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The ghost of RAF Chivenor

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The ghost of RAF Chivenor

Old 9th Mar 2011, 16:38
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The ghost of RAF Chivenor

Several sightings of a ghost have occured recently in what is now the Sgts' Mess but what was (circa 1980) built as the Officers' Mess.

Do any of the crusty (or not so crusty) out there have any historical snippets/info that might help the local vicar identify the ghost?

It is believed that Airmen's quarters or accomodation blocks may have been on that site before 1980 but there is no corporate knowledge of what buildings might have been there during the war (presuming the ghost is a WW2 casualty).

Any training accidents at Chiv during its days as a TWU that might have a bearing on the spectre?

Any help - without too much p*sstaking would be appreciated
crab@SAAvn.co.uk is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2011, 16:44
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I have a book of old airfields somewhere, but all I could come up with online is Haunted RAF AIrfields
Unfortunately Chivenor hasn't anything linked to it...yet!

Not the wandering spirits of Bet Lifton and her son Stanley on the No 2 Bus?
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 17:23
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I seem to recall back in the 229 OCU days someone was fatally injured when a Hunter T.7 canopy closed suddenly . Perhaps a visit to Heanton Churchyard could reveal some names & dates of deaths which could be investigated further . There were a few killed in road accidents , I believe these were buried at Heanton . There was a civvie in the MT section who collapsed & died while walking through one of the hangars during the refurbishment prior to re-opening in 1980 .
Sorry I can't throw any more light on your request .
Good Luck , Grandfer .

Last edited by grandfer; 9th Mar 2011 at 18:53.
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 17:43
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Heaven In Devon

When Chivenor re-opened as a TWU in 1980, the only 'Officer's Mess' was a combined Officers / Sgt's Mess although a new SNCOs' Mess and a new Officers' Mess were planned. I don't know when they opened as I left in March 1981 and they weren't open then:

With acknowledgements to Google Earth

The accuracy of my pushpins isn't guaranteed as I only have an old 1980 sketch map from my Joining Instructions for No.1 Course and it's difficult to match it exactly with the lorry park which now exists at the RAF's best-ever aerodrome.

Which Mess is the ghost believed to haunt?
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 17:54
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From the Bury Grammar School web site, Roll of Honour:

Flight Sergeant James Phillip Standring, 235 Squadron RAF. James Standring was the navigator/wireless operator of Beaufighter T5252 based at RAF Chivenor in North Devon. On 24th November 1942 they took part in a training exercise involving a German Junkers 88 bomber, which had force-landed at an RAF airfield in the Midlands some time previously and was now touring RAF bases to give pilots practice of attacking this type of aircraft. During the exercise the pilot, P/O Ronald Payne failed to pull out of a dive and crashed on the shore of the River Taw at Instow just across the bay from Chivenor. James Standring was 24. Manchester Crematorium Panel 21. A few months later another BGS old boy, Edgar Widdows was also killed in an accident at RAF Chivenor.
St J
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 18:00
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My Great Uncle died flying from Chivenor in April 1945. I can't recall exact dates but he was W/Op on 14 Squadron Wellington MkXIVs . I have the accident report card, only 2 of the crew were recovered, the others (my great uncle included) were never recovered from the sea. I believe the crew were killed by noxious fumes which entered the aircraft and some, if not all of them passed out. I'd be interested to hear how you go on!
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 18:31
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Perhaps the ghost has been posted in from the Officers' Mess at Scampton.
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 19:28
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The ghosts of RAF Valley

I have a book (on loan to a friend at the moment), which records the story of a Heinkel 111 crew who were shot down & perished on Anglesey during the War of the Austrian House Painter. This erudite tome suggests that a chap in WW2 Luftwaffe uniform wandered up to a German Tonka crew at an Open Day airshow at Valley in the late 80's, and had a bizarre conversation with the Deutsche crew, in somewhat dated German language. He was stunned & disbelieving by the performance data of the Tornado & disputed their Staffel details. The Luftwaffe crew were disturbed enough to report the incident, & were shown photographs of the deceased He111 crew. They positively identified one of them as the chap they had encountered.

