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RAF STRADISHALL WAR MEMORIAL

World War 2 - Roll of Honour with detailed information
Compiled and copyright © Russell Edwards 2006
Photographs
copyright © Russell Edwards 2006

RAF Stradishall was created when the site was selected for the expansion scheme bomber airfield. Sited at Stradishall it was located mainly in the parish of Hundon, south of the A143 road, some 11 miles from Bury St Edmunds. It lay on Suffolk clay which, although excellent for heavy crops of wheat, was not suitbale for heavy aeroplanes. Despite the extensive under draining carried out during construction the glue-like mud that appeared after heavy rain quickly led to RAF Stradishall becoming the first airfield in Bomber Command scheduled for hardened runways.

Five Type C hangars, administrative, technical and barrack buildings were built between the bombing circle and the A143 during 1937-38 and Stradishall officially opened on February 3 1938, although still far from complete. Sir Lindsay Parkinson & Co. Ltd carried out the £500,000 contract. Nos. 9 and 148 Squadrons moved in from Scampton the following month where the latter had recently formed from a flight of the former. No. 9 had Heyfords and No. 148 Wellesleys, although it received Heyfords when all Wellesleys were withdrawn and sent to the Middle East and East Africa. There was not long to wait for Wellingtons with which Bomber Command intended to reequip all No. 3 Group squadrons, both units receiving this modern type in February and March 1939. In July No. 9 moved to Honington, changing places with the No. 3 Group pool squadron, No. 75, but a few days after the outbreak of war Stradishall's Wellingtons were sent to Harwell while the airfield was closed for laying the runways.

The runways were 04-22, 07-25 and 14-32, all approximately 1,000 yards long. A total of 24, later increased to 36, hardstandings were placed round the encircling perimeter track, except on the north side. While this work was in hand, two Blenheim fighter squadrons were formed utilising the accommodation and a small area of the airfield. The station re-opened in January 1940 when No. 214 Squadron's Wellingtons moved in from stark Methwold. The Luftwaffe visited Stradishall on a number of occasions, the first being on August 21, 1940, but the most damaging attack occurred on November 3 that year when a hangar was hit.

No. 214 Squadron converted to Stirlings in the spring of 1941, Stradishall remaining its home for the next 2;/a years. No other operational squadrons were based at Stradishall until November 1941 when No. 138, the special duties unit, arrived from Newmarket to continue flights in support of resistance activities in occupied Europe. When this squadron moved to Tempsford in March 1942, its place was taken by another special duties unit, No. 109 Squadron, employing Wellingtons, and later a few Mosquitos, for radio and wireless detection in enemy airspace and also testing new radar aids.

In August, No. 109 moved to Wyton to join the Pathfinder Force. No. 3 Group had to surrender a number of its stations west of Cambridge to the new force and No. 101 Squadron brought it Wellingtons from Bourn to Stradishall soon after No. 109 had left. However, No. 101 spent only seven weeks at Stradishall before it was moved between groups for the second time, heading north to No. 1 Group in south Yorkshire.

The runways were extended during 1941, 07-25 at the 25 end to 2,000 yards, 14-32 at the 32 end to 1,400 and 04-22 at the 04 end to 1,500 yards. The original hard runways and perimeter track lay within the two public roads running from the A143 to Scotch Corner, but the extensions caused these to be closed. Several pan hardstandings were lost during the restructuring leaving 26 intact. To make up the numbers, 13 loops were added. Three additional hangars were provided for gliders, all T2s, one placed near the end of runway 04 on the 07 side. The other two were in the south-east corner, east of 32. Bomb stores were constructed on farmland to the west of the airfield. Total station accommodation at that time, including a few dispersed sites, was for 2,773 males and 335 females. Stradishall then became No. 3 Group's operational training centre with the formation of No. 1657 Conversion Unit at the beginning of October 1942 to use the formidable Stirling. In 1943 both Stradishall's satellite airfields, Chedburgh and Wratting Common, also carried out Stirling conversion training. The demise of the type as a bomber was followed by a period in which Stradishall finished training crews for transport squadrons. No. 3 Group Lancasters did not reach Stradishall until December 1944 when the recently reformed No. 186 Squadron was moved in from Tuddenham, remaining until disbanded the following July. During hostilities 104 aircraft were lost flying operations from Stradishall. This total was composed of 67 Wellingtons, 25 Stirlings, nine Lancasters, two Whitleys, a Halifax and a Lysander.

