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RAF Bovingdon - 1960s

Old 2nd Dec 2022, 09:14
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As I mentioned earlier in this thread 14-years-ago! Post #3

I was posted to the Fighter Command Communications Sqn at Bovingdon in April 1956, but only spent a couple of months there before being posted to FEAF at Changi.In 1956 RAF Bovingdon was a busy station. In 1956 it housed both the Fighter Command and Coastal Command Communications Squadrons equipped with Avro Ansons and DH Devons. Servicing was carried out by civilian contractors with only a few RAF ground staff.

In addition the USAF 7531st Air Base Squadron had a detachment based here to service the frequent flights with personnel and freight to the USAF HQ 3rd AF in Ruislip from various USAF bases in Europe. USAF C47s and C123's were regular daily visitors. Also attached was a communications detachment from HQ 3rd AF in Ruislip to provide long-range ATC communications for the USAF.

The USAF departed in 1962 and the RAF left the airfield in January 1969. What used to be the airfield is now occupied by The Mount Prison.

Whilst I was there many of the pilots posted to desk jobs at the Fighter and Coastal Command HQs (RAF Stanmore and Northwood respectively) kept up their flying hours by flying the Avro Ansons based at Bovingdon.
The rather smart DH Devons on strength were used as VIP transports to the flying stations in their commands by the C in Cs, AOCs etc of Fighter and Coastal Command and were not available for casual hours building flights.












And here's a view of nearby Berkhamsted in 1956. The LMS main line to Birmingham and the north can just be seen as it passes through a cutting and tunnel in the centre top. Also visible is the Grand Union Canal which runs part of its course alongside the railway.
I took this photo for my then girlfriend who lived in one of the large houses at the bottom of the photo.
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Old 2nd Dec 2022, 09:23
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The AOC of Coastal Command had a VIP Valetta, there were no Devons in the CC com. and I remember only one in the FCCS.
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Old 2nd Dec 2022, 09:41
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First 2 pictures above (#481) showed the view along runway 09/27 looking west which just happened to point almost directly at my second place of residence in Chesham.
I saw that view several times when we first did gliding at Bovingdon on detachment from Halton in the period 1965 to 1967 although we didn't go that far downwind; cadet flying regs required us to turn base and final on the airfield boundary and not go behind the downwind boundary.
At extreme right is the straight bit of taxiway with trees not far away which we were allocated for the first ever launches.
Regretfully most of the runways have now been totally obliterated by building works in connection with yet another film studio, the famous 'sunday market' has I believe moved to North Weald.

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Old 2nd Dec 2022, 10:03
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Originally Posted by brakedwell
The AOC of Coastal Command had a VIP Valetta, there were no Devons in the CC com. and I remember only one in the FCCS.
I logged a flight in VP958 on 13 Jul 1965; not sure which comms squadron this was, it was just the SDO offered to do a couple of trips with cadets one evening when we were there gliding.
I'm sure there were more Devons present at that time, one of which was on a 'queen mary' having taken off its undercarriage by attempting to cross the Bovingdon to Chesham road (through the traffic lights of course)
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Old 3rd Dec 2022, 12:04
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Spilt Milk

We might in some locations in Britain be suffering from a shortage of eggs at the moment but back in 1947 and 1948 the fickle hand of Nature resulted in localised shortages of milk in north-western England. Perhaps largely forgotten now an airlift was organised to transport milk from Northern Ireland to England . Quite a few of the Bovingdon Operators rallied to the cause.........




See link below:
https://derbosoft.proboards.com/thre...lift-1947-1948










Sister Halifax to ill-fated G-AJNZ of World Air Freight at Bovingdon.



Looking south-west from below Cronk ny Arrey Laa IOM








Wreckage from G-AJNZ remaining on Cronk ny Arrey Laa IOM. Credit: Peak District Air Accident Research.

https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/18826


Although at this stage Skyways (based at Dunsfold) had not been incorporated with the Lancashire Aircraft Corporation who were based at Bovingdon and participating in the milk airlift, I've included this incident.



