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RAF Bovingdon - 1960s

Old 2nd Oct 2023, 21:22
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For those moved by the story of Alan and Amelie Hanbury-Sparrow and their daughter Cristina the following may be of interest:

Lt Col Alan Arthur Hanbury-Sparrow's brother, Capt Brian Hanbury-Sparrow, was killed in WWI on the 26th August 1918. Alan first married Ileen Gray in 1917 and appeared to have had at least three children with her, before divorcing and marrying Amelie Roder in 1939. As far as I could tell Cristina (Alan's mother's name) was Alan and Amelie's only natural child. There is a similar story to that of the link posted by OUAQUKGF Ops but this one has more pictures, including a beautiful one of little Cristina's grave, and a later photograph of Alan and Amalie.

First published in 1932 Alan authored The Land Locked Lake, a limited edition book which I understand is well thought of. A person claiming to be Alan and Amelie's adopted daughter has said she was publishing a revised edition of this book, but nothing seems to have come of that that I could find. Poetry, written by Alan or Amelie, is stored in the U.S. and available to researchers.

Alan (73) and Amelie (63) immigrated to New Zealand on the Himalaya in 1965. At least one grandchild appeared to have resided in New Zealand where they passed away in 2017 leaving a son an daughter who would have been a great nephew and niece of Cristina.

There is also a little more on Sir Arthur Binny Scott of Red Lodge (Red Leys) here.

FP.
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Old 2nd Oct 2023, 22:00
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A little more on Amersham and Chesham Bois here including an UXB in the garden....https://amershammuseum.org/history/people/20th-century/formidable-women-2

Vignettes of my Childhood Days in Chesham Bois

Perhaps we had better have an image from Bovingdon before we drift off the Garden Path ? BOOM !







VV958 one of the last operational Royal Air Force Ansons was scrapped at Bovingdon in 1968.

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Old 11th Oct 2023, 17:12
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Bucks Examiner 16th May 1958


AHOY THERE !


" I'm so sorry Old Man, sorry I mean Sir ! We haven't quite got the range to reach The Bahamas - Will Bovingdon be convenient ? "







(Enactment with apologies).



Notts Evening News 5th +19th August 1958




At long last some fresh images. These photographs appear to be taken by John Young. The writing looks to be in his hand. They are a lucky find....


Bucks Examiner 23rd May 1958 (BNA).

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Old 14th Oct 2023, 11:59
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"I am going to make the most of it," said Chesham councillor Mrs F K Brandon, referring to the "lavish hospitality" at the cocktail party laid on by the Americans.

Sounds like she did just that.
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Old 14th Oct 2023, 18:00
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British Patriotism - Brandon's Furniture Store Chesham. (John Young's Diary).



Ah but the lavish USAF hospitality given on that occasion at their Officers' Dining Room never got Bovingdon a mention in that rather exclusive magazine 'The Tatler'...........


The social whirl which accompanied an FAA 'Wings' ceremony at 22 FTS Syerston ended with an unexpected diversion to Bovingdon..........














Images: The Tatler 14th February 1951. (BNA)

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Old 26th Oct 2023, 14:21
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A SOMEWHAT PROTRACTED PASSAGE......


South Wales Echo June 7th 1950 (BNA)

MR BARNETT JANNER ASKS A QUESTION IN THE HOUSE: (HEAVY SIGHS ARE HEARD)




A FEW SNAPS FROM JOHN YOUNG'S CAMERA AT BOVINGDON'S RATHER DAMP OPEN HOUSE 17TH MAY 1958.


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Old 5th Nov 2023, 18:56
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The Marble Arch Line - Luftwaffe Aces drop in for a 'Chat'

You may wonder what all this is going to be about. Well that makes two of us as I managed to loose the whole shooting match just as I was finishing writing it up.



Image:Le Bourget Air and Space Museum.