Stradishall passed to Transport Command in August 1945 and once again Stirlings were in residence; these being the Stirling V transports of Nos. 51 and 158 Squadrons. The latter disbanded early in 1946 when transport requirements were reduced and No. 51 moved out in August, No. 3 Group reclaiming the station for Lancasters. Nos. 35 and 115 Squadrons were the new tenants being joined late the following year by Nos. 149 and 207. All were in a diminished state and the number of Lancasters at Stradishall gradually reduced until February 1949 when all four units were transferred to Mildenhall.

From February to July 1949, the station was on care and maintenance thereafter being used for flying training, mainly conversion courses on Meteor jets. The organisation was first designated as No. 203 Advanced Flying School and later as No. 226 Operational Conversion Unit when roles were exchanged with Driffield units. New hardstandings were built by Mowlem in 1954 and blast walls for jets the following year. In 1955 the training units were withdrawn and Stradishall became a night fighter station with Meteors and Venoms. In October 1957 Javelins appeared and in 1960 Hunters. At the end of 1961 the station again reverted to a training establishment as No. 1 Air Navigation School, which used a variety of aircraft but chiefly Dominies and Varsities for much of the time.

In August 1970, with a further contraction of the RAF, the training organisation was moved to Finningley and once again Stradishall was relegated to care and maintenance status. The accommodation was used to house displaced African nationals in the early 1970s following which the station was selected as the site of a high security jail. Renamed Highpoint Prison, the former administration and technical area surrounded by security fencing opened in July 1977.

1938
 
1970

TO COMMEMORATE THIRTY-TWO YEARS OF SERVICE
GIVEN IN THE CAuSE OF FREEDOM BY THE MEN
AND WOMEN WHO WERE STATIONED AT

ROYAL AIR FORCE STRADISHALL

AND HONOURING THE SACRIFICES THAT WERE MADE

"Who knows what Freedom is, except those
who have had it taken from them"

UNVEILED BY MARSHAL OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE
SIR MICHAEL BEETHAM G.C.B C.B.E. D.F.C. A.F.C. FRAeS.
29th MAY 1994

ROYAL AIR FORCE STRADISHALL
1938
 
1970

BOMBER COMMAND

NO. 3 GROUP
1938-1945 1946-1949

TRANSPORT COMMAND

Nos 47 and 48 GROUPS (No 38 GROUP)
1045-1946               1961

ROYAL AIR FORCE
Squadrons / Units

9 148 75 150 75(NZ) 254 236 214 ferry-Flt (1)-419-Flt 138 109 101 1621-BAT-Flt 1657-HCU 186 158 51 35 115 149 207 203-AFS 226-OCU 229-OCU 253 125 245 89 152 263 85 1 54 208 111 56 1-ANS Royal Air Force Regiment

 

ATTACHED

Royal Artillery
Royal Engineers
Royal Signals
Cambridgeshire Regiment
Leicestershire Regiment
Suffolk Regiment
4CAACU


FIGHTER COMMAND

Nos 11 12 and 81 GROUPS
1949-1961

FLYING TRAINING COMMAND

Nos 25 and 23 GROUPS
1961-1970

STRADISHALL GRAVES

Additional information has been taken from "Royal Air Force Stradishall 1938-1970" by Spencer Adams and Jock Whiteham published by Square One Publications in 1995(?) ISBN 1 872017 94 0. this publication contains a Roll of Honour listing names of airmen killed who were based at Stradishall. information has so far only been taken from the pre-war pre-hostilities section. Also from "Aeronautical Memorials of Suffolk" typed pamphlet, by Huby Fairhead. Copies of both publications exist at present (May 2006) in the reference section of Sudbury Library.

