Squadron).

Flt. Sgt. Stanley Charles NORTON, Wireless Op/Air Gnr, (Mitchell FL682 of 98 Sqdn).

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Flt.Sgt. William James CROSS, Air Gunner, (Mitchell FL682 of 98 Squadron)

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Photo of Flt. Sgt. William Cross – Courtesy Arthur Burns.

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Crew of Mitchell FL682 of 98 Squadron.

“Pallinghurst” (shown below in 1930 from the air) looking north east, had a very productive garden and orchard (to the right, with the timber-framed Garden House, where the head gardener lived, and (white) glasshouses for peaches and grapes as well as bedding plants and flowers, in line with the other buildings. The park landscape and avenue to the main road are shown clearly, as is the foreground planting that keeps the view from the house open to the southerly view.

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On the left is the tennis court. The stables on the right would have been home to a dozen or so hunters. The lodge, just visible in the background was home to the head chauffeur. Some oak trees visible at the top of the drive were ‘county oaks’ marking the boundary, thought not to be there now. To the left, just off the picture was the wild garden, woodland managed for attractive walks along the rides.

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V1 Construction sites Target Information

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C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\V1 Target Photos\V1 Sites Normandy Map - Copy.JPG

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Update September 2019:

A memorial stone has been unveiled near the site of the crash:

Mystery Mitchell Crash Summer 1944

Bill Allom has asked for some more information on a number of incidents at Dunsfold during 1944 that don’t appear in our limited records.  Bills father was stationed at Dunsfold with 180 Sqdn.

1 – The first is about a Mitchell FL 217 that crashed on landing on 20/6/1944. Bill states: I think this date is correct my ORB copy is poor and hard to read”

2 – The second query:   Bill says:  ” My father returned on a mission with the hydraulics shot out. While the ORB does not indicate the plane crashed on landing it appears to never fly again.   This occurred on 24/7/1944 in Mitchell FW 185.  Dad records 40 hits a/c badly holed, hydraulics shot up. Could the undercarriage still be lowered with damaged hydraulics?   I am unable to confirm if this aircraft returned to service or was written off.  I hope you can help solve these mysteries.”

Continue reading “Mystery Mitchell Crash Summer 1944”

Crewman’s story of flying B25’s from Dunsfold

The following story was written by my father, Ray Mitchell, in 1995, for the newsletter of 139 Wing Association. 1995 was the 50th anniversary of VE Day, and also my parents 50th wedding anniversary. Called up in 1942, Ray had met my mother whilst working in the Air Ministry. He courted her throughout the rest of the war, until marriage in June 1945, a month after D-day. Final de-mob, and my arrival, came in 1946!     2005 will be their diamond-wedding anniversary.    139 Wing Association has now disbanded; living memory of WW2 will soon pass into history and be left to historians and others to argue about. It is important that those who were there tell their story.
Fraser Mitchell – eldest son.
“Its May 1995, and I am lying in bed, thinking of all the urgent tasks to be performed that day, such as pruning roses, and suddenly remembering where I was fifty years ago.   Yes, its near VE Day, and I am suddenly Corporal Ray Mitchell – Radio Technician, working on those lean and hungry-looking B25 Mitchells at Achmer airbase, Germany.

I came to 180 Squadron at Dunsfold in mid-1944 after a rather soporific career in Training Command working on ancient Oxfords, and clapped-out Blenheims, installing and servicing, believe it or not, battery operated transmitter/receivers run on 120 volt batteries and 6 volt accumulators. Anyone going on leave with a ‘sparks’ badge on their uniform were always being stopped by RAF police in their search for disappearing HT batteries; there was a shortage everywhere in wartime.    Training command were always short of airfields and were constantly sending flights of aircraft around the country to odd and empty airfields so that trainee pilots could get the hours in. Ground crews followed and from main base at Grantham I was shuttled around Harlaxton, Bottesford, Balderton, Woodvale, and finally Hawarden (near Chester) where suddenly the Orderly Room announced ‘You’re posted, chum’.

To Dunsfold and 139 Wing, my first posting to a REAL Air Force; where there was pressure and tension in the air; where everything had to work 100% first time; where Form 700 was taken very seriously!    Where those B25s with their bobbing noses on tricycle undercarriages would chase you along the perimeter track if your servicing truck dawdled at 40 mph. There was no ‘scrounging’ here, everyone knew that they were an integral part of the fighting machine.  Dunsfold was a noisy place in those days. With Wright Cyclone engines and two to three ops a day, and thirty-six plus Mitchells taking off there was always urgency in the air.