The Combat crew Replacement Unit disbanded at Bovingdon in September 1944. With the War reaching its climax in Europe the logistical demand on USAAF Air Transport operations was almost beyond comprehension (certainly to me) in its size and complexity. In October 1944 the newly laid aprons at Bovingdon were ready to receive the 50 C-47s of US Air Transport Command that were to move up from Hendon whilst at much the same time 1402 Air Transport Base Unit was established at the airfield where it would remain until April 1946 and Bovingdon became the main London Area Airfield for the USAAF.

Here you will find the origins of The Marble Arch Line. It actually operated from Hendon in much the same way that HS2 will not be operating from Euston.






Airways from Bovingdon 1944.

Below: Orly June 6th 1944 and more raids to come....... US Air Transport Command services from here to Hendon commenced 31st August 1944.


Image: American Air Museum in Britain.


Source: Craven and Cate - The Army Air Forces in WW11 (1948).

In addition to US Air Transport Command's presence at Bovingdon 516 Troop Carrier Group with C-47s were based there from October 1945 until April 1946 when they transferred to Bremen, Germany. This group provided aircraft and personnel for EATS (European Air Transport Service) which was operated by the 51st Troop Carrier Wing with its HQ at Wiesbaden, Germany. EATS commenced services in September 1945, ceasing operations in December 1947. C-46 and C-54 Aircraft were also used.



Image: David H Stringer and Airline Timetable Images with thanks.

Below: Wiesbaden Air Base Circa 1950.

Photo usarmygermany.com

When you consider that a typical Air Transport Group would consist of 4 Ferrying Squadrons, 4 Transport Squadrons and 2 Service Squadrons you will forgive me for trying to keep this simple.
Many of the missions were classified as 'Cargo and Evacuation' and I'll leave you to imagine what that might entail as the Gooney Birds accompanied the Allied advance slowly moving across Europe towards Berlin and southwards towards Bavaria and Austria. There would be too, in 1945 and early 1946 masses of allied POWs to be repatriated through Bovingdon to say nothing of the thousands of USAAF personnel and their aircraft who would transit the airfield during their return to America.




Extract from John Young's Bovingdon Diary.

Many years ago I came across on the internet a photograph of captured German Generals disembarking from a C-47 at Bovingdon. Well of course I can't find it now despite hours of searching.
These Chaps will have to do.


At a London Railway Station 1945.

In the meantime Helen Fry has written several interesting books about secret intelligence activities at Trent Park, London, Wilton Park, Beaconsfield, Bucks and three miles down the lane from Bovingdon, Latimer House. At these locations Prisoners of War were gently interrogated. What most of them were not aware of was that their accommodation, leisure facilities and whatnot were heavily bugged. Microphones were placed in light fittings, fireplaces, under billiard tables, below exterior window sills, etc. All conversations were covertly monitored by Listeners who worked in shifts recording and translating what they heard, the results then being transcribed for closer examination. Thousands of prisoners passed through these establishments on their way to permanent POW camps, most none the wiser of their indiscretions being picked up, while the useful information gleaned probably places these establishments second only to Bletchley Park in British Intelligence successes during WW11.

Photo: Fritz Lustig via Amersham Museum.
Emigre NCOs of the three Listening establishments photographed at Latimer House. The Men were the Listeners while the Women translated and carried out other associated intelligence duties.

Churchill had made his 'Iron Curtain' speech, the Allies being very much aware that post-war Russian ambitions towards the West would lead to a state of high tension in Europe and the more the Allies could find out about the Luftwaffe, for which there was perhaps a grudging admiration, then the better for all concerned. Helen Fry writes that since March 1945 a special aircraft had flown twice a week into Britain bringing special prisoners to Latimer House for interrogation by The Air Intelligence Section. She doesn't name the airfield concerned but it would probably have been Bovingdon. She records that on 1st September 1945, 269 Luftwaffe personnel including associated technical workers were flown into Bovingdon and were taken down to Latimer House. On the following day 94 Luftwaffe POWs arrived at Bovingdon for Latimer House and this pattern of special flights continued until the end of September. It's amusing to think that the development of Bovingdon airfield to the status of an operational Bomber Station was stymied by the Intelligence Services in 1942 on account of aircraft noise interfering with their activities ! The Allies were particularly interested in the Me-262 but they also wanted to know more about the tactics,strategies and operations employed by the Luftwaffe. Much of the interrogation of the Generals and Pilots at Latimer House was carried out by USAAF personnel under the direct supervision of Royal Air Force Intelligence Officers. Several Luftwaffe Aces were also later interrogated at the Royal Air Force Central Fighter Establishment at Tangmere, Sussex. I have quite a long list of Luftwaffe personnel who passed through Bovingdon and Latimer House but I don't want to bore the pants off you so I'll just mention a couple. Dates seem to be a movable feast so I'm very wary of them.

