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RAF Bovingdon - 1960s

Old 2nd Apr 2013, 21:35
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RAF Bovingdon

I served at Bovingdon as a National Serviceman from 1957 to 1959 working in the Fighter Command Communication Squadron. I was able to take flights many times with several pilots based there or from Fighter Command HQ in different types - Anson, Chipmunk, Varsity, Meteor, Devon and Pembroke.

The only photograph I have is of a Meteor that overshot the runway and finished up across the road.

We were billeted a mile or so away down a lane by a pub. We used the village cricket ground in the summer and often went to another pub in the village. I enjoyed my 18 months there.

USAF was very busy there in those days and I have a list of the numerous types I saw plus other air forces, RAF and civilian aircraft. I still have some RAF maps and the famous RAFAC.
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Old 3rd Apr 2013, 17:27
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When I was kid in the fifties we lived in Eastcote - for some reason I remember going to pick plums in an orchard that bordered on Bovingdon airfield
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Old 4th Apr 2013, 16:09
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Living as I did in Chesham, I well remember the USAF activity at Bovingdon as many departures flew over Chesham to route via the Beacon Hill fan marker. As well as Dakota's there were regular C119s, C123s and C130s plus the occasional C54 and USAF Stratocruiser (can't remember the number of that one!), occasionally even a C124 Globemaster. During the annual 'Open Days' we were treated to the usual re-fuelling demonstration with a KB50 towing an F100, F101 and B66 simultaneously!
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Old 4th Apr 2013, 19:31
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When I was a kid in the fifties I remember picking cherries from the boughs hanging over the hedges of the orchards near to the airfield. I was on horse-back at the time!
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Old 4th Apr 2013, 19:43
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Like Chevvron, I remember Bovingdon well. Living near Great Missenden, I would frequently see c.47s doing circuits in the distance. Curiosity ruled, and my cousin and I cycled there in our early teens. This will amuse Chevvron. We went via Berkhamsted and then up the hill, approaching from the East!!!!!!. Only did that once, then found a better way. Saw a Meteor T7 overrun the runway, ending up with a collapsed port undercarriage etc. My parents disbelieved me, until they read it in a small news item in the next days Telegraph!. As Chevron says, all those aircraft, plus a B.66, an A.26 Invader, T33 Shooting Star, Skyways of London Connies and Hermes, even got flown over by a B.45 Tornado!!. Very much stimulated my interest, and [like Chevvron, I believe] I joined the ATC, became a Staff Cadet at RAF Halton, 613 Gliding School, went on to PPL and Skydiving, married a very pretty girl from Chesham Bois 42 years ago, still together, and still retain my aircraft interest, visiting museums and shows at diverse places such as Venezuela and South Africa. etc. though not so much now. She wants to Cruise these days!!!/ Regards, John.

Last edited by JEM60; 4th Apr 2013 at 19:45.
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Old 5th Apr 2013, 16:01
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JEM, I started my A & B/Proficiency course at 613 in Sep '66; were you there then? I got taken on as a staff cadet when I completed the course.
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Old 5th Apr 2013, 22:01
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CHEVVRON. I was there before your time. 1958 to 1960 or thereabouts. Like you, I was taken on as Staff Cadet after completing the A and B. In the days of Ken Bayliss, Jacko, Duncombe twins, Robin Miller, S'Ldr Topsfield, Phil Plows, and Phil Purchase et al. I used to live a few doors away from Tony Wicks, and Dickie Bird [whom I'm sure you know!] was a partner in my Driving School in Aylesbury. I remember he and I on the flight deck of a Boeing 707/ 320 over the French Alps going to Greece. Crowded, but very interesting!!. Good days!!!!!!. Great fun, with great responsibilities for a 16 year old. All a bit different now!!
Always pleased to read your posts. Regards, John Maxwell.
P.S. USAF Stratocruiser was a C.97

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Old 5th Apr 2013, 22:14
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I started my A & B/Proficiency course at 613 in Sep '66; were you there then? I got taken on as a staff cadet when I completed the course.
I was there with 617 after we moved from Hendon in 67/68. Corrupted me for the rest of my life......
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Old 8th Apr 2013, 12:22
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Accident Dakota G-AJBG 1948

Further to my 'Ramble' about Bovingdon I have been searching the net for more information about this accident. I was incorrect in stating that all on board had perished for the First Officer survived the accident. Here is an extract from a local paper:

'May 21 1948.