ROYAL AIR FORCE: FIGHTER COMMAND, TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943. (CH 11040) North American Mitchell Mark IIs (FL707 ‘EV-Z’ nearest) of No. 180 Squadron RAF, taxiing along the perimeter track at Dunsford, Surrey, for take off on a cross-Channel bombing sortie in support of Operation STARKEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

D-day approaches; we are now all in tents scattered in the woods around the base. On the ‘Day’, maximum effort puts 9 boxes of 6 aircraft into the air several times. The effort continues month after month, many of us are taught to drive and a few months later we are on our way to Ostend and Brussels. To Zaventum Airbase (now Brussels Airport), and that old convent, a welcoming population and a winter of ops, opera in the Theatre Monnaie, and Pouishnoff playing Chopin one evening.

So many memories; they come flooding back. The day the Luftwaffe strafed the airfield, fortunately after our aircraft had got airborne. And the days in Spring 1945, when the war seemed won. But not quite. Flying bombs started to fall around us. A lone Luftwaffe jet suddenly drops a bomb on a dispersal – an instrument mechanic working alone is dead. I had been working on a radio in that very dispersal shortly before.   And now it is April, and in a final push, 139 Wing Mitchells are moved up into Germany to help finish the war, to Achmer near Osnabruck. I flew up with the advance ground crew party.
Memories again. We bank over the Achmer airbase. I hear the pilot say “how the HELL can we land there”. We orbited a few times. Down below was a lunar landscape of thousands of overlapping craters; all neatly inside the airfield boundaries. Precision bombing on a vast scale; it must have been the Yanks ! Many craters had, however, been filled in despite appearances from the air, and after a very bumpy landing we unloaded our tents and kit. Next day a large party of German civilians approach us. Our first glimpse of the “enemy”. We are worried. We put our clips into our Sten guns, but no problem. They are the civilian staff of the airbase, and expect to be taken on by the ‘new management’, which they are. First job, digging latrines. Second job, hairdresser.

North American Mitchell II of No.180 Squadron, Rickard, J (2 October 2008),

Memories Fade. Did 139 Wing carry out real ops from Achmer ? It seems that only a few days after arriving there, VE Day was announced. Where’s that photo I had of us all in front of a B25? And the one of the floods after torrential rain?

VE Day and now what? No more bombing, nothing more to “do”. Achmer soon reverts to peacetime. Almost a holiday camp now! Swimming in the Ems-Weser Canal; the Malcolm Club, sunbathing, sightseeing flights over the Ruhr to see the bomb damage, leave in Brussels – and leave back home to marry a lovely London Scottish girl. Our Golden Wedding and VE Day anniversary go together.

And finally! Worries about being transferred to the Far East are over after Hiroshima. (“If only we’d had one to drop” we all agreed, we would have been home sooner.) But the Americans want their B25s back; 139 Wing is converting to Mosquitoes. Fewer ground staff will be needed, demob is in the air and so we all return to Zaventum for dispersal. Old friends and colleagues are disappearing in all directions; 139 Wing is downsizing fast
And soon I find myself alone walking into Polebrook, a silent airbase near Norman Cross on the Great North Road, and as I go into the Airmen’s Mess for the first time, American 8th Air Force notices, signs, and insignia are everywhere. I go up to the Servery. On either side are large grey boards bearing, in proud white lettering, dates and places of bombing targets of long departed Flying Fortresses. What catches my eye is of course, the lettering “Achmer” and again “Achmer” amongst the dozens of other target names.
So now I know from where those American precision bombers of Achmer had flown. What could we British and Dutch in 139 Wing have done without them? They had provided us with those superb B25s and then took the trouble to get the Luftwaffe out of Achmer for us. This is the reason why I am still pretty pro-American, and why I have made a friend and twice visited a certain Bob Maker in Idaho, who as a captain in the US Army Air Corps, navigated and piloted B25s and other aircraft in the Pacific. But that is another story”…..
Note: –
139 Wing comprised RAF 98 and 180 Squadrons, and Royal Dutch Navy 320 Squadron. It was part of 2nd Tactical Airforce (RAF), tasked with supporting Allied troops prior to, and after 6th June 1944

Originally published: ‘WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at’


Top Gear

The real history of the Top Gear Track

  • 1938

The BBC Top Gear track has been laid out on the main runway of the former WWII RAF and RCAF air base.   The perimeter roads used for Gambon and the finish line were laid over the route of original B-Roads that were ripped up when the airfield was constructed in 1941.  One cottage, Broadmead, was situated where the TopGear FollowThrough is now, but the cottage was lifted whole and winched half a mile on rollers to the otherside of the airfield.

