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Thread: Gravesend

  1. #51

    Default Re: Gravesend

    This week's Kent on Sunday contains an article confirming that a new memorial is to be unveiled on the village green at Westbere near Canterbury.

    It is in memory of two Pilots killed during the Battle of Britain over the village. The pilots were Pilot Officer J W Bland and Flying Officer F Gruszka.

    The unveiling will take place at 1.30 on 18 August, within minutes of the of the reported times of death on the same day 70 years earlier.

    This is particularly of interest as PO Bland was killed whilst stationed at Gravesend and his name is included on the memorial. Even more significant is that he is buried in Gravesend Cemetery.

  2. #52
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    Default Re: RAF Gravesend

    Hi All
    This is my first step into the world of Gravesend Airfield but I might be able to be of some use. I've been reading your postings on this subject for the last few weeks to see if there's anyone out there who could help me with a Heritage Lottery Oral History funded project I'm just starting. These are the main points of what we're trying to do:

    'Games and Planes
    Oral History Project
    Memories and stories of living, working and growing up in Westcourt, Riverview and the Gravesend Airfield areas in the 1940s.
    Based at St. Aidan’s Church, St. Aidan’s Way, Gravesend, Kent this is a two year project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, aimed at collecting people’s memories of the Westcourt and former Gravesend Airfield areas from 1940 to 1950.
    All memories and stories are valued: we want to hear from anyone and everyone who has recollections and stories of either growing up in the area, working here, (at the airfield or post-war at Essex Aero), or living in the area during the 1940s, both during the war and during the first five years of peace.
    This was a formative period in the area’s development and we would like to make contact with all those who remember life here during WWII and the five years that followed, be they pilots, residents, ground crew or children. We want to hear all your recollections and stories, however small or trivial they may seem to you.
    We’re keen to gather memories from those who attended Westcourt School at the time and we’re especially interested in finding out about all the games played then, both in and outside school.
    We’re also particularly interested in collecting photographs that may not have been widely seen before, either of family, friends or of the Westcourt / Airfield area generally.'
    Hope that this introduction makes sense and that as many people as possible will offer their memories. The project may still take a few weeks to get into full swing as we have to train volunteer interviewers in order that they're able to go out and record memories as fully as possible. If any of you would be interested in getting involved in the project as an interviewer please say and we'll send you more details.

    Many thanks to you all in advance - John Woodhead Project Manager

  3. #53
    Member hunterxf382's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Gravesend

    Thought this photo may be of interest relating to Gravesend:



    It comes from my late grandfather's collection, and is genuinely signed by Henri Mignet himself! He flew across from France in the Flying Flea and demonstrated it at Gravesend Airport in 1935...

  4. #54
    SuperMod Peter Kirk's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Gravesend

    Also it is an excellent photo of Dover before wartime additions. The zig-zag path to the beach shows up very well.

  5. #55
    SuperMod Peter Kirk's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Gravesend

    Had a walk around Shorne Country park a few weeks ago and only just got my digital film developed. The wife said there was some brick and concrete in the general area to the east of what was called Laughing Water (Now Inn on the Lake).
    Recent felling of trees revealed an air raid shelter which has had recent restoration work to the entrance. Although the poster attached said it was part of RAF Gravesend I can't confirm this and as the the area was once a quarry it might have been for quarry workers.

    Gravesend ARS May 2011.jpgGravesend Shorne poster.jpg

  6. #56
    Senior Member PETERTHEEATER's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Gravesend

    Not quite sure that I understand the sign. Are they saying that homeless families moved into the shelter in Image 1?

  7. #57

    Default Re: RAF Gravesend

    Quote Originally Posted by PETERTHEEATER View Post
    Not quite sure that I understand the sign. Are they saying that homeless families moved into the shelter in Image 1?
    No, the homeless families moved into the former RAF camp which largely consisted of Nissan huts. The shelters were constructed as part of the original camp for the RAF personnel.

    Whilst there was a clay quarry in this area until the 1960's this shelter was part of one of the RAF camps. There were five in all. The remains of 3 were, I believe, destroyed with the construction of the high speed rail link but this and another almost opposite on the other side of the A2 in Ashenbank woods remain. Not only are the shelters visible but also foundations of some of the other buildings.

    There are two other shelters near this one. One has also been preserved and is now a haven for bats. The other is very close to the one shown in the photo but is fenced off so I presume this falls within the land owned by the Inn on the Lake. This looks to be in pretty bad repair.

    I believe the shelters were built not primarily for the purpose of protection from air raids but from the danger of falling shrapnel from a number of anti aircraft guns that were located nearby.

  8. #58

    Default Re: RAF Gravesend

    Does anyone have any info regarding the airfield defences of RAF Gravesend?

    In the site plan there is no mention of any Battle HQ, Pickett Hamilton Forts etc although it does mention 1 anti aircarft gun position.

    Walking around the area now there are no signs of pillboxes.

    Considering this was an active fighter station I find it hard to believe that it was so lightly defended especially when you consider that all the other airfields in the County did have such defences.

    Gravesend cannot be considered a temporary airfield so is there any an explanation? I know Pipe mines were present but
    why didn't it have a Battle HQ etc.

    Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  9. #59
    Senior Member PETERTHEEATER's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Gravesend

    There was a HAA site at Denton to the north and Northumberland Bottom to the southwest and a number on the eastern approaches.

    The airfield would have had various light AA defences such as MGs, 20mm and even 40mm guns but the heavy AA would have been that sited for the defence of London to the E, SE and S.

    I think that the reason there was no BHQ and airfield defence PBs is because Gravesend was just inside the 'Stop Line' of London defence fortifications manned by the military.

  10. #60

    Default Re: RAF Gravesend

    A few that I took on 27 August 2009

    These are the two buildings mentioned earlier in the thread and highlighted on the map by Stevo



    Peri track / taxiway


    Standby Set House


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