General Adolf Galland. Was flown to England in May 1945 and interrogated by the RAF at Tangmere during June 1945. He was interrogated at Latimer House 16-17 August 1945 and returned to captivity in Bavaria from Bovingdon on August 24th in a B17 which flew him to Kaufbueren airfield together with Werner Baumbach, Commander of the shadowy KG200 Bomber Wing. Galland was recalled to England arriving presumably at Bovingdon on October 7th 1945 to be interrogated at Latimer House on October 8th. He was released in April 1947.

Major Gunther Rall. Fighter Ace Me-109 and Me-262. Captured near Salzburg where he was imprisoned. Transferred to POW Camp at Heidleberg. Shortly thereafter he was part of a small group of German Fighter Aces who were put on an aeroplane to Bovingdon. He was then interrogated about the Me-262 I assume at Latimer House. He was then moved to a POW camp near Cherbourg, France and shortly recalled to England together with the Stuka pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel to attend two weeks' further interrogation at RAF Tangmere. He was then returned to Cherbourg.



Gunther Rall was shot down over Germany on May 12th 1944 by Col Hubert Zenke of the 56th FG USAAF who was flying a P-47 on an escort sortie. Rall lost his thumb but managed to bale out.

Oberst Gordon Gollop. Austrian Fighter ace. Later (Jan 1945) became 'The Inspector of Fighters' for the Luftwaffe. Interrogated at Latimer House 18th September 1945.

Generalfeldmarschall Hugo Sperrle. Luftwaffe Big Wig. Brought for interrogation at Latimer House period August-September ? 1945.

During December 1945 Latimer House was putting up the shutters for good and any remaining detainees were taken under American Military escort to Dover and put on a boat.

Further Reading:' The Walls Have Ears' by Helen Fry 2019. 'Fighter Aces of The Luftwaffe' by Philip Kaplan.

I'm providing a link for a video which I guess originated from a USAAF Film Unit. The locations are unknown. The destination of the flight is unknown.The C-47 belongs to 312th Ferrying Squadron of the 27th ATG. The video is rather overlong. Read the full introduction to find out who is who.

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn1003945




https://historicengland.org.uk/image...K_1088_RS_4047






" Don't Forget Me ! "

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Old 22nd Nov 2023, 11:31
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Walthamstow - November 22nd 1942

Accident to Spitfire V b EN592 of USAAF HQ Squadron, 8th Fighter Command, Bovingdon. On attachment to RAF Tangmere at the time of the incident.


Spitfire V b BM635 of 67th RG. Not the subject aircraft but showing similar livery to that of EN952.




Yorkshire Post November 23 1942

The above is a good measured bit of journalism. I've followed it up with this somewhat fabulist contribution from a journalist of The Daily Herald. Nevertheless it contains an interesting account of the accident and the gallantry displayed by Mr Curd.



Daily Herald November 23 1942

One's eye cannot help being drawn by the squabbling clergy in the neighbouring column. A reminder of Church and that the accident happened just after 1130 on a Sunday morning. A few Parishioners would probably still have been making their way home from Church ready for a ration restricted lunch when the Spitfire flew over their heads to attempt a landing on a large playing field. Fortunately being a Sunday morning and what with the Sunday Observance Act, Amateur Football was only permitted in the afternoons, though even then during the war Sunday Football was not much played as most players were on active service or involved in other war work. Thus we don't know for sure but there was probably little human activity on the playing field that morning, however a few people were tending their allotments just in the north west corner of the field (Veggies for lunch) and witnessed the accident.