Lancastrian 3 written off Nutts Corner 3.10.1947.





https://aviation-safety.net/database...?id=19471003-0


Acknowledgements: Newspaper Extracts - British Newspaper Archive. Also North-West Air News for Lin

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Old 3rd Dec 2022, 12:43
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Er wasn't there another airfift under way just after that time in which Bovingdon based aircraft played a major role?
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Old 4th Dec 2022, 09:52
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May have posted this before, but can't scroll through 25 pages!!. When I was 15 or so I used to cycle to Bovingdon from near Aylesbury. Took some time!!. Was near the traffic lights on the Chesham road, a Meteor T7 on approach towards Berkhamstead. Touchdown was late. Played merry tune on the throttles, decided it wasn't going to work properly, swerved off to the right in a cloud of dust, collapsed the port undercarriage, another cloud of dust as he limped drunkenly along the skyline to the left in another large dust cloud. Fire engines scrambled. No fire, nobody hurt . Cycled home, told my parents, who were disbelieving, until, lo and behold, it was reported in the next day's Daily Telegraph!. My parents from then on tended to believe me!!. Loved Chesham and visits to Bovingdon. In Chesham, met the prettiest girl I had ever seen. Been married 51 hears now
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Old 4th Dec 2022, 12:37
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Chevvron in answer to your query about the date that Bovingdon transferred to Air Ministry Control - On good authority: April 1st 1956.
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Old 4th Dec 2022, 16:33
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Originally Posted by JEM60
May have posted this before, but can't scroll through 25 pages!!. When I was 15 or so I used to cycle to Bovingdon from near Aylesbury. Took some time!!. Was near the traffic lights on the Chesham road, a Meteor T7 on approach towards Berkhamstead. Touchdown was late. Played merry tune on the throttles, decided it wasn't going to work properly, swerved off to the right in a cloud of dust, collapsed the port undercarriage, another cloud of dust as he limped drunkenly along the skyline to the left in another large dust cloud. Fire engines scrambled. No fire, nobody hurt . Cycled home, told my parents, who were disbelieving, until, lo and behold, it was reported in the next day's Daily Telegraph!. My parents from then on tended to believe me!!. Loved Chesham and visits to Bovingdon. In Chesham, met the prettiest girl I had ever seen. Been married 51 hears now
Like you I spent time at the end of the runway and one day came across a Vampire which had just overshot the runway and crossed the Chesham Road without any great damage visible.
I wonder when the traffic lights were installed ? I found a press cutting, only a line or two, which sadly I've deleted by mistake - Air Transport S.A. Short Stirling (Belgian) overran August 1948 (Newspaper dated August 19th). The press in those post war days didn't miss a trick:



Evening News May 14th 1948.
REGISTRATION F-BCJX Societe Aero Cargo (Lyon)




Bucks Examiner October 7th 1955

Newspaper report dated August 9th 1955




Weekly Paper Bucks Examiner July 11th 1958


From a Daily Paper Dated 7th July 1958 referring to previous incident above.

Source British Newspaper Archive.

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Old 4th Dec 2022, 16:39
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April 1st 1956 sounds reasonable. So I wonder why the SATCO transferred from Bovingdon (an MTCA airfield) to Farnborough (an MoS airfield) in 1954.
The change of operator was I suppose logical; civil traffic might have been reducing with the prospect of Gatwick being re-opened but USAF military passengers from Bushey Hall and Ruislip probably increased; even after the 7531st departed in '62, Bovingdon still got their fair share of C130s, C124s, C123s, C119s and C54s etc.as well as FCCS and CCCS traffic plus the French Air Attache.(not counting the B17s and Mosquitos during the various films being made)
We got other military traffic passing over and near Chesham too; at White Waltham some 15 miles south of us, Gannets were being assembled, test flown and delivered out to Lossiemouth; we could hear them taking off from White Waltham and they would route overhead Chesham at about 2,000ft!

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Old 4th Dec 2022, 18:03
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QUAops,just a correction to the photos in 485#; the picture is taken looking SouthWest from the crash site ,not NE.The `Calf of Mann` is the small island ,visible in the distance,off the SW tip of the IoM...
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Old 4th Dec 2022, 20:53
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Yes I'm terribly sorry you are quite right. I'm afraid Google Earth ran circles around my screen leaving me (and The IOM) completely disorientated......
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 16:14
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Short Stirling OO-XAL

I made mention of a Belgian Stirling which overran at Bovingdon on the 18th August 1948. I've managed to establish the registration and correct Operator but I wouldn't have been able to do so without reference to Geoff Goodall's superb Aviation History Site. The Stirling really was a big beast - see image of sister-ship below. It would appear that OO-XAL was damaged beyond economical repair and subsequently scrapped at Bovingdon. My thanks to Geoff Goodall whose text I reproduce.




The four Crew members and one Passenger were unhurt on arrival at Bovingdon.

