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Attached are 3 photographs of Halifax WL-X of No.6 Group RCAF 434 Squadron.
I am particularly trying to establish in which year these images were shot and at which base the aircraft was stationed at at that time. Any other information about the aircraft would also be much appreciated.
The Halifax appears to have the Merlin XX or '22' type engines, which would make it the Halifax B.Mk.V. (according to the Squadron information in the link below) with the Mk.Vs being replaced by the Mk.IIIs in 434 Squadron in May 1944.
No 434 'Bluenose' Squadron arrived at Croft from Tholthorpe on
11 December 1943 flying Halifax V's . At that time WL-X was LK649 but she was lost on ops to Berlin on 28-29 January 1944 along with 4 other squadron aircraft . Another MkV LL170 then became X-Xray before moving to 1659 HCU at Topcliffe . LK649 was issued new to 434 in August or September 1943 . It is very difficult to tell when the photographs were taken except to say 1943 or 44 .
Thanks very much David. Were these the only 2 WL-X aircraft from 434 Squadron or the only lost during combat with the WL-X designation? Could there have been other aircraft with this designation that could have been lost during exercises or retired after service completion?
A very brief visit to Croft on the way home last Saturday - 26th July 2008. Although I called at the airfield there wasn't time to fully explore the area so I'm unsure just what is left in terms of buildings, David?
The memorial which can be found on the A167 at Dalton on Tees.
Behind this is an information board.
I like these! Behind the memorial shooting into the sun, the "airman" is looking towards the airfield watching for his comrades perhaps!
A return visit needed methinks.
I'm obliged to David Thompson for sending me this, and other photos, of the memorial plaque on the wall of the racing circuit HQ, on the former airfield.
No problem Noel . The entrance to the racing circuit is at MR 93/293069 and is well signed off a minor road south of Dalton On Tees . Follow the private road which leads to the circuit HQ and the plaque is on the wall near the entrance , although slightly faded now . On the way in you will drive over a section of the old runway which is still used by resident light aircraft . Their hangar is close by . The airmans statue is at the south end of Dalton and worth a visit . I'm told there is a plaque in the church at Croft but I have never called to see it .
Anyone know whether this is extant?
That's one hell of an adaption or not the orignal.
I was sent this photo a while ago, said to be the tower at Croft in 1945:
All the best,
I've always had a problem with Croft's tower history. This doesn't help:
From Alan Todd's excellent 'Pilgrimages of Grace' (ISBN 095201770 9)
The original timber tower was supplemented by the brick building under construction 5 October 1943.
In 1959 the brick building was bought for £11 by Mr Claxton and demolished.From this website (http://www.racing70s.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/racing70s/Information/croft48_81.htm)
Croft Autodrome 1964 to 1981 - Race control was the old RAF control tower left over Bomber Command,
Todd's maps however show the 1993 race control tower in the same place as the 1945 RAF one - WTP (http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=54.45407956248903&lon=-1.5532055497169495&gz=19&oz=8>=1) Bing (http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=t283djgw3h7x&lvl=20&dir=0&sty=b)
In 1997 there was a major upgrade at the site which included a new tower. Link (http://www.croftcircuit.co.uk/crofthistory.php)
So what are we looking at in the photo I posted, a Type A or B Tower with an added third storey perhaps?
Shame the ground floor is hidden behind the blast shelter in the foreground.
Site plan 7531/53 (was CT/428 ) is for Neasham (Croft). The key is poor but Watch Office appears to be CT/117 Bc and CT/369.
The mystery continues.
The plan reveals that a large number of huts had already been demolished on the Tech Site by this date.
On a number of other websites RAF Croft refers to HMS Ariel near Warrington - Link (http://www.airfieldinformationexchange.org/community/showthread.php?5917-Croft-near-Warrington&p=65383#post65383).
Having just investigated Alan Todd's book it appears that the Yorkshire airfield was renamed RAF Neasham on 19 Feb 1951. At this time it was the RLG for 205AFS at nearby Middleton St George (AKA Goosepool and Dinsdale)
The airfield had been unofficially been known as Neasham's aerodrome for some time after John Neasham, who had leased a large part of the disused airfield in 1947. He was a prominent Darlington businessman and councillor and was responsible for the formation of the Darlington & District Aero Club.
Neasham is also the name of a village half-way between Croft and Middleton airfields !
To add to the confusion the airfield had always been known by the locals as 'RAF Dalton' (Dalton-on-Tees being the nearest village). I discovered this the hard way years ago when the local paper stated that an airfield memorial had just been built adjacent to the 'airfield at Dalton'. Having spent over two hours driving round the real RAF Dalton near Topcliffe and getting absolutely nowhere talking to the locals, I gave up - did more research - and a week later went to Croft to find the real memorial. (http://goo.gl/maps/wJt1)
Darlington and District Flying Club used Croft from Aug 1947 to 1952. The aero club also undertook the overhaul and conversion of many former RAF Auster and Proctor light aircraft. Austers G-ALJC,JRN,JUE,DH Rapide G-AKOE and LXA,Proctors G-AIII,LFV,KIH and GLC were in use by the flying club.
