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Thread: West Malling

  1. #181
    Senior Member Peter4456's Avatar
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    Default Re: West Malling

    'I would be interested to find out more about the Memorial in Nettlestead, it is a new one to me. When was it dedicated and where is it? Do you have a photo of it too please?'

    Hello Richard,

    Here as promised is the photo of the memorial at Nettlestead to WO Blumer of 91 Sqn - I've also attached a photo of his grave at Brookwood - the full story is in the Flypast Spitfire Special from 1996!
    Blumer Mem.jpgBlumer Grave.jpg

    Best wishes,

    Peter

  2. #182
    Senior Member Peter4456's Avatar
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    Default Re: West Malling

    I've always been fascinated by 'airfield pubs', although I wonder how many were actually used by the RAF! Think about it, why would you go for a drink on your doorstep? - many officers would have had cars and done anything to get away from 'work' for a while, hence the Biggin Hill pilots drinking in the White Hart at Brasted!

    As far as I can tell, the main pubs used by RAF West Malling men (and WAAFS!) were The Bull at Wrotham (WAAF's footprints on the ceiling!), the George & Dragon at Ightham and the Royal Star at Maidstone for the more formal occasions. 25 Sqn also used the George in West Malling in the early post war years. This leaves the pubs nearest to the airfield, the Sportsman and the Startled Saint. I'm fairly sure the Sportsman, almost inside the perimeter, had been requisitioned and shut during the war and I'm not sure exactly when the Startled Saint was built. It seems most RAF personnel avoided it (especially post war) but I'm told there was a superb collection of RAF West Malling memorablia there - sadly it closed before my Fremlins drinking days began! I've attached one of the 1949 Whitbread pub sign cards showing a startled St Leonard (his tower is on the RAF WM station badge) surrounded by aircraft.

    Startled Saint.jpg


    The above should give you a few ideas if you fancy an RAF West Malling 'in memoriam' pub crawl - not forgetting 'The Spitfire' at Kings Hill, built on the former Technical Site.

    Cheers!

  3. #183
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    Default Re: West Malling

    Hi Pete..

    Not sure when you were last in the Bull but all that remains on the ceiling are 'postage stamps' which apparantly were placed there after a pilot shot an aircraft down. They are preserved in a small glass case surrounding each one. Everything else painted over. In your book you mention 'niggers' paw print on the ceiling? Where did that info come from..or folklore? Also..If I am correct the Wheatsheaf was another local haunt for the pilots...and the Twitch Inn of course :0)

    Lee

  4. #184
    Senior Member Peter4456's Avatar
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    Default Re: West Malling

    Lee,

    I last visited the Bull at Wrotham a while ago - 1985 to be exact!

    I'm not sure where the paw print story came from - a lot of my info on the early 29 Sqn days came from Air Cdre SC Widdows who knew Guy Gibson well.

    Pete

  5. #185
    Member Row74's Avatar
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    Default Re: West Malling

    Hi Folks,

    Not forgetting the Manor house opposite Manor park, it had a bar downstairs. The twitch inn.

    Lee, I recall from somewhere about Guy Gibson's dogs paw prints being on the ceiling of the Bull. Like you said, it may just be folklore.

    Guy Gibson lived just across the field from where I live in East Malling. Clare cottage. I think he rode his motorbike down Broadwater Road which is the road that takes you right up the airfield right next to the gypsy site. It was another way in/out. We used to go that way for the air shows. Either that or through West Malling village then along Lucks Hill. I read that his wife would listen for him on his 'pop pop' when coming home.

    My grandad drank at the startled saint when he was stationed there. A popular pub most probably for the close proximity.

  6. #186
    Senior Member Peter4456's Avatar
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    Default Re: West Malling

    If anyone does embark on the RAF West Malling 'In Memoriam' pub crawl / pilgrimage, you may wish to raise a glass of Sheps to one of those who gave their lives while serving on the base.