Image Historic England. The Elms Playing Field in 1947.

Edward Road borders almost the entire length of the playing field to the right. Coppermill Lane runs from right to left at the base of the playing field. One cannot be sure but it is probable that the Spitfire approached the area from the direction of Tottenham in the north-west flying low over the town then turning to fly along Coppermill Lane before approaching the playing field from the direction of the reservoirs. Once over the playing field the Spitfire was seen to suddenly turn sideways and dive to the ground some 50 yards from the back of the nearest houses in Edward Road.

It was not a particularly good day for an air test. Quite flyable but visibility in London south of the Thames was poor. I've included these Met Reports more for their beauty and as a flavour of the times rather than their relevance to the accident in which the weather might have played a part.





News Chronicle November 24 1942



Liverpool Echo November 27 1942




January 17 1943 Col Towle presents the propeller tip to Alderman Mrs E M Miller.


2nd Lt Harvey Dalton Johnson 1919-1942.

Harvey Johnson first enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in April 1941. Making poor progress towards his desire to be a pilot he left the US Army Air Corps and enlisted with the RCAF where he qualified as a Sergeant Pilot at Moncton Flight Training School in January 1942. He was posted overseas to England where he saw service from March 1942 flying Spitfires with 402 (Canadian) Squadron. On October 10th 1942 Harvey was discharged from the RCAF and joined the USAAF. He was first assigned as a Pilot to HQ Squadron, 8th Fighter Command, at Bovingdon with which he was serving at the time of his death. It is unclear whether he was ever assigned to 67th Observation Group USAAF or not. He was buried at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.
In 1948 his family arranged for his re-interment to be made at the Atlantic City Cemetery, Pleasantville (near Northfield where Harvey was born), New Jersey. I must add that I am extremely grateful to Harvey's half brother Paul Johnson in the USA for all his help with images and insights into Harvey's family history. Thank You Paul.



Harvey's Brother was killed at work in a construction accident the day before he was due to report to the U.S. Navy.
Photo from Paul Johnson with thanks.




Harvey Johnson is still remembered by young and old in Walthamstow :https://www.guardian-series.co.uk/ne...ppermill-lane/




For many years the propeller tip presented to the people of Walthamstow by the USAAF was displayed with a memorial plaque near the crash site. It was later moved into the offices of Warner Estates where tenants would pass it in the hall when going to pay their rent. It now safely resides in the store room of the Vestry House Museum Walthamstow. I'm most grateful to Ainsley Vinall of Vestry House who very kindly took this photograph for me.



Image: London Playing Fields Foundation.


Newspaper Cuttings: BNA.

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Old 10th Dec 2023, 20:51
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A little Horse Trading with Drift.



Image Skeets Meadows. (Paulick Report).

The above is not the subject aircraft. Image dates from 1960. (Not Bovingdon).




Bradford Observer 6th November 1948.



Source 'Truth' (Brisbane Australia) 7th November 1948.
Later publications state that the dogs were U.S.Army Police Dogs.



Image from Drisa Archive.

The above illustrative of the use of a horsebox in a C54 Skymaster. In this case a photograph from January 1960 with 'Tiger Fish' aboard Skymaster ZS-AUA of South African Airways.

The first Transatlantic shipment of horses by air was made one day during November 1946 when six thoroughbreds were flown in an American Airlines C54 Skymaster from Shannon to Newark N.J. and then onwards to Burbank, California.



Manchester Evening News 22nd November 1951.



Manchester Evening News 27th November 1951.

'No British airline could handle the job....'

Well I don't know what Skyways would have said about that, albeit the image below is from 1952.....departure of Britain's Olympic Equestrian Team from Blackbushe.


Source: 'Foxhunter' Harry Llewellyn.

The Americans have laid claim to the first Racing Thoroughbred to be transported by air. A horse bearing the strange name 'Wirt G Burman' was transported between San Diego and San Bruno in October 1928.
However:

Britain's Instone Air Line lay claim to transporting the first Racehorse by Air in 1921 and continue in the same business today. Image Instone Air.