Broadmead cottage original location in 1942 now at FollowThrough of Top Gear track

Continue reading “Top Gear”

Spitfire Bridge

The Spitfire Bridge carried the A31 (now B3404) Alresford Road over the A33 Winchester Bypass in Hampshire. It was constructed in the immediate prewar period, and opened in 1940 with the rest of the bypass. It was a concrete parabolic arch bridge.

19 October 1941: P/O George Rogers of 400 Squadron, in a Curtiss Tomahawk flew beneath the bridge, but had to take evasive action after meeting an oncoming HGV. The pilot clipped the bridge and lost 3ft of his plane to it, causing him to later crash at Odiham while landing. He walked away with only minor injuries.

The “Spitfire” Tomahawk in 400 Sqn. colours. Image from

Spitfire (Tomahawk) Bridge to the East of Winchester in 1940

The story soon spread through the local area, but it wasn’t clear what plane it was. It was generally assumed that only a Spitfire would attempt to do such a thing, so the name ‘Spitfire Bridge’ stuck.

In 1983 the bridge was demolished as part of the upgrading of the Winchester Bypass to M3, being replaced by a single-span concrete bridge. The cutting it crossed was widened to house the motorway and parallel A272, which was named ‘Spitfire Link’ in its honour, and the nearby A31 junction is known as ‘Spitfire Roundabout’.

Spitfire Bridge replacement in 2016


Records of aircraft crashes at Dunsfold in 1943-45

Canadian aircraft crashes at Dunsfold Aerodrome

In 1943, Tom Gold, Hermann Bondi and Fred Hoyle were living in a cottage on the edge of Dunsfold Aerodrome. Later, Tom Gold wrote:

“As the preparations for the invasion of France were proceeding, the French Channel coast was of course under almost constant bombardment by our airplanes. One such striking force was a Canadian contingent who flew these bombing missions early every morning, mostly with chemically timed bombs that could not be disarmed in any way. An acid inside was just going to eat its way through a diaphragm and when it did, the bomb would explode. Nothing you could do from the outside would stop it; the most sophisticated bomb disposal squad could do nothing with it, even if it knew all the details of its design.

The trouble for us was that this Canadian contingent was operating from an airfield adjacent to the house in which Bondi and I, and Hoyle some of the time, were living. In fact, it was our house that was the first object the heavily laden planes had to clear on take off. When we had rented the house, we did not know of this particular drawback, but now we were stuck with it. After a while of being awakened by twenty planes in succession just clearing the rooftop at 4:30 a.m., we got quite used to this, and could sleep through it.

But then one morning I woke up in a state of shock – there had evidently been a very nearby and very violent explosion. I must have been sleeping with my mouth wide open, for a large chunk of the plaster from the ceiling had fallen into it. As I was spitting it out, my bedroom door opened, and Fred Hoyle, who was staying there at the time, stuck his head in and said ‘Did you hear that!’ I said, ‘what do you mean, did I hear that? The house nearly collapsed!’ He said, ‘I know, but I heard, about twenty minutes ago, all the planes taking off except for one, where I heard the take off noise just suddenly stop, and then nothing more. So,’ he said, ‘I went back to sleep, and then came this noise, which of course, woke me up.’ I said to him, ‘How can you be so stupid, to go back to sleep, when clearly what must have happened was that the plane failed to take off, caught fire, and its bombs exploded?’ He said, ‘Well, of course, I know that now, but I couldn’t have done anything about it anyway’.

We later learned, of course, that this is exactly what happened. The crew had been able to save themselves, but the burning wreck eventually exploded its bomb load. It was only a hundred yards from our house.”

