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RAF Abingdon in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- RAF Abingdon during the Second World War -

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RAF Abingdon


   RAF Abingdon opened in 1932 and was used as a heavy bomber training unit. After the war it was handed over to RAF Transport Command and played a role in the Berlin Airlift

Today the site is in Oxfordshire and is known as Dalton Barracks and is home to The Royal Logistic Corps, 612 Volunteer Gliding School

Squadrons stationed here during the Second World War.
  • No. 15 Squadron. to Sep 1939
  • No.10 O.T.U



17th Sept 1939 On the move  On 7th September 1939 No.63 Squadron moved to RAF Abingdon, but moved again to nearby RAF Benson ten days later where it served as an elementary flying training unit.

17th Sept 1939 On the move

17th Sep 1940 10 OTU Whitley lost

26th Jun 1942 10 Squadron Whitley lost

If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

Those known to have served at

RAF Abingdon

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Bennett Bert. Flt Sgt
  • Keen CGM, DFM.. Geoffrey Frank. Sqn Ldr.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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There are 1 pages in our library tagged RAF Abingdon

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Sqn Ldr. Geoffrey Frank "Chuffo" Keen CGM, DFM. 51 Sqn.

Geoffrey Frank Keen was born in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, on 26th March 1916, the youngest of five children, with a brother Jack and three sisters Doris, Gwen and Mary, born to Minnie and Percy Keen. He was never to meet his father, he was killed in action near Messines Ridge in Flanders on 4th June 1917.

At Dr. Challoners Grammar School, Amersham, he was an enthusiastic sportsman and represented the school at both cricket and football. On leaving school he served an apprenticeship in printing, working for the company which produced the local newspaper. His enthusiasm for sport continued after he left school and became an important part of his life. He and his brother Jack both played for the Town Club, Chesham United, and Geoffrey had trials for both Stoke City and Queens Park Rangers.

On the outbreak of war the two brothers decided to join the RAF and in October 1940 Geoffrey was posted to Yatesbury for basic training then on to Penrhos for Bombing and Gunnery School and finally to Abingdon OTU for wireless training before the finished article was posted to his first operational base as wireless operator/air gunner Sergeant Keen at Dishforth and 51 Squadron, equipped with Whitleys. His log book entries include:

1941, Kiel-could not reach target,- bombed Boulogne Docks instead, Bremen, Mannheim, Hanover, Kiel-'pranged' on drome, Cologne, Dortmund, Duisburg. Wihelmshaven, Brest, Dunkirk, Emden, Frankfurt-baled out East Dereham, Berlin, Stuttgart, Nuremberg,

1942, Cologne(1000 bombers), Essen(1000 bombers), Dusseldorf.

He completed his first tour (30 ops) in November 1941 and was posted to Abingdon No.10 OTU in December. In January 1942 he was cited in the London Gazette as follows:

Distinguished Flying Medal (D.F.M.) London Gazette 30.1.42. Sergeant, No. 51 Squadron, the recommendation states: 'During the many sorties in which this wireless operator has participated, some of which have been at extreme range, he has displayed high qualities of courage and determination. His technical skill is of a high order and on one occasion, after a raid on Stuttgart, his steadiness in obtaining wireless aid was solely responsible for the return of his aircraft after bearings had been completely lost.'

Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Keen became a founder member of 427 Squadron as the wireless operator to Wing Commander Dudley Burnside when he became the squadrons C/O and it was on only their seventh operation together that the crews abilities were tested to the limit and for which four of them were decorated, including Geoffrey as cited below:

Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (C.G.M.) London Gazette 23. 4. 43 Flight Sergeant D.F.M., No.427 (Lion) Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force. On the night of 12th March 1943, this airman was the wireless operator of an aircraft detailed to attack Essen. Whilst over the target area the aircraft was hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire. The navigator was killed instantaneously. Flight Sergeant Keen, who was in the astro-dome, had his right foot blown off and received cuts to both legs. Disregarding his wounds, Flight Sergeant Keen regained his seat in the wireless cabin. For over two hours he laboured to repair the damaged apparatus. He could not speak to other members of the crew owing to damage to the inter-communication apparatus. Another airman spoke to him, however, on at least a dozen occasions and found him still conscious and working at his self-imposed task of directing the manipulation of various installations. He also offered assistance in navigating the aircraft and actually managed to drag himself on two occasions to the navigator's compartment to obtain essential information necessary for the aircraft's safe return. His courage and fortitude in such circumstances were of the highest order

The recommendation states: 'I consider this N.C.O.'s superb display of courage and devotion to duty whilst seriously wounded fully merits the award of the Victoria Cross' (Wing Commander D. H. Burnside, Commanding Officer, RCAF Station, Middleton St. George).

'This case is considered to be an outstanding example of coolness and tenacity of purpose on the part of this N.C.O. when seriously wounded, and demanding courage of the highest order-an award of the Victoria Cross is recommended (Air Officer Commanding 6 Group, Air Vice Marshall G.E. Brookes CB OBE )

`As was only fitting, the very fine display of courage and determination shown by all members of the crew was subsequently recognised by awards. Burnside received a Bar to his DFC, Hayhurst and Ross the DFC, and Keen, who already had the DFM, the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.' (RCAF Overseas 1944)

As a result of his wounds part of his right foot was amputated but after a period of three months convalescence he returned to the squadron where he remained for the duration of the war, finishing as Squadron Leader responsible for training of Group 6 wireless operators. Upon returning to civilian life he trained as a teacher before marrying Jose Barnes, the girl he met after a visit to the cinema in Oxford while training at Abingdon. In 1948 they moved to his home town Chesham, where he was to become Assistant Head and eventually Headmaster of the local village school of St Leonards in Buckinghamshire.

Always a keen sportsman and in spite of the lack of half a foot he continued to play football and cricket not only at club level for Chesham United FC and Chesham CC but also at county level winning several winners medals in the process. When his playing days were over he took up umpiring, golf and bowls. Heaven knows how he found the time to look after the garden.

Martin Keen

Flt Sgt Bert Bennett

Flight Sergeant Bennett was my uncle who I only saw a photograph of. He was my mother's brother and all I know was he was killed in a crash landing near Abingdon returning I believe from a mission over France.

I am not even sure of his first name it was either Bert or Reg, my Mother is long dead so I have no further details other than a childhood memory.

Terry Smith

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