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Thorney Island Emsworth

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Thorney Island Emsworth

Old 10th Jan 2011, 17:14
  #101 (permalink)  
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c-130 xv181

Many thanks for the photos of XV181,it brought back a few memories.In 1975 i was a civilian driver for the RAF at Colerne and i returned the no4 engine with bent prop to the engine bay (5 hanger) at Colerne,181 was at that time in one of Thorneys hangers with fin & rudder removed.----good days!!!!
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Old 6th Sep 2011, 18:49
  #102 (permalink)  
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One Bump too Many

I was on duty that day, and watched XV181 doing circuit and bumps. Just as it was about to touch down it was caught by a gust of wind, and the starboard wing touched the ground, immediately catching fire. Fortunately the fire engines were standing by at the end of the runway, and were on it very quickly. All the crew escaped unhurt.
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Old 8th Sep 2011, 15:24
  #103 (permalink)  
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What a great thread guys with some excellent pics. Wondered if anyone has any of the Westland Wyverns that were briefly there with the resident ATDU around 1953?
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Old 8th Sep 2011, 21:34
  #104 (permalink)  
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My first spell at Thorney was in '55 and there was a Wyvern in one of the hangars then, Extraordinary looking beast - getting in must have been akin to climbing the outside of a house to get to the bedroom!!
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Old 9th Sep 2011, 07:10
  #105 (permalink)  
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Thanks Cornish Jack, didnt know any were there that late on. Dont suppose you have any photos of it, as i've only seen one standing under the frame of a hangar.

As for getting into the cockpit it was fairly straight forward with a footstep on either undecarriage leg, and foot holds in the port fuselage side.
But one Boscombe test pilot was noted as saying "Access to the cockpit is difficult; it is recommended that it be made impossible!"
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Old 9th Sep 2011, 11:04
  #106 (permalink)  
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Thorney as a bolt-hole

Fascinating thread, which I've only just come across. Perhaps an outsider can comment?

My only professional interest in Thorney (never flew there) was that it had the only north-south runway in the south of England suitable for large transports. Based at Gatwick and Heathrow, some of us used to speculate on the (remote) possibility of returning to find an un-forecast southerly gale.

If the wind direction was 190 or greater, Southampton or LHR/Stansted Rwy23 would probably have been suitable. The trickiest direction was probably 140 - 180, assuming one didn't have enough fuel for Birmingham or Schiphol. Not sure what catering was available at Thorney, but we would probably have had to keep the pax on board while the wind abated.

The nearest we came to this scenario was probably the great Storm of 1987, but that peaked in the early hours and I don't think anyone went to Thorney. Its closure in the 1990s leaves us with one less bolt-hole.

On a different topic, Cornish Jack, re Dan Winterland's Anson photo:
With that sort of prop pitch angle, it's got to be feathered.

Curious that the rudder looks to be central?
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Old 9th Sep 2011, 17:25
  #107 (permalink)  
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Wyvernfan - unfortunately no photos, just this imprinted memory of an, apparently, excessive amount of metal to get one person airborne!!
Chris Scott - depending on when you might have arrived at Thorney, the catering prospects could have been Country Club De-luxe ('50s) or NAAFI controlled awfulness ('60s).
Re. the Anson rudder, you could be right - at my age, if it's not in the foreground, I can't see it! From my few hours on the beast, and given the output of the Cheetah, one not working would have been a pretty daring adventure, methinks.
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Old 10th Sep 2011, 14:33
  #108 (permalink)  
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Cornish Jack: "...depending on when you might have arrived at Thorney, the catering prospects could have been Country Club De-luxe ('50s) or NAAFI controlled awfulness ('60s)."