Burbidge (2003: pp218-219)

Records of aircraft crashing at Dunsfold in 1943- 45

Below is a list of aircraft crashes on the Aerodrome. More planes crashed in the vicinity.
18 January 1943: A Curtiss Tomahawk Iib of 430 Squadron RCAF blew a tyre on take-off and crashed. 109

21 January 1943: A Curtiss Tomahawk Iia of 430 Squadron RCAF crashed after forced landing due to mid-air engine failure.110

14 February 1943: A North American Mustang 1 of 430 Squadron RCAF aircraft flew too low and hit trees, crashing 111

28 February 1943: A Curtiss Tomahawk Iia of 430 Squadron RCAF aircraft force landed after engine failure and crashed. 112

19th March 1943 – damaged aircraft

23rd December 1943 – aircraft crash near Dunsfold


21 February 1944: A Handley Page Halifax III of 78 Squadron RAF crashed on landing at Dunsfold. 113

24th March 1944 – Lancaster crash landed

5th May 1944 aircraft crashed at Old Rickhurst

21 May 1944: an Avro Lancaster III of 156 Squadron RAF crash landed and caught fire after damage over Duisberg.114

12 July 1944: a North American Mitchell II of 98 Squadron RAF crashed on take off. 115 13 July 1944: An aircraft of 613 Squadron RAF crashed.116

13th July 1944 – aircraft crashed 613 Squadron

 8 September 1944: A North American Mitchell II of 98 Squadron RAF carrying bombs and exploded on touchdown, killing all the crew and badly damaging the runway. 117

14th September 1944 – Mitchell 180 Squadron crashed


9th February 1945 – Hawker Typhoon crashed pilot killed

17th April 1945 – Hawker Typhoon broke in half

19th April 1945 – Hawker Tempest crashed

14th June 1945 – Hawker Typhoon dived vertically into the ground on the bank of the Wey & Arun Canal

Source: Surrey County Council Monument Full Report ref, SHER 350/16 Dunsfold HER Monuments (5 December 2016).

109 SMR No 17145 – MSE17145; McCue, 1991: p39 (Includes photo). 110 SMR No 17148 – MSE17148; McCue, 1991: p39.
111 SMR No 17151 – MSE17151; McCue, 1991: p44
112 SMR No 17153 – MSE17153; McCue, 1991: p45
113 SMR No 17191 – MSE17191.
114 SMR No 17202 – MSE17202.
115 SMR No 17208 – MSE17208.
116 SMR No 17209 – MSE17209.
117 SMR No 17215 – MSE17215, Ashworth, 1985: p83; McCue, 1991: p161-163.


Hawker 1950-1974

Hawker Aircraft Ltd took over the lease of Dunsfold Aerodrome in 1950 (41). Hawker Aircraft Ltd went through many new names over the next half century, and as BAe Systems ceased activity at the aerodrome in 2000. The Aerodrome was sold to the Rutland Group in 2002. (42)

By the early 1950s, Hawker’s were developing jets for which the short, grass landing strips then available to them, were not sufficient. They needed long, hard-surfaced runways, which was what Dunsfold could provide. (43)

On taking over the Aerodrome, Hawker Aircraft Ltd “built up a final assembly and experimental test facility in the two T-2 hangars as a basis for expansion (44). Dunsfold is associated with several types of aircraft including Hunters and Hawks, but the Aerodrome is best associated with the Harrier. We now look at each of these in turn.

The Hunter

The Hunter could be regarded as the beginning of Dunsfold Aerodrome’s role at the cutting edge of military jet aircraft development. Hunters were early jet fighter aircraft: the first flew in 1951. (45)

In 1953, Dunsfold was the base for important speed tests. In January of that year the speed of sound was achieved and on 7 September a Hunter, piloted by Squadron Leader Neville Duke, broke the world air speed record off Littlehampton achieving 727.6 m.p.h. Later the same month, the 100km world record — 709.2 m.p.h — was established from Dunsfold by Duke. (46) The plane is on display at Tangmere Military Aviation Museum. (47)

The record-breaking Hunter .