A Dakota freight aircraft, carrying a load of strawberries and cherries from the South of France crashed in a wood barely a quarter of a mile from Bovingdon Airport in the early hours of yesterday.

Three members of the crew were killed instantly, and the fourth is in the West Herts Hospital with severe injuries.

Although the crash was heard about 2.45a.m., an extensive search failed to reveal the whereabouts of the wreckage. It was subsequently spotted from the air by a pilot just taking off from Bovingdon at about 8a.m.

The plane,a freighter belonged to Channel Isles Air Charter, and was on a normal night run with soft fruit for the London market.

Staff at Bovingdon Airport heard the crash, and emergency crews were turned out immediately.They were reinforced by Herts and Bucks Police and the whole area surrounding the airport was combed, but it was not until relief searchers had been turned out that the plane was found.

Searchers, directed by Police Constable J.D.Lord were led to Bourne Grove Wood, where they found the mangled wreckage. It had been spotted by the pilot of a plane immediately after taking off. He wirelessed the airport the location.

The tail of the plane and rear fuselage remained reasonably intact. The plane had broken its back, the front portion of the fuselage having turned over. The landing wheels, presumably all ready for landing, were pointing upwards.

It was from this portion of the wreckage that the bodies of two members of the crew were recovered after part of the plane had been hacked away. The third body had been thrown almost clear of the wreckage.'

Here is a summary of the subsequent Accident Report from Flight Magazine July 14th 1949:

'The Chief Inspector of Accidents, Air Cdre Vernon Brown, reports that he has been unable to determine the cause of the accident involving Dakota
G-AJBG that occurred at 01.45hrs on May 20th 1948. The aircraft was owned by Air Transport (Charter) (C.I.) Ltd and was on a charter flight from Valence,France to Bovingdon with a cargo of fruit.

While making a circuit of Bovingdon beneath a cloud-base which had lowered to 300ft, the aircraft flew into a wood about half a mile from the airfield and was wrecked. Fire did not break out, but Capt Boalch, R/O T.G.Young and F/E H.Spencer were all killed. The First Officer G.Castellain, was seriously injured.

The Inspector was unable to find evidence of pre-crash failure in the aircraft or its equipment and at the time of the accident the undercarriage was down and the airscrews in fine pitch. The pilot had not requested or obtained clearance before entering I.F.R. conditions in the vicinity of Bovingdon and he had been informed that the cloud-base was 400ft.
This height was below the minimum recommended for the approach procedure adopted by him.

The pilot had not been informed that the cloud-base was in fact 300ft at the time of his arrival, nor that it had been as low as 200ft earlier. The Inspector considered that control of the aircraft from Bovingdon was not carried out with a high degree of efficiency.'


Subsequent to this accident it would appear the Bourne Grove Wood was re-named Strawberry Wood. It can be found just next to the north-western perimeter of the airfield.

Last edited by OUAQUKGF Ops; 9th Apr 2013 at 12:17.
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Old 17th Jan 2015, 12:37
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Hi Chevron, we must know each other. I was a staff cadet/instructor at 613 GS Halton from 1964 - 1968 and a member of 2204 Cesham Squadron ATC, who are you?
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Old 18th Jan 2015, 02:45
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Hi Chris. Well put it this way. You were instructor i/c the evening I pranged VX275; also I remember your first car, a Morris Minor with bald tyres in which you occasionally gave me a lift home.
I stayed with 2204 Sqdn until late 1983, when they gave me command of 1811 (Marlow) Sqdn. and still remained connected with 613 GS as Wing Gliding Liaison Officer.
TC

Last edited by chevvron; 18th Jan 2015 at 15:57.
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Old 18th Jan 2015, 08:37
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There was a 1965 episode of the Avengers on TV the other day that was filmed at an RAF base, and according to IMDB it was Bovingdon. The only aircraft shown was a Mosquito, perhaps to do with filming 633 squadron.
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Old 18th Jan 2015, 16:02
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Yes that would have been the Mossie that was left behind after 633 Sqdn was filmed. On occasional detachments from 613 GS Halton, we shared the same hangar.
It was flown out in about 1967, after they had drilled a small hole in the tail and drained a large amount of rainwater out, then it returned in '68 for the filming of 'Mosquito Squadron'.
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Old 27th Jul 2016, 08:58
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Crash Map of Bovingdon

Hello to all!

