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

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- RAF Benson during the Second World War -

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RAF Benson

   RAF Benson is situated in Oxfordshire, during world war two it was home to the Mosquitos of the PRU.

Today RAF Benson is still in use as a front line support helicopter base in Joint Helicopter Command.

Squadrons stationed at RAF Benson during the Second World War.

  • 540 Squadron.


9th Sept 1939 

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

8th April 1940 Training

19th January 1941 Reconnaissance Spitfire arrives in Malta

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

Those known to have served at

RAF Benson

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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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Squadron Leader Douglas Montague Foreman DFC 7 Squadron (d.13th Jan 1943)

I am posting this message on your web site in the hope that someone can tell me about a fatal crash of Squadron Leader Foreman, DFC, who was killed at RAF Benson on 13th January 1943. He was a friend of my father, the late Flight Lieutenant A Seymour, who lost his life in November 1943 with 7 Squadron. I think he lived at Chelmsford before the war.

Douglas Seymour

Sqd.Ldr Pieter Robert Marie van der Heijden 541 Squadron

My Uncle, Squadron Leader Pieter Robert Marie van der Heijden was stationed at RAF Benson with the 541 Sqadron from 28/7/1940 until he was killed on a photo rec mission off the coast of Holland, year unknown. I would very much like to hear from anyone who knew my Uncle Pieter and any details of his fateful mission. I understand he had the reputation of being somewhat of a "maverick" amongst his conteporaires and was shot down whilst flying a mosquito on recon, as a result of low flying over his homeland.

Also anyone who may have known his younger brother, Johanus or "Johnnie" who was killed after the war, when his plane blew up during radar testing in July 1945

J.P.M. van der Heijden

Peter Devonish

My Uncle Peter Devonish was based at RAF Benson during the second world war, connected to the Photo Recognisance Unit.

Paul Edwards

Francis John "Mitch" Mitchell 103 Sqd.

My father Francis Mitchell flew from Benson in a Hawker Hind (I think) on Sept 2nd 1939. He was then based near Reims. My mother cycled from Abingdon where she lived as she could see the aircraft gathering but was too late to see him go. This was her birthday. Some kind guard told her the plane overhead that waggled its wings at her was her fiancé but when very ill in the year 2000, he told us that it had not been him.

From there at some stage he decided to train as a pilot and travelled out to Canada on the Queen Mary where he enjoyed the flying, canoeing and horse riding. On his return to the UK he joined 550 squadron and served 2 tours. In one of his squadrons Bob Nicholson was part of his crew. He was a quiet rather shy man with an engaging smile and real warmth and kindness. If anyone has any information about his wartime years all his family would love to hear more.

Jill Hudson

Cpl. Lena "Titch" Crawford

At the age of 21 years I was called up to join the WRAF. I had to report to Somerset House in London. I was billeted in RAF Benson in Oxford. I worked in the Laundry and in the canteen. I met Paddy Finnegan (The Legless Pilot) and Vera Lynn “the forces Sweetheart”. She came to RAF Benson to entertain the troops by singing “The white cliffs of Dover”. After she had entertained the troops she came and had tea with me and my colleagues. She also took a photograph of us all. I was a corporal in the RAF and my men used to call me “Titch”. I served between 1940 and 1944.

I was often moved about, when in the RAF, sometimes I was in the laundry doing the airmen’s bundles and sometimes I was in the canteen. I still have a scar on my hand, where I opened hundreds of tins of corned beef! I didn’t mind and during the War you just had to get on with it and do as you were told. I also packed the parachutes. This was obviously a very important job, because if you got it wrong, lives depended on it!

Lena Harrison

Anthony Peter Hollick

My father, Anthony Peter Hollick, served in the RAF, joining as I recall in 1933. He flew Hawker Harts in the Middle East prior to the war. During the first part of the war he was in Bomber Command flying Stirlings, but later flew PRU Mosquito's based at RAF Benson.

Before he died he managed to throw away most of his memorabilia, including his logbooks which I really wanted to inherit. Does anyone remember him or have any information about him?

Geoff Hollick

Thomas Daniel Durrant RAF Benson

My father was the sole survivor of a Wellington that crashed near Oxford when returning from an operation. He was stationed at RAF Benson and was part of an OTU. The crash occurred in 1941 and he was admitted to the Radcliff Hospital in Oxford. He was the observer/navigator.


Could it possibly be 10 OTU Whitley P4999, crashed Wooton Road, Abingdon on 23rd March 1941? (Alan)

D. Durrant

LAC George "Ginge" Clegg Attached to PRU wing, Benson

I had become hooked on flying as a cadet in the Manchester University Air Squadron in 1942. I enlisted in the RAFVR while aged 17 and was on deferred service until I attained 18. One of my early moves was to RAF Benson, the Photo Recce Unit (PRU) HQ, commanded by Air Commodore John N Boothman, who had won the Schneider trophy for Britain before the war. I was always trying to commence flying, but this was an operational unit with Spitfires and Mosquitos, so the opportunities were few. After just missing a test flight in a Mosquito during which the pilot and observer were killed, my next opportunity was a trip in a Lockheed Hudson with the C.O., AC Boothman. I guess my eagerness persuaded him to take me. It turned out to be a recce off the Dutch coast to locate shore batteries. These were mapped by the 2nd pilot and located by drawing fire. We were perhaps a mile off shore. The CO would do a steep turn (about 50 feet above the waves) to throw of the predicted next shot from the batteries. It was all very exciting. After about 30 minutes and having covered 100 miles of coast, without being hit, we returned to base. My next near meeting with John Boothman, now an AVM, was at Manston, Kent the wartime FIDO station. While landing a Spitfire across the runway, the Fido pipe caused the nose to go down enough for the prop to hit the ground. The props on Spits were wooden, covered by a black coating, and shattered easily so that no damage to the engine occurred. After flying finished that evening I walked out to the site of my inadvertent accident. To my surprise I found the remains of two shattered props. I learned that AVM Boothman was the the pilot of the other Spitfire, having landed later than I.

George Clegg

SAC. William Gill 210 Squadron

RAF Blida

Bill Gill was my father, he was Assigned to Coastal Command 210 Squadron, then off to 1PRU and 540 Squadron at Station Benson in the early days of Photo Reconnaissance. He was posted after 1PDC to 156 Maintenance Unit, Northwest Africa Aircraft Repair Unit as a Senior Aircraftsman. I was 14yrs when he passed in May 1969 and I am now tracing his WWII experiences. His War Record states he was a Commercial Photographer in Civilian Life, Glasgow, Scotland.

Kenneth J. Gill

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