The book also recounts reported ghostly sightings by guards on the Menai Bridges, subsequent to the He111 shootdown, of apparitions attempting to cross to the mainland, but being unable to do so.

Must desist now; hairs on the back of my neck are up: I have spirits in the house. Fortunately, they are imprisoned in a bottle of Auchentoshan Single Malt. I now intend to open it & offer single combat...........
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 20:13
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My father was JMO at Chivenor in the early 1970's, he remembers the loss of a hunter and its pilot who he thinks was a permenant staff QWI on a training flight.
He has fond memories of Chivenor pre the 80's rebuild........... no ghosts that he remembers.
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 21:47
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I served at Chivenor from 73-75 and never heard of a ghost. Looking at Beagle's annotated photo, the airmens' quarters (E-Lines) were located where the new SNCOs' mess is marked
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 21:54
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I've heard on the grapevine that all RAF flight-crew spectres are being reviewed by the MOD as they need to reduce "after-life based costs" by 40% before 2014. Therefore the ghost in question may sadly have to look for work in a ground branch spectral unit

etc etc....
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Old 9th Mar 2011, 22:19
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dont want to give too many details in respect of any family members that may read this thread. But i was told this story by someone who saw the outline of person "hanging" in a hut but the room was in darkness but for haze around the image, story goes that someone did indeed take their own life in that area. could well be the same thing. Ill see what the witness remembers
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Old 10th Mar 2011, 00:23
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As a very small boy in the early '60s I remember seeing a couple of two-seat jets collide during an airshow at Chivenor - possibly a Meteor and Vampire. I seem to remember that three of the four aircrew ejected, but only two survived.
I wouldn't have thought that reason enough to come back and haunt the place though...
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Old 10th Mar 2011, 06:01
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I think these were 2 Sea Venoms of a flight of 4 that had just departed Chivenor after an airshow , I believe they crashed near where the old Yelland power station used to be .
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Old 10th Mar 2011, 07:22
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Actually, when I was on the staff at Chivenor in the early 80s, those who lived in the old wood huts at the Officer's mess did report a ghost. They all heard a person 'clanking' down the corridor. Apparantly, it was the dying body of a chopped Hunter pilot who hanged himself by the chain the in the bogs. It broke under his weight and he crawled down the corridor to get help, but died on the way. True story.
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Old 10th Mar 2011, 07:29
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In the early days of the one-piece immersion suit, some chap hung his up to air by the window after getting back to his room following night flying.

Next day the batty entered in the morning gloom, to see what looked like a suicide, then let out a yell and dropped the tea tray.... Whereupon the room occupant woke up with a start and sat up in bed to find out what was going on....prompting the batty to take off in terror.

OK, that's the tale I was told; whether or not 'tis true, I have no idea.
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Old 10th Mar 2011, 08:54
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Fantastic response - thanks very much chaps, I'll pass on these details to the vicar who is going to check the headstones in Heanton churchyard.

Beagle - it is the building marked as 'new SNCOs' mess' on your picture and yes, I fully agree it is a travesty what has been done to a fabulous airfield.
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Old 10th Mar 2011, 11:47
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But your war stories were much more amusing, Blunty old bean!

Do you remember the traffic cone with gunsight we gave you - for telling long range war stories (limited to 800KIAS / M1.3 - same as a Jag, or so you told us!).

The only unusual sound I heard in the huts back then was my teeth chattering in the winter mornings before I lit the gas fire!

Huts 87-94 were well south of the 'new SNCO's mess' on my map - about where the brown patch is on the opposite side of the arterial road to that large car park. The Officers' Mess of the 1960s was south west of them, IIRC...
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Old 10th Mar 2011, 13:41
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RAF Chivenor 'Ghost'

....gas fire! We plebs had a coal-filled pot-bellied stove!

I was at Chivenor 1969 - 1971 and certainly never heard - or saw -any ghosts!!
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Old 10th Mar 2011, 13:53
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I remember arriving at the Main Gate on the way to visit the SAR Flt in 73/74 to see an airman in shirt sleeves (with collar detached!) lugging* a coal bucket to his SECO(?) hut - I thought I'd arrived on a WW2 film set!

* I almost said 'humping' ... but that came later in the camp's history I believe.
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