Another early claimant is 'Phantom' with Betty Rand - I'm not sure which is which.



January 30th 1928.

Image Michael Matson (Barn Mice website Canada) The aeroplane is reported as being French - can anyone identify it?



Indianapolis Star 29th February 1932.

Finally the header (C54 Skymaster N79000) had an interesting history: delivered to the USAAF in February 1943. At the time the above photograph was taken the Skymaster was owned by California Airmotive and was on lease to Global Airways for two months only in 1960. Images of the aircraft in Global colours are understandably quite scarce but you can find photographs of it at Prestwick and elsewhere if you search. It was subsequently sold to and operated by Continental Deutsche Luftreederie, Germany period 1961-62 as D-ADAM . They went bust. Aviation Traders purchased the aircraft in 1963 and converted it into a Carvair which then operated as G-ASKN with BUAF/BAF 1964-76.


(1968)
In June 1976 this Carvair was sold to Society Anonyme de Construction for the transportation of construction materials based in Libreville, Gabon as TR-LWP. It flew only for 5 months before being impounded at Brazzaville Airport( in what is today The Republic of Congo) for the non payment of servicing fees. There it remained, despite a change of ownership, robbed for spares and in turn being unable to obtain the same, finally scrapped in May 1986. Further reading: 'The ATL-98 Carvair' by William Dean.(McFarlane and Co Inc 1994).

KB29 4484005 of the 420th ARS based RAF Sculthorpe at Bovingdon's 'Open House' 17 May 1958. Photographs by John Young.











And finally a Mystery Solved ?



I've often wondered about this uncaptioned snap which you can find on the Bovingdon Airfield link. Page 1 this thread # 11.

A couple of weeks' ago I was reading a really super book called 'Catalina over Arctic Oceans' by John French. (Pen &Sword 2013) when I came across this.( The author was with the Air Ministry Accident Prevention Directorate at the time, c1947). ' One day I was air testing the Mosquito 34 after an inspection and on the air test, the propeller which I had feathered, failed to unfeather. The resulting single-engined landing was successful, although with no overrun on that particular Bovingdon runway, I had to turn rather smartly to the left onto the grass, this slightly strained the undercarriage. My passenger had been a young electrician who had worked on the inspection and I jokingly said "That's what happens when there's an electrical fault!" The poor lad was out of the aircraft in no time at all and away.'
My thanks to Anthony Duir, John French's Grandson, and editor for permission to quote from their book.

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Old 11th Dec 2023, 15:51
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Originally Posted by OUAQUKGF Ops
A little Horse Trading with Drift.
Another early claimant is 'Phantom' with Betty Rand - I'm not sure which is which.



January 30th 1928.

Image Michael Matson (Barn Mice website Canada) The aeroplane is reported as being French - can anyone identify it?
I'll go with a Farman F.60 Goliath. See photo and article here: https://www.key.aero/article/farman-...urned-airliner

A quote from that article:
During the 1924 Wembley Exhibition, American cowboy Tom Mix asked Air Union to carry his horse Tonyto Paris. A Goliath was stripped, the main cabin being given an extra floor of strong planks and straw, while a stall was made with a manger and the walls reinforced with wood. A wooden-fenced ramp helped loading, and history was made.
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Old 11th Dec 2023, 16:27
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Originally Posted by Jhieminga
I'll go with a Farman F.60 Goliath. See photo and article here: https://www.key.aero/article/farman-...urned-airliner

A quote from that article:
Ah, Tony the Pony!
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Old 29th Dec 2023, 18:13
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Eighty Years Have Flown


Aldbury Village with Wiggington Hill beyond (at 200M amsl).


I came across this incident when I was looking for information about the Valetta accident at Tom's Hill, Aldbury in 1952. A crippled B-17 42-31528 of 365 BS had crashed nearby on December 31 1943 with the loss of four lives. Subsequent to the following article appearing it has been suggested that perhaps the crew had been trying to locate Bovingdon. We shall never know. Interestingly on October 24 1944 B-17 43-38398 also brushed high ground at Wiggington whilst trying to find Bovingdon on a training exercise. (Post 233 Page 12).




