at Tempsford Airfield (1942 - 1945).
and their aircraft.
|Although flights from other squadrons occasionally used RAF Tempsford, there were two RAF squadrons based at Tempsford airfield; No 138 and 161 squadrons. Both were involved in these highly secret operations, that ranged over all of enemy occupied Europe, dropping agents or supplies. Losses were very high, with up to one aircraft per week being lost at some points during the war (especially around the D-Day period in 1944). Missions were concentrated on the "moon nights" of each month, where a full moon allowed for better night vision for the pilots.|
The Whitley, used for early operations proved to be slow and vulnerable.
A halifax bomber used for supplying resistance groups in occupied Europe with containers and packages, as well as for parachute drops of agents.
A Lysander of 161 Squadron, "J for Jiminy Cricket" at Tempsford with some of the squadron pilots during 1942. This particular aircraft was flown by Squadron Leader (later Group Captain) Hugh Verity (second from the left).
Landing in torchlit fields deep inside enemy territory, the
Lysander has become synonymous with the "cloak & dagger" work of the SOE. On the right is a photo of an RAF Tempsford 161
Squadron Lysander (with long range fuel tank slung under the fuselage) and the ladder specially welded to the side for quick
exit and entry.|
On 14th July 2007, during one of the reunions at the airfield, the last airworthy Lysander now based at Old Warden, did an emotional flypast over Tempsford, to honour the veterans of the "Moon" squadrons and the French Resistance, who had stood in fields at night in occupied Europe, guiding the 'planes down, one of whom was also present at Tempsford for that reunion.
KILLED IN ACTION 6 JULY 1944, HOLLAND
F/L J.W. Menzies, Pilot, F/O K.R. Bunney, Navigator
Sgt E.M. Eliot, Airgunner, Sgt D.J. Withers, W/T
The Lockheed A28 Hudson, as used by 161 Squadron. On 5th July 1944 one such aircraft flew from Tempsford with four Dutch resistance "passengers". It never returned. In 1997, the aircraft was excavated from a bog near the Ijsselmeer, in Holland. The last of the occupants (Flight Lt. Menzies) was finally laid to rest with full military honours, as his fellow crew members had been in 1944.
The Short Stirling, although unpopular elsewhere with the RAF, proved highly successful from Tempsford, although one did mysteriously crash in early 1945 on Sandy Heath, killing all the crew.
|The Germans came very close to discovering the airfield. One night, a lone bomber dropped marker flares along the main runway of the airfield, but flew off unaware of what they had found and how close they had come to locating what Hitler himself described as "The greatest menace".|
A German Dornier bomber (similar to the above) was shot down near Barford, after bombing the nearby Power station at Little Barford.
Numerous books have now been written about secret
activities at Tempsford by those who served there and / or by their relatives - some are more accurate
than others...... |
Please visit the Links Page for more information.
||In honourable memory of those Canadian airmen who served with 138 and 161 squadrons at RAF Tempsford, we are proud to be linked to the Air Force Association of Canada (formerly the Royal Canadian Air Force Association). Click on the crest to visit their website.|
This is intended to be a purely non-commercial website about the area we live in. If I have made any factual errors or unintentionally breached any copyright in creating this page, please send me an e-mail and I shall correct/remove the item.