    I've always wanted to compile an RAF West Malling Roll of Honour and this forum has finally galvanised me into action! What was almost imposible in the 80s is now easy with the Internet (CWGC, Armed Forces Memorial, etc) and so I've attached the first version of the Roll of Honour. I've only included those who were based there but you may think those killed operating or who happened to crash there should also be included (the crew of the Stirling that crashed near WM Railway Stn when trying to land at the airfield, for example).

    Feel free to add or correct - it's very much 'work in progress'!

    Peter

    RAF West Malling Roll of Honour.doc

  7. #187

    Default Re: West Malling

    Hi, my names Ian Ward and i have just joined, managed to find loads of photos and programmes from the GWAD's i will scan them up and post on here. Can anyone remember a 3 B17 formation at any of the shows, i think it was the year the diamond 9 tiger display got in a little mess before their display with some collisions on the ground.

  8. #188
    Senior Member Peter4456's Avatar
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    Default Re: West Malling

    A recent Ebay purchase of mine - the souvenir programme from the 1955 RAF West Malling 'At Home' day. This was probably the airfield's post war hey day - four squadrons of Meteors; 25, 85, 153 & 500

    Looking at the plan, it's interesting that the very narrow Teston Road (shown as 'The Startled Saint entrance' was used as an entrance / exit - it must have been chaos!

    The flying programme looks superb - formation take offs and stream landings by the West Malling Wing and a solo Short Sunderland!

    WM Prog 1955 (1).jpgWM Prog 1955 (2).jpgWM Prog 1955 (3).jpg

  9. #189
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    Default Re: West Malling

    [QUOTE=Sqiure of Logan;91780]Hi Jules169,
    i was here from 16/3/55 to 18/9/57 and was on GCA radar on the far side of the runway. there were hopbines on the edge of the airfield and at the end of the runway there was a field of strawberries, perhaps some apple trees. i remember the strawberries as, i think, 1956 there was an AOC's inspection and all planes were scrambled. two take off high followed by two take off low. a nightfighter had a 'problem' and with engines screaming about 3metres high went into the strawberry field, where a line of pickers were killed and the farmer had his head decapitated by a wing. the pilot was thrown out and the navigator was killed in the cockpit. i was standing by the radar unit about 20 metres from the runway. what tall trees i remember were more over the married quarters. hope this helps
    [ i recently March 2012 came across a map of the Camp buildings and runway. i have updated this map, origin unknown, to show where the navigational aid AN/CPN4 GCA was located. interestingly the rest room and stores are still standing. the 4 nissen huts would have long gone. that area was really my life at West Malling since we were not on the 'office' side at all. which is probably why some armourer probably 85 sqdn emptied the 5 rounds still up the spout from night firing exercises. I know one went through the rest room wall!!! i also show where ground signals slept now building 50 of the Churchill Business Centre. not far away was the Sgt's mess as i have indicated in blue. indeed the Yellow cold War Standby was used quite a lot and there were trolley accs and ground crew sitting around waiting for the"OFF". the aircrew would wait in there cockpits apparently. Very Warm in Summer. i am sure some may remember the NAAFI and Airmens Mess with the phone box just inside the door - West Malling 2112, if you did it right you didnt pay!!!West Malling GCA Airfield Position C.jpgWest Malling 57C.jpg the 2 buildings on the map - did anybody else work in this GCA?? i would like to hear /QUOTE]

  10. #190
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    Default Re: West Malling

    Fantastic thread!!

    I was out and about the site this afternoon on my push-bike and with the dog, fantastic weather for it!!

    I found the fort without too much trouble, considering how old it is, it's in remarkable condition. It's also VERY small inside, I'm 6'5" and it was a bit of a squash!!






    Also had a wander about the H-blocks, and the damage visible to the buildings shown in an earlier post is still visible.





    If anyone needs help to find some of these sights, get in touch and I'd be happy to help, as I'm a resident.

    Cheers,
    Effortless.
    Last edited by Effortless; 15-03-2012 at 20:28. Reason: Additions

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