As a result, complaints about the noise started; test pilot Neville Duke reported “At Dunsfold we hear tales of people being flung off bicycles by the bangs—but I don’t believe them”. (49)     By 1954, the noise issue had become serious. A local farmer, Col. du Boulay, issued a writ, but was persuaded to withdraw it by assurance that the nuisance would be abated by technical means. However, the Ministry of Civil Aviation immediately took action to prevent any future writs so as to protect the production of military aircraft. (50)

Hunters were put into service by the RAF in 1954 and were used until the 1990s. They were employed in the 1956 Suez Crisis and numerous other conflicts. (51) As well as being used by the RAF and the Royal Navy, they saw service in Abu Dhabi, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Netherlands, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Rhodesia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sweden and Switzerland. (52) In fact they were in military use somewhere in the world until 2014. (53)

The Hunter continued in production, or refurbishment, until 1980 by which time almost 2,000 had been produced. It is reported that “the Hunter cost £100,000 in 1956, which is not far off £450,000 in 1974 money” (54) ; and about £16,000,000 when estimated at 2011 prices. (55) That clearly represents a great deal of money!

The Harrier: the “Jump Jet”

“Jump jets” are, technically speaking, vertical (or short) take-off and landing (VTOL or V/STOL) aircraft that can also be used on short runways. They can operate from clearings in forests and small aircraft carriers. The Harrier is unique in that it is the only aircraft using vectored thrust so that it can take off, fly and land either vertically or conventionally. BAe proudly says “The Harrier was the only true STOL (short take-off and landing) aircraft in the world.” (56)

The Kestrel flying from Dunsfold


In October 1960, the Hawker Siddeley Group’s P.1127, “the world’s first operational vertical take-off strike aircraft, made its first tethered flight at Dunsfold Aerodrome” which led to the Daily Express running the front-page headline “The Jumping Jet” (57). The plane is now on display at the Science Museum in London. (58)

The first P.1127 in “free hovering flight” at Dunsfold Aerodrome (59)
The P.1127 evolved into the Kestrel and then the Harrier. (60)  In 1967, Flight International announced “HARRIER World’s first fixed-wing V/STOL weapons system”, with a nine-page article describing its history and novelty. (61)  By 1969, the RAF was using Harriers. (62) The potential for use at sea was recognised from the start with the Hawker Siddeley P.1127 landing on HMS Ark Royal in 1963. (63) However, it was not until 1978 that the prototype “Navalised-Harrier” took to the air over Dunsfold. The first Sea Harrier joined the Royal Navy in 1980. (64)

May 1969 Trans-Atlantic Air Race 


Military impact

The Falklands War started on 2 April 1982 when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory some 300 miles off its east coast and some 8,000 miles from the UK. The British Government dispatched a Task Force on 5 April. The resulting conflict ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, returning the islands to British control.

Dunsfold Aerodrome immediately went on to a war-footing. The three Harriers based at Dunsfold for trails were commandeered and one was to be seen on HMS Hermes ski-jump as it sailed from Portsmouth. (65)  Dunsfold went on to double-shift working to modify Harriers and Sea Harriers for air combat and ground attack roles in the South Atlantic and played a crucial role in ensuring that the Royal Navy was in a position to send a second Sea Harrier- equipped carrier to the Falklands, though the conflict ended before this was necessary. (66)  Dunsfold test pilot Taylor Scott volunteered to return to the Royal Navy to help form and train an additional Sea Harrier squadron, 809. (67) It is reported that 42 Harriers and Sea Harriers were deployed. (68)  BAe comments “The usage in the Falklands was probably the most high profile and important success recorded” as “it was the only fixed-wing fighter available to protect the British Task Force.”(69) Sea Harriers shot down at least 28 Argentinian aircraft, without loss in air-to-air combat (although there were losses on the ground). The Harrier was vital in winning this conflict.(70)  When reporter Brian Hanrahan worked around the reporting restrictions by saying, “I counted them all out, and I counted them all back”, he was counting Harriers. (71) As a result of this success, the British Government immediately ordered more Sea Harriers.(72)

Harriers were also important in the 1990-91 Gulf War and in NATO’s action in Kosovo in 1999 and elsewhere.(73)

Economic impact

 The Harrier – technically the AV-8A – made export history when 112 were sold to the US Marine Corps (USMC) in 1971. (This was the first time the US had bought a foreign built military aircraft since the First World War.) They had to be freighted to the US, which meant that large cargo carriers had to land at Dunsfold. (74)


The Harrier II, a follow-on to the AV-8A, was designed by McDonnell-Douglas in St Louis USA with Hawker Siddeley Aviation/BAe, and was built on a roughly 50-50 work share basis by the two companies. Dunsfold built the centre and rear fuselages and reaction control systems for all the aircraft delivered, and McDonald-Douglas built all the wings and front fuselages. These items were shipped across the Atlantic for final assembly as the RAF Harrier GR5/7 at Dunsfold and as the AV-8B for the USMC at St Louis. (75)

Manufacturing of the Sea Harrier ceased in 1998 with the last aircraft retiring from the Royal Navy in 2006 and from the RAF in 2011 (76).The Sea Harrier was in service with the Indian Navy until 2016 and the AV-8B remains in service in the USMC; and in the Spanish and Italian navies in 2017 (77).