Captain Speaking: "No problem, we'll be with you in about 20 minutes, pax one-eighty, and we'd like to order 100 litres bottled water [thinks: our legal department wouldn't like the pax dehydrated...] and 200 paper cups, err... and could we have 10 packets digestive biscuits, please? ...No, ten: one-zero. ...Thanks, see you on the ground." [thinks: that should keep the punters happy for five or six hours, and the bean-counters won't even notice.] "Hoskins! Got that Thorney chart yet? And did you get their actual? Veronique, can you put that spare club-meal in the oven?"
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Old 3rd Nov 2011, 20:34
  #109 (permalink)  
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fascinating thread. I live just out of Chichester and as a child remember activity at Thorney and Tangmere although I am too young to remember activity at Ford! The last activity at Tangmere I remember were sleds being dropped ut the back of hercs.
Couple of things, I was told that the wreck in the sand to the S/E of the Island was a wellington and local stories say is there are still bits around. A few years ago a local team found a Stuka and as they were digging through the silt they found the bomb in the cradle armed!
The question was asked why they closed Thorney, I was told that the restrictions in airspace and the anticipated growth in Gatwick traffic at the time were factors although the base was offered to and rejected by the FAA. A plan for a joint Chichester/Portsmouth airport was also discussed but rejected.
The approach lights are still there at both ends and looking very sorry for themselves. the army built along side the rwy and I can not for the life of me understand why the rwy was not left clear. After all when the resident air defence battery deploys would it not make more sense to fly the transports in, pick them up and deploy them rather than take them by road to BZZ?
Local stories folks so the provenance of some is not tested

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Old 4th Nov 2011, 14:53
  #110 (permalink)  
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Thorney Island closed, in 1976 and not in the 90's as mentioned somewhere above, as part of the 1975 Defence cuts and was a cost saving exercise as it was no longer required following the phase out of the Andover C1 fleet as tactical transports, and the reduction of the Hercules fleet. It was one of 12 stations in the UK announced as closing at the time.
I doubt if proximity to Gatwick had anything to do with the decision, the only issues that the station had in it's recent years were the many and vociferous noise complaints from the locals.
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Old 8th Nov 2011, 12:51
  #111 (permalink)  
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Thorney Island closed in 1976 and not in the 90's as mentioned somewhere above, as part of the 1975 Defence cuts...

Thanks pr00ne, I stand corrected.
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Old 8th Nov 2011, 16:58
  #112 (permalink)  
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I have a soft spot for Thorney Island as it helped me out twice. Once in 1963 when I managed to just make into there with a J1N with an engine fire and secondly in 1966 when Seafog rolled in and their GCA was able to talk me down right into to the flare.
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Old 11th Nov 2011, 15:09
  #113 (permalink)  
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Hi Poltergeist,

There's certainly something very solid underwater in the area you describe. Whatever it is, I hit it at speed a couple of years ago and my centreboard shattered. It was an interesting sail home in a F5-6!

I wonder if the Stuka you referred to is the one that's still under the mud to the north of Dell Quay? The bomb was recovered in the late 70s (ish; can't remember the exact date) and taken out into the Solent and detonated. After the disposal team left I recovered a few very small parts of the aircraft that had been disturbed during the excavation.
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Old 20th Nov 2011, 20:23
  #114 (permalink)  
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Thorney Island

Thorney appeared in the press in the late fifties due to a bizarre and tragic occurrence; a young airmen, apparently frustrated in his attempts at gaining a flying commission, tookoff in a Varsity and headed across the channel. He ran out of fuel and crashed in Belgium, I believe.
One of the squadron`s pilots took off in a Varsity to chase him down. This pilot,I heard later, contracted polio and died.
In fact the polio epidemic claimed several young people at the time and at least two of our fellow students at Chichester High School were stricken.
This was prior to the successful intrduction of the Salk vacine.
The village mentioned in an earlier post was actually called West Thorney and is seriously ancient, having an entry in the Domesday Book. The church was also very old-Saxon, I think, with an ancient Yew tree and a
cemetery with weathered headstones bearing the skull and crossbones.
We figured they were the last resting place of pirates but they were most likely local Freemasons.
I am pretty sure that, prior to the S55`s of 22 Sqdn., there were Shackletons and I vaguely remember seeing a large twin, tricycle undercarriage, painted black, American producedaircraft.
A great place to grow up-too bad it closed. The C.O. at the time was
Group Captain Boxer and he had a delightfull daughter called Pippa.
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Old 21st Nov 2011, 06:53
  #115 (permalink)  
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Gp Capt Boxer - was that Alan Boxer, ex Lysander pilot
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Old 21st Nov 2011, 17:01
  #116 (permalink)  
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Group Captain Boxer