Extracted from 'Your Berkhamsted' - Parish Magazine. December 2010. With thanks to Dan Parry and The Editor.

The Crew: Pilot, 2nd Lt John J Quillman. Co-pilot, 2nd Lt Ralph L Blake. Navigator, 2nd Lt Jean Repetti. Bombardier, 2nd Lt Adolph Erikson. These Officers KIA.
Sergeants all: Flt Engineer/Top Gunner, Chas Groeschen. Radio Operator, Bob Cove. Ball Turret, Everett Esch. Waist Gunner, Martin McCormack. Waist Gunner, Patrick McHugh.
Tail Gunner, John Vasos.




Cheddington Airfield is approximately 4 miles from the crash site whilst the Crew's home base at Chelveston is some 34 miles to the north.



Cheddington Airfield (93M amsl) Showing South End Hill (140M amsl) in relation to the thresholds of Runways 26 and 32. The hill topped by the site of an Iron Age Fort. (Historic England).

A tricky little airfield - the main runway 26/08 being 1780 yards long. With hills to the north-west and west at Dunstable, Ivinghoe Beacon, Pitstone and Ashridge and the northern escarpment of The Chiltern Hills a couple of miles away to the south. USAAF Station 113 one-time Satellite to Bovingdon not fully operational until the arrival of B-24 Liberators to form the CCRC on December 20th 1943.



South End Hill Cheddington. Photo ukairfieldguide.


Crash Site at approx 210M amsl looking north. (1949) Photo Historic England.



Crash Site looking south-west - Bridgewater Monument in foreground - Aldbury below right. Image Mike The Drone with thanks.

Then in July 2011 a response is published in Berkhamsted's Parish magazine to Dan Parry's article of the previous year.






Extracted from 'Your Berkhamsted' Parish Magazine. July 2011 with thanks to the editor.



Heroine of The Hour. Mrs Daley passed away in 1980. Image American Air Museum in Britain.

On in time now to May 2016 and I came across a huge and entertaining 'Blog' entitled 'Sentimental Journey' written by a daughter of John Vasos from which I've taken the liberty of extracting the following:






Chelveston Church Bell Tower. (Imperial War Museum).

This link gives brief information on those Killed in Action:https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/...ohn-j-quillman



Pilot John J Quillman.

Image:Conshohocken Historical Society.

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Old 31st Dec 2023, 11:30
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Latimer House

'Q'– Could you confirm the source of the suggestion that Bovingdon did not become an RAF bomber OTU (as, presumably, planned) at the request of the intelligence services at Latimer? Is it from Helen Fry's book?

Many thanks!
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Old 1st Jan 2024, 16:05
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Happy New Year ! XV that is right - from ' The Walls Have Ears ' by Helen Fry. The references that she quotes are for documents in The National Archives. https://www.google.co.uk/books/editi...sec=frontcover

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Old 12th Jan 2024, 10:57
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Originally Posted by OUAQUKGF Ops
Happy New Year ! XV that is right - from ' The Walls Have Ears ' by Helen Fry. The references that she quotes are for documents in The National Archives. https://www.google.co.uk/books/editi...sec=frontcover
Thanks Q. I have PM'ed you about the document in the PRO.
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Oceanic Drift



A rather fine photograph taken by the late Arthur Pearcy, not dated but thought to be in the early nineteen-sixties. Grumman Albatross HU16 - 517218 belonging to the 67th ARS based at Prestwick. Pictured at Bovingdon adjacent to Number 4 Hangar. We don't know the frequency of visits to Bovingdon by this type of amphibian but I think that they were quite unusual - this particular aircraft hasn't appeared on the thread before. It was probably photographed roughly round about the time that Flying Tiger Flight 923 ditched in the North Atlantic. Three Albatrosses of the 67th were tasked for that rescue but were unable to alight due to the sea state - whether 517218 was one of them we know not. She entered service with the USAF in 1951, probably coming to the 67th ARS in 1957 and later transferring to the U.S. Coast Guard Service where she served until 1990.