It is claimed that 278 Hawker Siddeley Harriers (78) were produced, plus 111 Sea Harriers79, 347 AV-8As80, and 143 Harrier IIs (81). That comes to 879. Costs are difficult to come by but it is suggested it could be of the order of $24-30 million (£19,000,000 – 24,000,000) each. (82)


In 1985, Ashworth reported that, “Starting with the P.1127’s first tentative hover on October 21 1960 up to the current Sea Harrier, all British development, assembly and testing of this family of vertical take-off aircraft has been at Dunsfold”. (83) However, the technical legacy of the Harrier lives on today in the F-35 Lightning II STOVL variant. (84) Delve wrote: “This fantastic British aircraft is enough for Dunsfold to have a place in aviation history”. (85)

The Hawk

 The Hawk started life as the HS 1182, “intended to replace the Gnat, Jet Provost and Hunter as the RAF’s jet trainer”. It is also used as a low-cost combat aircraft. In 1971, the cost was put at £450,000 each.86

In 1972, the RAF “ordered 176 to be assembled and test flown from Dunsfold”. 87 The first Hawk flew from Dunsfold Aerodrome in 1974, piloted by Duncan Simpson.88

Hawk 200 in Engine Running Pen (1980s) (courtesy Brooklands Museum archive)

An important derivative of the Hawk was the T-45 Goshawk, produced jointly with McDonald Douglas, starting in 1981. The T-45 Goshawk was designed by BAe and McDonald Douglas in California. British designed components were shipped across the Atlantic for final assembly for the US Navy. When production ceased in 2009, 221 had been delivered. It is still in use as a carrier-capable advanced trainer. (89)

Most famously, these are the planes used by the Red Arrows. From their inauguration in 1964, the Red Arrows had flown Gnats.90 But the last Gnat to go to the RAF was delivered from Dunsfold in 1965. In the winter of 1979/80, the Red Arrows graduated to Hawks. (91)

Some 1,000 Hawks have been produced and they have been delivered to 18 countries. 93 They are still in production. (94) It is reported that they cost £18,000,000 each in 2003. (95)

39 See 40 McCue, 1991: p213.
41 Ashworth, 1985: p85.
42 Dunsfold Park, 2017.
43 McCue, 1991: pp 213. 44 Ashworth, 1985: p85.
45 BAe, 2017a.
46 Flight, 1953b; Daily Telegraph, 2007.
47 See 48 Flight, 1953b.
49 Flight, 1952.
50 Flight, 1954.
51 BAe, 2017a and 52 McCue, 1991: p254-255.
53 BAe, 2017a.
54 Flight International, 1971a. 55 Fighter Aircraft, 2017a.
56 BAe, 2017b.
57 Flight, 1960b.
58 See 59 BAe, 2017b.
60 BAe, 2017b.
61 Flight International, 1967.
62 BAe, 2017b.
63 McCue, 1991: p 238: BAe, 2017b.
64 BAe, 2017.
65 McCue, 1991: p260; Lawson, 2002.
66 Lawson, 2002.
67 McCue, 1991: p261: Flight International, 1987.
68 (2017)
69 BAe, 2017b.
70 BBC, 2010.
71 Guardian, 2010.
72 McCue, 1991: p260-261: and [Accessed 25 January 2017]
73 (2017)
74 Flight International, 1971b, McCue, 1991: p245. 75 Private communication and McCue, 1991: p245. 76 BAe, 2017b.
77 Private communication.
78 [Accessed 25 January 2017]
79 [Accessed 25 January 2017]
80 [Accessed 25 January 2017] 81 [Accessed 25 January 2017]
82 Fighter Aircraft, 2017b.
83 Ashworth, 1985: p85.
84 BAe, 2017c.
85 Delve, 2005: p81.
86 Flight International, 1971a.
87 McCue, 1991: p248.
88 Flight International, 1974; McCue, 1991: p248.
89 Boeing, 2017.: McCue, 1991: p259: private correspondence.
90 BAe, 2017e.
91 McCue, 1991: p258.
93 BAe, 2017d.
94 BAe, 2017d.
95 [Accessed 25 January 2017]

