627 Squadron in retirement

 

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At First Sight
Airfields



RAF Oakington was a peacetime built H Block station with brick built Type A and B hangars, in the occupation of No. 7 Squadron Lancasters of Path Finder Force.

627 Squadron arrived on formation in November 1943 and occupied dispersal pans in the North West corner and one wartime built B1 hangar for maintenance. “A” Flight had a fairly protected area bounded by hedges and trees, while “B” Flight dispersals were at the end of Runway 100/280, in open country.

I have suspicion that this was due to a slight seniority as between Flight Sergeants. When 627 Squadron was detached to 5 Group the dispersals were occupied by 571 Squadron, also Mosquitoes of LNSF, and 1409 Meteorological Flight from Wyton.


The airfield occupied the entire area of land between the villages of Oakington with Westwick and Long Stanton All Saints with Long Stanton St. Michael, villages which had, prior to the construction of the airfield, been connected by a road, but this was absorbed into the perimeter track isolating the two communities and causing a long detour for the Long Stanton residents wishing to go to Cambridge, the nearest large town.

All station buildings, both technical and domestic were on the Long Stanton side, i.e. North of the runways and the East side of the airfield was bounded by the railway line running from Cambridge to St. Ives.

After WWII Oakington was transferred to the Army and is currently occupied as the base of the Royal Highland Fusiliers.


RAF Woodhall Spa, approximately three miles South of the small Lincolnshire town of that name, was constructed in 1941 as a satellite to RAF Coningsby and was a dispersed airfield with a number of domestic sites scattered over a fairly wide area ofTattershall Thorpe, a village south of the actual airfield.

On arrival of 627 Squadron in April 1944 both air and ground crews occupied a newly completed extension site (No. 5) on farmland just east of the main Coningsby to Woodhall Road, using existing messes in a wooded site immediately adjacent to the main road.

All were Nissen or brick and corrugated asbestos “temporary” buildings, but a large portion of No. 1 Domestic site remains extant and is in the process of rebuilding as a museum of Woodhall Spa.


The Squadron occupied the North West corner of the airfield with two hangars (a T2 for maintenance and a B1 for aircraft storage). Aircraft were dispersed three per pan on a total of six pans, with remaining aircraft on hangar aprons when necessary.

This was done to keep the Mosquitoes in close proximity, there being a severe shortage of highly experienced ground crews. Ancillary trades had office and workshops at rear of the maintenance hangar, making the Squadron almost self-contained.

When, in early 1945 the H2S Training & Development Flight was formed with extra Mosquitoes and two Lancasters, four extra pans were occupied on the inside of the perimeter track, but still in the North West corner.

The remainder of the airfield was absorbed by 617 Squadron who, at that time operated modified Lancasters dropping 12,000lb and 22,000lb “Tallboy” and “Grandslam” bombs. The ex 627 area is currently occupied by Tornado Propulsion Flight, maintaining Coningsby’s Tornado Engines.


Photo to come

Oakington - 31 January 1944

Although the Squadron was formed in November 1943 it was not until about the time this photo was taken that all air and ground crews had been posted in to complete the unit. Even so several people were on leave and some, known to have formed the Squadron, claimed to have had 'flu' at the time this was taken, so there are some faces missing, including that of the writer. The majority of the faces have been identified but ground crew were normally known to each other by first names only and records of ground personnel were not retained, hence large gaps in the list of names.

Back Row L to R: 1. Les Seagrave, 2. Tony Downs, 3. Jack Ratcliffe, 5. Cpl Little, 7. Chapman, 9. Wally Walton, 16 Charlie Cope, 17. Tom Mills, 22. Joe Kingsley,
                              38. 'Lofty' Parsons

Standing: 5. Stan Tyrer, 13. Jack Spinach, 14. Armourer Sgt, 15. Sgt Hirons, 17. Sgt Porter, 18. F/S Garton, 19. F/O Foxcroft, 20. P/O Wilmott, 21. W/O Palmer
                 22. Sgt Maxwell, 23. F/S Taylor, 24. F/S Dobson, 25. Sgt Corrigan, 26. Jim Elton, 28. Junior, 29, Jim Wookey, 32. Cpl Flatt, 33. Cpl Ludlow, 34. Cpl Blake
Sitting: 2. F/Lt Steere DFM, 3. F/O Gale RAAF, 4. F/O Griffiths RCAF, F/O Heath DFM RAAF,  6. F/O Saint-Smith DFM RAAF, 7. F/O Gribbin DFM,  8. F/O Lewis
              9. F/Lt Peck DFC, 10, F/O R.F. Davies, 11. F/O Kingham, 12. S/L Saunderson, 13. S/L Nelles, 14. W/C Elliot DSO DFC, 15. S/L Lockhart DSO DFC
              16. F/Lt DeBoos DFC RAAF, 17. F/Lt Levander, 18. F/O Boyle RAAF, 19. F/O Hickox, 20. W/O Yarema RCAF, 21. F/O Acworth, 22. F/O Hughes,
              23. F/O Boothright, 24. F/O Richards, 25. F/O Evans, 26. F/O Grey DFC RNZAF

Front: 1. F/S McCorkindale, 2. F/S Marshalsay, 3. F/S Upton, 4. F/S Ranshaw, 5. P/O Devigne, 6. F/Lt Clarkson.

Ranks stated were those held at the time photograph was takem





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