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Thread: St Margarets/Swingate

  1. #1
    Member CJH's Avatar
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    Default St Margarets/Swingate

    On the cliffs just to the north of Dover lies the site of the former RFC St Margarets/Swingate, a landing ground used by the RFC before crossing the Channel to France.

    1914
    On the 13 July a detachment of No 4 Squadron arrived from Eastchurch to fly patrols over the Dover Straits, it was joined by the remainder of the squadron on the 12th August together with No 2 Squadron from Farnborough and No 3 Squadron from Netheravon who departed the next day for Amiens. On the 16th august No 4 Squadron departed for Mauberg with the detachment following in September. No 6 Squadron arrived briefly on the 6th of October from Farnborough with BE2s and Bleriot IXs before flying to Bruges on the 7th. The airfield then entered a quiet phase during which facilities at the field were improved with the construction of wooden hangars and huts.

    1915
    No 15 Squadron arrived from Hounslow on the 11th of May with an assortment of aircraft for Training and Coastal Defence. On the 23rd Jul 1915 No 9 Squadron arrived from Brooklands with various aircraft for training and Coastal Defence roles. No 6 Wing formed at Swingate on 30th August and on 3rd of October the Machine Gun School formed as a part of the wing, however itís stay was short as it was moved to Hythe on the 27th of November. No 27 Squadron arrived at Swingate on the 10th of December from Hounslow as a Scout Squadron with Martynside G100s. Two days later No 9 Squadron moved across the Channel to St Omer followed by No 15 Squadron on the 23rd.

    the airfield was used to form two reserve squadrons, one of which, No. 13 Reserve Squadron, remained to become the airfield's main training unit for the next eighteen months. The unit operated the usual diverse range of types, although Avro 504s and BE2 variants were in a majority. This reserve squadron gave birth to a number of similar units at Dover and, when it finally departed in June 1917, it changed places with No.62 Training Squadron (all Reserve Squadrons having become Training (Ex-Reserve) Squadrons) at Yatesbury. Further changes of training took place and a number of operational squadrons also passed through the airfield, on either work-up or detached to fulfil a training role.

    1916
    On the 1 March No 27 Squadron was moved to St. Omer and was replaced on the 15 April by No 49 Squadron which formed for training at Dover and defensive patrols with BE2s and RE7s.
    On 1 May in a general redistribution No 6 Wing controlled units at Dover, Shoreham, Wye, Fort Grange (Gosport) & Fort Rowner (Gosport) and on the 11th No 15 Squadron arrived from Hounslow with BE2s as a training and replacement unit, whilst also fulfilling the need for a Dover Home Defence Squadron.

    On the 15th of May 1916 No 50 Squadron, a BE2c-equipped Home Defence unit was formed at Swingate but departed to Harrietsham on 23rd October leaving Swingate Down to its growing training role.

    In August the Aircraft repair section arrived at Dover from Farnborough, but soon re-located to Folkestone on 8 September when No 6 wing moved to Barming Place, Maidstone. No 15 Squadron departed for St Omer on the 28th December

    1917
    Further expansion of facilities took place with five substantial hangars, an aircraft-repair shed and other buildings. On the 12th November No 110 Squadron, a light Bomber unit arrived at Dover but was moved on the 26th of the month to Sedgeford in Norfolk.

    1918
    By spring the airfield had become No 53 Training Depot Station with an establishment of 24 Avro 504Ks for initial training and 24 Camels for advanced training. Accidents, including running over the cliffs were common. On 12 November No 49 Squadron departed for La Bellevue France. On 22 December No 58 Squadron was mobilised at Dover, having formed at Cramlington in June, to undertake advanced training on FE2bs.

    1918
    On 10 January No 58 Squadron moved to St Omer France.
    In October the TDS became the School for Marine Operational Pilots and its aircraft establishment concentrated on DH9s.

    1919
    By February the school had closed and this airfield was no longer required. In June the cadre of No 3 Squadron arrived back at Dover from Wye and on the 24th July No 6 Wing returned to Swingate from Guston Road. On the 27th October No 3 Squadron was disbanded with No 6 Wing following on the 22nd of November.

    1920
    The airfield was closed and quickly reverted to agriculture with parts of the site retained for storage and the site, unlike many, was not completely abandoned.

    1938
    A part of the site of the former airfield became a Chain Home radar station and remained as such into the post-war period. The towers were retained after the war for civil use.

  2. #2

    Default Re: St Margarets/Swingate

    Am I right in thinking the memorials are built on the site of a hangar?

    Are both the remaining CH Towers still there or have they been taken down now?

  3. #3
    Member CJH's Avatar
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    Default Re: St Margarets/Swingate

    As far as I know the memorials are located either side of the entrance to the site and not on a hangar.

    as to the old chain home towers.....I recall (when I lived in the Dover area) that two of the the three towers dominating the skyline near Dover Castle were the wartime Chain Home radar towers (minus the cantilever platforms which had long gone) used for broadcasting TV and radio.

    Originally there were four towers with wires stretched between them to transmit radio waves and four smaller towers to the east for detection. The receiver towers were demolished after the war as was the most southerly transmitter tower and later the north mast was replaced with a similar tower with a different bracing design. During the Cold War the towers had four transmitters at their bases

    The south tower was dismantled in March 2010 to leave only 1 original chain Home tower which is I believe the only radar tower from the Battle of Britain in WWII still in use today - I am probably wrong and will get shot down for saying so.

    It's been a couple of years since I have been there and this might be old and out of date info.
    Last edited by tigger; 02-07-2012 at 07:03. Reason: removed dead link

  4. #4

    Default Re: St Margarets/Swingate

    Thanks CJH, I there are photos somewhere on the forum of the CH Towers, I really must get back to Kent one of these days as there is so much I want to look at down there.

    There is a tower near me at Stoke Holy Cross that is still in use too.

    Thanks again

  5. #5
    Senior Member PETERTHEEATER's Avatar
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    Default Re: St Margarets/Swingate

    The cross-channel guns site is just to the east too; still a lot left.

  6. #6
    Member CJH's Avatar
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    Default Re: St Margarets/Swingate

    A couple of the magazines exist as well in the St Margaret's area (along the track of the railway line) - if you know where to look - and a load of anti-aircraft positions in the fields.

    once more all falling down, unwanted, deserted, vandalised.and getting increasingly filled with rubbish.

  7. #7
    Senior Member cliveh's Avatar
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    Default Re: St Margarets/Swingate


  8. #8

    Default Re: St Margarets/Swingate

    The radio station for RAF ASH was based at Swingate in the 1990s. When Ash Closed the Americans took the site over.

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