RAF 1943-1944

August 1943 – October 1944: Royal Air Force

During this period, Dunsfold Aerodrome was HQ for the Medium Bomber No 139 Wing, RAF, comprising 98, 180, 320 (Netherlands) Squadrons, part of the Second Tactical Airforce.

No. 98 Squadron RAF

Dunsfold, Surrey  between 18 Aug 43  –  26 Mar 44
Dunsfold, Surrey between  10 Apr 44 –  16 Oct 44

Commanding Officers No. 98 Squadron:

Wg Cdr A. M. Phillips             18 Aug 43
Wg Cdr R. K. F. Bell-Irving    9 Apr 44
Wg Cdr J. G. C. Paul, DFC    15 May 44
Wg Cdr L. G. Hamer 16 Sep 44

Squadrons 98 and 180 arrived in August 1943, and 320 arrived six months later. All three squadrons flew Mitchell bombers; “They took part in a large number of bombing missions over Europe, attacking a wide variety of targets and establishing a reputation for highly accurate attacks”. (12) They were at the forefront of the Allied offensive against the V-1 sites in northern France, and. 13 (The V-1s – also called “buzz bombs” or “doodlebugs” – were flying bombs, and could be described as early guided or cruise missiles, and were aimed from the continent towards London. (14)

No. 320 (Netherlands) Squadron RAF

In 1940 no. 320 (Netherlands) Squadron RAF was formed by members of the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service, who had flown from the Netherlands when it was invaded. On 12 June 1944 Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands visited Dunsfold to award medals  (15). In all, 320 Squadron were awarded the Dutch Military Order of William four times and the Dutch Airman’s Cross, 176 times. (16)

ROYAL AIR FORCE: FIGHTER COMMAND, TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943. (CH 11040) North American Mitchell Mark IIs (FL707 ‘EV-Z’ nearest) of No. 180 Squadron RAF, taxiing along the perimeter track at Dunsford, Surrey, for take off on a cross-Channel bombing sortie in support of Operation STARKEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945. (CH 13734) Ground personnel of No. 98 Squadron RAF, who serviced North American Mitchell Mark III, HD372 ‘VO-B’ Grumpy, during its record operational career, gather at the aircraft’s nose at Dunsfold, Surrey, as Corporal V Feast paints the 102nd bomb symbol onto its tally of operations. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

AMERICAN AIRCRAFT IN RAF SERVICE 1939-1945: NORTH AMERICAN NA-82 MITCHELL. (CH 20592) Mitchell Mark II, FV985 ?VO-S?, of No. 98 Squadron RAF based at Dunsfold, Surrey, approaches the English Channel south of Etaples while returning from a ‘Noball’ operation over northern France. Note the deployed ventral turret. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945. (CH 12862) North American Mitchell Mark IIs of No. 98 Squadron RAF taxying along the perimeter track at Dunsfold, Surrey, for a morning raid on targets in northern France. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945. (CH 11991) North American Mitchell Mark II, FV929 ‘VO-D’, of No. 98 Squadron RAF landing at Dunsfold, Surrey, after a daylight raid over northern France. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

19 July 1944: Informal group portrait of RAF ground staff with RAAF and Royal New Zealand Air Force air crew of a Mitchell bomber squadron, 180 Squadron RAF with the Second Tactical Air Force. Left to right: two RAF ground crew, Jock (Fitter) and Alf (Rigger); 422248 Flying Officer (FO) Jack B O’Halloran, pilot of Sydney, NSW, (later Flight Lieutenant and DFC); 417379 Pilot Officer James Crosby (Jim) Jennison (later Flying Officer and DFC) of Adelaide, SA; 422175 FO Reg J Hansen of Sydney, NSW; FO Harry M Hawthorn, RNZAF of Hastings, NZ. Named ‘Daily Delivery’


The RAF 320 (Dutch) Squadron October 1943 – flying Mitchells from the UK

General Eisenhower addressing Airmen of 320 Squadron prior to D-Day in 1943 in the T2 Hangar at Dunsfold

Shortly before D-Day, on 18 April 1944, General Eisenhower, then Allied Supreme Commander, visited Dunsfold, presumably to give a pre-D-Day morale talk. (17)   The D-Day orders for Dunsfold were issued on 3 June: “to cause maximum delay to the movement by road and rail, by enemy forces at night”. 18The action started early in the morning of 6 June when all three Squadrons were in action to support the D-Day landing.

ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945. (CH 13809) Squadron Leader K Eager (centre), an experienced flight commander of No. 98 Squadron RAF, discusses a model of a flying bomb launch site with two newcomers to the unit at Dunsfold, Surrey; Squadron Leader R Wood (left) and a Canadian pilot, Pilot Officer Freeman (right). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

News correspondents had been frequent visitors to Dunsfold in the build up to D-Day and Ronald Walker from the News Chronicle flew in one of the Mitchell bombers from Dunsfold, his report appearing in the newspaper the next day. He wrote:

“The crews of three Mitchell bomber squadrons of this station who were sent on bombing missions to France in the early hours of this morning did not know that they were taking part in the invasion of Europe.” (19)

The next night, 60 Mitchell bombers were dispatched against the enemy. (20)

Following D-Day, in September 1944, all three squadrons of Dunsfold bombers were also involved in the unsuccessful Operation Market Garden, best known for the bitter battle for the bridge at Arnhem. 139 Wing lost several aircraft to enemy flak and fighters in these operations. (21)

By the end of the war “at least 1/3 of all crew lost their lives, and 40% of all Mitchells were lost” (22). During the six months 320 Squadron was at Dunsfold, it is reported that 156 members died and 57 were lost. (23) The casualty rate amongst airmen was generally very high: “Half of all aircrew were lost before they had even completed ten missions”. (24) Not all losses were due to enemy action and there were many accidents).
Link to record of crashes.

The three squadrons — 98, 180 and 320 — departed for the continent in October 1944 (25)

There are two plaques in Dunsfold commemorating the presence:

For 98 Squadron: on Rose Cottage (now Canada House):

  • “From its wartime headquarters in this cottage in 1944. No.98 Squadron, RAF was launched the invasion of Europe led by Wg Cdr G J C Paul”.

For 320 Squadron: a plaque in Dunsfold church along with its colours. (26)


Operation Exodus

Operation Exodus was the repatriation of British Prisoners of War (POWs) from the continent. Dunsfold Aerodrome was designated an “Air Arrival Centre” where No. 2 Hangar was decorated with flowers to welcome the troops home and a medical inspection tent was set up. Between the 15 April 1945 and 25 June 1945, 47,529 ex POWs passed through Dunsfold Aerodrome. This accounted for 85% of the POWs repatriated by the RAF. On one day alone – 9 May – 160 aircraft delivered 3,953 personnel: just 24 per aircraft, in accordance with Bomber Commands’ Operation instructions. But the daily count was often over 100 flights. As can easily be imagined, there were emotional scenes, with men falling to their knees to kiss the ground.(27)


10 Delve, 1985: p81; McCue, 1991: p289. But the details given differ. 11 McCue, 1991: pp33-62.
12 Delve, 1985: p79.
13 McCue, 1991: p73.
15 Manschot, 2016: p27.; McCue, 1991: pp128-129.
16 Wings & Wheels, 2016. For a film of Squadron 320 at Dunsfold in 1944, see Imperial war Museum: [Accessed 31 January 2017].
17 Wings & Wheels, 2016; Delve, 2005: p79.; McCue, 10992: p107. There is film of his visit in the Imperial War Museum: .
18 McCue, 1991: p117.
19 McCue, 1991: p121-125.
20 Ashworth, 1985: p83. McCue, 1991: pp125-126. For other details of action from Dunsfold, see Jacobs, 2009: pp195-198.
21 Jacobs, 2009: p198. McCue, 1991: pp160-169.
22 Manschot, 2016: p27.
23 Wings & Wheels, 2016. 24 BBC, 2011.
25 Delve, 2005, p79.
26 Delve, 2005: p81.
27 Clutton-Brock, 2003: pp 149-150; McCue, 1991: pp 190-194; Ashworth, 1985: p83.