Pre World War 2

BARTON

Ivor Russell

Pilot Officer, RAF Flying accident 21/7/1939, age 26: see YP Wilson below.

IRWIN

James Crane

Sgt 597977 Flying accident 18/10/1939, age 32. Irwin was the Wireless Operator aboard one of two 148 Squadron Wellesleys that crashed head on over Dunmow in Essex. Irwin was in K7716 flown by Sergeants Prosser and Cuningham; The other Wellesley (K7714) was flown by Pilot Officer Wheelright and Sgt Walker with AC2 Boyd as wireless operator

JACKSON

Aubrey Ward

RAF born 24/6/1918. Killed at Stradishall, 14/11/1938 This memorial is a traditional square with a foot plate in stone giving the above details. Jackson was the son of Harold and Mary Jackson of Minster–in-Thanet

SMITH

Harry Augustus

Wing Commander, Flying accident 14/11/1938, age 44 - W/Cdr Smith was killed with Aubrey Ward Jackson when their Heyford aircraft undershot the runway at Stradishall. The aircraft burst into flames when it crashed. Smith commanded 9 Squadron; Jackson was a Pilot officer in the same squadron

WHITEHEAD

Margaret

Wife of Corporal Whitehead RAF 15/11/1938

WILSON

York Plant

Flying Officer, RAF Flying accident 21/7/1939, age 25. Flying Officer Wilson was a Canadian officer, a member of 148 Squadron. He was killed PO Barton, another canadian, and their Wireless Operator when their Wellington L4290 crashed. Barton and Wilson were buried at St Margarets Stradishall.

1939 - 1945

WILLIAMS

Wycliff Stuart

Pilot Officer (Pilot) 42173, 266 Squadron, Royal Air Force (RNZAF). Killed 21/10/1940 aged 20. Williams was a member of 266 squadron who was killed when his Spitfire X4265 crashed on take off. Son of Stuart Forbes Williams and Lilian Ernestine Williams, of Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa. Of New Zealand. Buried in St Margaret Churchyard, Stradishall.

HUNT

George William

Sergeant 39922 (Pilot), 214 Reserve Flight, Royal New Zealand Air Force. Died 11/10/1940 aged 22. Son of the Revd. George William Hunt and Roberta Hunt, of Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand. Buried in St Margaret Churchyard, Stradishall.

POWERS

Kenneth Sidney

Sergeant 742000 (Pilot), 106 Sqadron, Royal Air Force. Died 6/10/1940 aged 20. Killed by "friendly fire" when the crew of Handley Page Hampden L4100 was shot up 6 miles NW of Stradishall. The crew had fired the wrong recognition signal in daylight and the aircraft was attacked by 2 Spitfires. Son of Capt. Sidney Jesse Powers and Mabel Rose Powers, of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Buried in St Margaret Churchyard, Stradishall.

NICHOLSON

John Freeman

Flying Officer (PIlot) 70501, 214 Squadron, Royal Air Force. Died 6/6/40 aged 22. Inscription at bottom of headstone reads “Per Castra Ad Astra”: joke or misprint? Son of John Freeman Nicholson and Georgina Hay Nicholson, of Stanwix, Carlisle; husband of Esther Nicholson. Buried in St Margaret Churchyard, Stradishall.

FRIEND

Jack Ernest Anthony

Pilot Officer (Pilot) 40818, 61 Squadron, Royal Air Force. Died 1/5/1940. Buried in St Margaret Churchyard, Stradishall.

Post 1945

WATSON

Douglas Charles

Inscription reads “5 Group Bomber Command” 1942-1944, then gives dates of 1925-2001

YOUNG

J A W

Sgt BO516547 11/7/65, Aged 51

RAYNER

J L

Senior Aircraftsman 4250160 20/12/1961, Age 22

Last updated 1 October, 2006

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