Leicester Daily Mercury 24th September 1962. (BNA).

Link here - you can access CAB Report at bottom of page.https://aviation-safety.net/database...?id=19620923-0




Image as captioned with additional information from Bob Thomas.

517218 at Baton Rouge-Metropolitan/Ryan Field 8th December 1968 while tasked with search for crewmen USCG White Alder.



Image US Coast Service.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USCGC_White_Alder



After leaving the US Coast Guard Service it appears that 517218 was registered as a civil Albatross N7029F being at one time in the now defunct Polar Aviation Museum Collection at Blaine, MN and later with C+P Aviation at Anoka City Airport, MN. In November 2022 the Albatross was re-registered as N99TP its new owners being TP Universal Exports Int.



Image: Flightaware.com Pictured 29th July 2005.

Finally with TP Universal Exports..........


Well as you might gather this wonderful Albatross is now over 70 years of age and still flying. There happens to be another one on Midway Island in The Pacific - thought to be almost exactly the same age.............



Image Midway Island Website.

This is not the Albatross in question. Photographed 1964-65 by the late John Lafayette of Midway Search and Rescue Unit. The party are at Kure Island Airstrip and are just about to board their flight back to Midway some 65 miles away. Kure Island was a Loran Station period 1960-1992. It is now a Nature Reserve.

The Albatross in question on Midway is:



Wiki.

This is the Female Laysan Albatross known as 'Wisdom'. She hatched out on Midway in 1951 and has returned most years to breed there including in 2023. She is thought to be one of the oldest if not the oldest bird in the world.



Jim Hurst with thanks. Laysan Albatrosses at Midway Island - Wingspan 77-80 inches.



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Old 13th Jan 2024, 15:24
  #637 (permalink)  
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Quiet please!




This extract from Helen Fry’s book The Walls have Ears confirms that, in October 1941, Bovingdon’s construction and use were restricted by an intelligence services request to avoid interference with top secret recordings of PoWs’ conversations at Latimer House, three miles away.

​​​​​It also reveals a further airfield had been planned near Wilton Park – another ‘M Room’ listening-in facility further south near Beaconsfield. Along with Trent House near Cockfosters these sites, which processed many German generals and admirals, are said to have helped shorten the war.

The restrictions contradict the assertion in some publications that RAF bombers were operating at Bovingdon early in 1942, when the airfield was listed as being parented by 26 OTU, a Wellington unit headquartered at Wing.

Keen local spotter (and later celebrated artist) John Young’s journal bears this out, only mentioning odd visitors including a Halifax and Hudson: but no Wellingtons.

Meanwhile the main runway (04/22) was restricted to 1,634 yards long, rather than the 2,000 yards ‘Class A’ bomber standard.

Arriving at Bovingdon in August 1942, the 92nd Bomb Group of the US Eighth Air Force was presumably also subject to the same local flight limits to preserve the quiet at Latimer House – as were subsequent American units. But they must have been devised in a way that did not give rise to questions.

By the end of the war the secrecy surrounding Latimer House had, it seems, diminished and, as OUAQUKGF describes above (#627), a number of high-ranking PoWs flew into Bovingdon before being driven to the mansion or one of the many temporary buildings surrounding it.

I'm hoping a War Office document I've ordered from the PRO might reveal more details of how Bovingdon was shaped by circumstances unforeseen, at least by the Air Ministry.

Last edited by XV490; 17th Jan 2024 at 16:21.
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Old 17th Jan 2024, 12:50
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I've now managed to establish that Bovingdon was to have had a satellite airfield at Holtspur, just west of Beaconsfield, but it was cancelled following concerns over noise affecting recordings of PoW interrogations at nearby Wilton Park.

A War Office memo dated 1/8/41 said: "We have been informed by the Engineer-in-Chief of the General Post Office that the disturbance caused by flying in the vicinity of these aerodromes would make it quite impossible for the Centre to operate

"Experience with existing installations has shown how serious the effects of external noise on the intelligibility of received speech may be. This is particularly true when a conversation dealing with technical details is in progress, since the loss of a single word may destroy the value of a large proportion of an intercepted conversation.