Source Geoff Goodall's Aviation History Site with thanks.

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Old 5th Dec 2022, 18:46
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Originally Posted by OUAQUKGF Ops
It would appear that OO-XAL was damaged beyond economical repair and subsequently scrapped at Bovingdon.
Air-Britain, however, show the Stirling as having been repaired at Bovingdon and recovered to Brussels in October 1948.

oo-stirling.pdf (ab-ix.co.uk)
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 20:59
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Thanks Dave - I noted that before I posted and also that Air Britain stated that OO-XAL continued its flight to Darwin after the engine change was completed. Well one would think perhaps not after a month or more AOG and pax already carried to Darwin and Sydney by OO-XAK. As to where OO-XAL finally ended up is quite rightly open to debate. Either way it was struck off the Register 29.10.48. The whole outfit sounds so dodgy that I wouldn't be at all surprised that they decided to cut their losses and sell the damaged aircraft for scrap at Bovingdon.

However after another glass of wine: According to this (scroll down) it was flown Brussels - Cairo 1st-2nd October 1948.
http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads...tirling.14370/

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Old 5th Dec 2022, 21:15
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Image extracted from this tribute to Cecile Heems: https://www.vieillestiges.be/files/a...ileHeemsNL.pdf

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Old 7th Dec 2022, 08:46
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Can someone confirm when, and perhaps why, the traffic lights were installed? Did a particular incident lead to their introduction?

Earlier in this now-mammoth topic there's a reference to a bus being hit by an overshooter, with resulting casualties. If true, there would surely have been wide press coverage. Anyone know the facts or the fiction?

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Old 7th Dec 2022, 10:46
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Originally Posted by XV490
Can someone confirm when, and perhaps why, the traffic lights were installed? Did a particular incident lead to their introduction?

Earlier in this now-mammoth topic there's a reference to a bus being hit by an overshooter, with resulting casualties. If true, there would surely have been wide press coverage. Anyone know the facts – or the fiction?
I remember the traffic lights between Whelpley Hill and Bovingdon Village as always being there even in the early/mid '50s; they were on the main Chesham to Hemel road very close to the 02 threshold.
There were 2 bus services operating the route from Chesham to Hemel, these being the green London Transport service 316 and a local (to Chesham) service called 'The Rover' as it was operated by the Rover Bus Company owned by a person called 'J.R.G Dell'. Whilst the Rover ran along Whelpley Hill then turned round and came back before turning left direct to Bovingdon village past the traffic lights, the 316 bypassed Whelpley Hill then turned right off the main road and then left again about a field away from the road with the traffic lights on it so maybe this diversion was as a result of a bus incident. The traffic lights were used by ATC to halt road traffic when landing on runway 02 and for both landing and departing traffic on 20. I can recall at least 2 incidents where either a landing aircraft on 02 touched down short of the main road or an aircraft overan and went across the road after landing on 20 so that would seem to prove the traffic lights were needed.
One evening when we arrived for gliding, there was a Devon on a Queen Mary parked next to Hangar 1 and the story was that when landing on 20, pilots aimed to touchdown well past the threshold due to the fact the threshold was co-incident with a 'hump' in the runway and especially if you were carrying a high ranking officer, it looked bad if you touched down on the numbers because you tended to take off again when you hit the hump and on this occasion, the aircraft touched down late then the pilots discovered there was a brake problem and the aircraft ended up crossing the main road. The local farmer had a gate just across the road from the end of the runway so this would aid in recovering the aircraft and in fact, after the airfield was closed, a landowner used to land on the runway then taxy across the main road through this gate to park in the adjacent field.

Last edited by chevvron; 7th Dec 2022 at 11:01.
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Old 7th Dec 2022, 11:06
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Now I've subscribed to the British Newspaper Archive I've done a good search for Bovingdon and found no reference to any incidents involving a bus but I'll keep looking.

I'm afraid I can't recommend the Airport Canteen particularly if you are Vegan.



Bucks Examiner March 4th 1955. Source BNA.
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Old 8th Dec 2022, 06:05
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I don't know which canteen they were referring to.
The canteen operated latterly by Shorts was in the area where the prison is now situated, but there was another one on the RAF domestic site about a mile south of the airfield itself which we used once or twice whilst gliding at weekends; I dare say the Shorts canteen would be closed at weekends as there woud be no powered flying. .
I would assume that Shorts took over the contract from Fields when they started providing maintenance for the RAF.

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