Richard E Flagg
Aerial Photograph : Looking West - 7 July 2003
© Copyright Hugh Mortimer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The OS map shows three footpaths onto the airfield site from the N. They converge and the single path crosses the runway, goes past a roughly triangular shaped area of trees and then heads south across a field. Anyone know if these exist or have you walked it? Any problems with access etc?
I remember attending a Darlington Motor Club 'do' which would be some time around about 1981 when the track closed. Now I lacked interest in WW2 architecture then but I'm fairly certain their club house was the old control tower, I know this building stood approx midway along the length of the North - South runway & was adjacent to the perimeter track, I'm not 100% certain but I'd say it was on the Moor House Farm side.
There's some good wartime photos of Croft here http://www.rcaf434squadron.com
Some old racing shots here http://www.darlington-motor-club.org.uk/history.php I'd go for picture 83 being taken from the Club House area.
Anyone know whether this is extant?
That's one hell of an adaption or not the orignal.
Good point, I'd go for not original, I believe this building faces East on the East side of the airfield, it looks towards the Moor House Farm area & not onto the airfield.
Croft is actually in North Yorkshire...as can be seen by the address of Croft Circuit which now occupies the former airfield site - Croft Circuit, West Lane, Dalton On Tees, North Yorkshire, DL2 2PL
Six miles south of Darlington, to the west of the LNER main line, a suitable area of meadowland was requisitioned in 1940 as a satellite landing ground for the No. 4 Group bomber station at Middleton St George. The remote location was in an area known as the Walmires with the nearest sizeable village Dalton on the A167 road.
In 1941 Airfield construction commenced with hard runways, perimeter track and aircraft standings. The final runway lengths were to 2,000 yards for the 09-27 and 1,400 yards for the secondaries aligned 03-21 and 15-33. Hardstandings were 36 pans of which three were lost during runway extensions and replaced by three, loop type. Hangars were the usual two Type T2 and a single Bl. Dispersed accommodation provided for a maximum 2,460 males and 323 females.
In October RAF Croft opened and No 78 Squadron was removed from Middleton St George to Croft, with Whitleys, flying their first mission from the station on the night of October 22/23
In June 1942 No 78 squadron returned to Middleton St George and RAF Croft was upgraded to Class A standard with extensions to the runways which had deteriorated with use. In September No 419 Squadron with Wellingtons was moved in from Topcliffe but they stayed only until November when they too moved to Middleton St George. However from a nucleus from No. 419 Squadron No 427 squadron was formed on November
Croft was one of the northern airfields designated to be used by an all-Canadian No 6 group and on January 1st 1943 No 427 squadron was assigned to No. 6 (RCAF) Group. In May No 427 squadron moved to Leeming and No 1664 Heavy Conversion Unit was formed at the station staying at Croft until December when it was transferred to Dishforth to make way for Nos 431 and 434 Squadrons which arrived from Tholthorpe both operating with Halifax Vs.
During late 1944 both squadrons converted to Lancasters and maintained their operations as part of Bomber Command until the end of the European war. After VE-Day the Croft Lancasters were briefly employed in ferrying released POWs back to the UK before returning to Canada taking their Lancaster Xs with them in June.
In the immediate post-war period Croft (renamed Neasham) continued to serve as the Middleton St George satellite and was available for `circuits and bumps' by No 13 OTU's Mosquitos. However when the OTU left the parent station RAF Croft was closed to flying and after a period under a holding party, Croft was finally abandoned by the RAF.
In 1947 John Neasham acquired the lease to the land and formed Darlington and District Aero Club. However, the club folded after only 5 years and the airfield fell into disuse. Meanwhile the Darlington & District Motor Club held Motor Race Meetings on various layouts utilising the runways and perimeter roads.
In 1962 Bruce Ropner and fellow enthusiasts bought half the venue at public auction and by
1964 a track track circuit was completed, opening on August 3 : The first meeting attracted a crowd of between 30,000 and 50,000 people.
Between 1995 and 1997 an international class motor race track was built on the site of the airfield at a reputed cost of some two million pounds.
This might be of use ;
A few flying visitors are expected as well as the cars . The JP is night stopping at Teesside , allegedly .
Details here ; http://www.croftmilitary.co.uk/
Weather permitting , as from memory last years event was cancelled due to rain !
Richard E Flagg
Some photos I took at Croft on 1 April 2013
1 - Runway 02/20, looking south
2 - Taxiway looking west from the runway 20 threshold
3 - Latrine Block
4 - Blast Shelter
5 - Unknown building adjacent to the remains of a BFI
6 - Unknown building on a dispersed living or communal site
As has already been indicated in an earlier image of the memorial in Dalton on Tees, the very first unit to use Croft was 78 Sqn who had made the short transfer from MSG. During their time here, the unit converted onto the Halifax. This images taken in 1942 celebrated the event
A couple of months later they returned to MSG and Croft was destined for transfer to No 6Gp (RCAF)
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