"The preparation of the special premises required by the Centre at these two sites entails an extensive works programme, the cost of which, together with the installation of the necessary scientific plant, is likely to exceed £400,000.

"It was learned in June last that it was proposed to construct an aerodrome at Bovingdon, approximately two miles north of the Centre's premises at Latimer House, with a satellite aerodrome at Holtspur, about one and a half miles west of the Centre's premises at Wilton Park and that work was already commencing on the former site, the War Department having given a 'release'."


Two months later another memo stated: "THE COMMITTEE: (a) Took note that the Air Ministry had agreed to give up the project for an aerodrome at Beaconsfield. (b) Agreed that work should proceed on Bovingdon aerodrome and on the Interrogation Centres at Wilton Park and Latimer House and that trials should be carried out to determine the extent of the interference likely to be experienced at Latimer House. (c) Agreed that no action should be taken to develop an additional Interrogation Centre pending results of trials carried out at Latimer House."



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Old 17th Jan 2024, 20:37
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Old 18th Jan 2024, 12:50
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The tests on the effects of aircraft noise at Latimer House took place in May 1942, supervised by the research branch of the General Post Office (GPO; later British Telecom/BT) – which had overseen the recording equipment at the site.

On May 7th, a Halifax Mk I, which was to provide the noise source, hit obstructions while landing at Bovingdon, as confirmed by John Young, who wrote: “This landed while the metal barriers were still in place over the wet concrete.”

John later climbed inside the bomber while it was being repaired.Two days later it took off to fly several passes over Latimer House at different heights.
​​​___________

The GPO report dated May 9th, 1942 described the background and the flight tests:

Tests of interfering effects of Aircraft Noise

About six months ago it was realised that an aerodrome was in course of construction at Bovingdon, some 2½ miles from the P/W camp at Latimer, and it was feared that aircraft might cause serious interference with the listening work.

A series of tests was accordingly arranged for Thursday, 7th May, when a Halifax bomber was to fly over the camp at various heights to be arranged with the pilot on that morning.

T
he War Office proposed that experienced officers should listen on the equipment while the aircraft was flying overhead and express an opinion as to the magnitude of the interfering effect.

Experience has shown, however, that opinions of this kind are of very doubtful utility and it was decided to carry out articulation tests.

S
ince it was not possible on security grounds to take experienced testing crews to the camp, recording of logatoms [meaningless words] were made and these would be reproduced on high quality equipment in two of the cells under various conditions of window opening.

The sounds received in the listening rooms were to be recorded and the records thus made sent for transcription by expert Intelligence Officers.

By this means it was hoped that an analysis of the errors would provide some measure of the interfering effect of the aircraft which would independent of personal opinions and prejudices.

Everything was ready for the tests at 10 o'clock on Thursday morning when the pilot of the aircraft was due at the preliminary conference. At 12 o'clock news was received that the aircraft had been damaged by anti-aircraft obstacles when landing at Bovingdon aerodrome.

It
transpired that the Department of the Air Ministry providing the aircraft had not contacted the Department of the Air Ministry building the aerodrome and ascertained that the latter was usable!

N
o standard marking to indicate that the aerodrome was unfit for service was displayed at Bovingdon and the pilot had been unable to see the obstruction until touching down. As the aircraft was too badly damaged to take off again immediately, it was only possible to arrange a programme with the pilot which was to be carried out on Saturday morning.

T
he programme was as follows. The aircraft would fly over the camp at 1000', 2000', 4000' and 6000' on a specified course, starting about four miles on one side and finishing five or six miles on the other [ ... ]

The weather conditions were perfect to-day and the tests were carried out satisfactorily. Some modification was necessary as the effect of the aircraft noise was considerably less than had been anticipated and, instead of carrying out the last test at 6000', this was altered to 500'. The records have been sent for transcription and on return will be analysed.
___________
It is reasonable to assume that, despite earlier misgivings, MI6 and the GPO then gave the green light for unrestricted flying from Bovingdon, although the airfield's size may have curtailed by the orders issued by the War Office in October 1941.

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