I worked in the Physics industry for most of my life but now I am a full-time writer. I occasionally publish books on aviation and/or WWII history. I am researching one now and came back to my home area of Bovingdon. I have some questions for all you experts on this great forum (which I didn't know existed until yesterday)!

I grew up in Chesham, just down the road from Bovingdon a few miles (born in 1960) and have been fanatical about aircraft all my life. I studied Aeronautical Engineering at Queen Mary College (as it was called then), although I would love to have been a pilot, if my eyesight had been better. We moved to Ley Hill (much closer to Bovingdon) in 1968, although I remained completely oblivious to the fact they had actually filmed The Battle of Britain a few months before.

When I was at Ley Hill Primary School, there were persistent rumours of a Spitfire wreck in the woods somewhere near Bovingdon. I put it down to 'tall tales' at the time because I could find no evidence. But recently I found an entry by a woman who grew up around Bovingdon:
BBC - Beds Herts and Bucks - Entertainment - The Glenn Miller mystery

Search for the miss-spelled word 'wooods' and you will find it.

Here is her comment in full, if you can't find it:

carolynn langley
although i was born at the end of the war april 1945. i can remember playing in crashed spitfires and lancasters that were left in the wooods surrounding Bovingdon airdrome, there used to be in the groove cherry trees that grew from an italian plane that crashed there. my aunt was the first anglo american wedding at the church at bourne end.sadly my uncle died last year just before what would have been their 60th wedding anniversary
She is probably referring to the Vickers Valetta that crashed there in 1954, when she talks about a crashed Italian aircraft. However she is correct that cherry trees are abundant in the area and may well have grown through the wreckage or been there and had wreckage strewn around them.

Lancasters and Spitfires were not based at Bovingdon, as far as I know, but her comment resonated like a bell in my head with what I heard at school. One thing I have learned from 20 years of researching books is not to discount any rumour or myth as possibly the truth, no matter how crazy it sounds!

I wonder, could there be any truth to the rumour that a Spitfire crashed there?

I see from another reply here from chevvron that a 'crash map' existed of the area around Bovingdon. I wonder, does anybody still have a copy of this map or does anybody know chevvron, and could you ask him/her?

I am, unfortunately, unable to contact members directly as I am new here, but I eagerly await any replies. I would love to know anything about any knowledge people have of crashes and wrecks around Bovingdon, except the vegetable carrying Dakota and the Vickers Valetta, which are well documented.
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Old 27th Jul 2016, 12:35
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Many years ago I read in the 'Bucks Examiner' that Glenn Miller's aircraft made an intermediate stop at Bovingdon to pick up anther passenger. I've seen no evidence elsewhere to support this.
The 'Crash Map' I referred to was for the use of the airfield fire service and showed the airfield in great detail together with a grid system for locating 'incidents' in poor visibility.
Sorry it didn't details crashes in the vicinity like you thought!
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Old 27th Jul 2016, 13:49
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Thanks!

Thanks Chevvron for such a swift reply.

Yeah - I am a bit confused too about the Glenn Miller (possible) stop over at Bovingdon. I read that in several places but can't verify it.

I thought the 'crash map' might be too good to be true No probs! I'll keep searching.

If anybody knows of any WWII, 50s or 60s crashes/wrecks in the area, I would be very interested in hearing about them.
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Old 27th Jul 2016, 13:56
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Heck, tears of nostalgia - brought in Eastcote but recall going plum picking at Bovingdon and family picnics at Ley Hill Common. More than 60 years ago now, so much will have changed.
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Old 27th Jul 2016, 14:03
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Ley Hill common has hardly changed at all Wander00. The Swan pub has taken down the photos of Clark Gable, James Stewart et al (who served at Bovingdon) but the golf course and Harman's woods are just about the same. I think the other pub might have closed, but not sure.
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Old 27th Jul 2016, 14:43
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I used to pick mushrooms on the airfield when I was stationed there in 1961 /62. The north west corner was best.
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Old 28th Jul 2016, 04:59
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Originally Posted by XV490 View Post
T-21 - thanks for the link. After a bit of messing about on that site, I found a great collection of photos during the RAF's tenure of Bovingdon at: index
Under the list of films made at Bovingdon, 3 have been missed out, one in the '50s starring Lana Turner, (haven't got a clue about the title) 'Mosquito Squadron' made at roughly the same time as Battle of Britain and 'Hanover Street made in the '70s using B25s. I remember one visit in about 1968 where the aircraft from both B of B and Mosquito Sqdn were parked alongside each other in a long line.
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