was that Alan Boxer, ex Lysander pilot
21st Nov 2011 05:23
No. Air Vice-Marshal Sir Alan Boxer but was Air Commodore H E C Boxer, they were not related.
and he had a delightful daughter called Pippa
agreed and I think she may have had a sister (and a much younger brother).
Anyway a small group of likely lads are approached by Group Captain (Sumner Ball?) "Would you boys care to help my daughter entertain her friends" Two equally attractive sisters whose Daddy just happened to own the smart Palais in Pompey. Proved to be a very handy introduction for the next few months.

Last edited by Pom Pax; 21st Nov 2011 at 17:28. Reason: Check links before completion.
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Old 21st Nov 2011, 18:08
  #117 (permalink)  
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It was Sir Alan I knew - I think his widow, Lady Pam, is still around. Was very good to me when I arrived as the new Admin Manager at a well known South Coast Yacht Club. I think it was partly due to him that I was offered the Secretaryship not long after he had died.A good man and a "Gentleman" RIP.
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Old 12th Feb 2012, 09:12
  #118 (permalink)  
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Archaeology on Thorney...

I hope members will excuse this rather strange request... the best link I can offer is that I once was the F/Sgt in the RAF section of a Cadet Corps (to 1959) !

The local archaeology society is trying to bring together records that refer to the Island. These are rather few, and not always clear. We are particularly interested in any finds made (Roman pottery, flints etc), and we do know that some were made and recorded by a Rev. Crookshank in the late 1930s, and then by the CO Gp. Captain Eeles in 1948/9. There are two very old photos now in the church taken by him during an excavation.. but no record of where they were taken!

My request is for any members who have any recollections, photos, or indeed anything that relates to archaeology to please let us have this information, even if very minor, as it might help build up the picture! We would also be interested in anyone who recalls the Gp Captain and his digging, and indeed whether any of his finds were kept somewhere (eg. in a cupboard in the Officers Mess or whatever??), or maybe written up somewhere. Does anyone know if he is still with us, or has surviving relations, who might know of his finds.

Do please get in touch, however minor it might seem to you, as we will be very interested. Thorney has had people living there since the neolithic age (stone axes etc) and very possibly has an unrecorded Roman villa there -- but where might it be?! Many thanks.

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Old 12th Feb 2012, 10:38
  #119 (permalink)  
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I think you will find GP Capt eeles was father of a later Gp C apt called Tom, who wrote rather fine book on his own flying career. he may even post on here - try Where are they Now
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Old 12th Feb 2012, 12:57
  #120 (permalink)  
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Many thanks for responding! In fact, I have somewhat contradictory versions of the name: I found some photos etc in Flight which show a Gp Cptn H. Eeles (later CB and CBE), who was certainly station commander at Thorney in 1949, then later Air Commodore (? at Cranwell), and retired in January 1959. That 1949 date would be just right for him being involved in the relevant archaeology, as there were finds made and reported then. Flight mentions that he had a cousin S/L R.A Eeles.

But I have seen original old photos of a dig on T.I. which refer to it being by a Gp Capt. B.C. Eeles, and elsewhere a reference to a C.B. Eeles (but possibly this just mixed up the initials). And you add a later Gp. Cptn Tony Eeles, which presumably could be a A. Eeles - but maybe could be the cousin R.A. above, rather than son? but unlikely from his implied age to be our amateur archaeologist.

I am probably making heavy weather of this, but clearly a dynasty!! I have not yet found anything on the Where are they Now listings. Many thanks again.

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