- RAF Beaulieu during the Second World War -
If you enjoy this site
please consider making a donation.
Airfields of WW2
Royal Air Force
Prisoners of War
Secrets of WWII
Women at War
Those Who Served
The Great War
How to add Memories
TWMP on Facebook
Can you Answer?
Your Family History
RAF Beaulieu was situated in the New Forest, Hampshire, approximately 2 miles west of the village of Beaulieu. Beaulieu Aerodrome opened in 1910. It was used using the First World War.
In 1940 the site was reviewed and a new airfield was built about a mile futher west with the standard A pattern concrete runways. The new airfield opened in 1942.
In March 1944 Beaulieu became USAAF Station 408 home to 365th Fighter Group of the 9th Air Force. The station was handed over to 323d Bombardment Group in July 1944 as the fighter squadrons had moved to the continent following the D-Day landings.
After the war the airfield was used for experimental flying and closed in 1955. Today the site is a heathland managed by the Forestry Commission.
Squadrons stationed here during the Second World War.
- No. 224 Squadron.
- No. 311 Squadron.
- No. 53 Squadron.
- 365th Fighter Group.
- 323d Bombardment Group.
25th September 1943 Move
October 1943 New Equipment
3rd January 1944
3rd January 1944 Return
10th Jun 1944 Emergency Landing
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Those known to have served at
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Mason Howard Jack. W/O.
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
The Wartime Memories Project is the original WW1 and WW2 commemoration website.
- To commemorate the 70th anniversary of VE Day, we are launching a new feature, Second World War Day by Day and also a new Library to allow access to records which have previously been held in our offline archive.
- Looking for help with Family History Research? Please read our Family History FAQ's
- The Wartime Memories Project is run by volunteers and this website is funded by donations from our visitors. If the information here has been helpful or you have enjoyed reaching the stories please conside making a donation, no matter how small, would be much appreciated, annually we need to raise enough funds to pay for our web hosting or this site will vanish from the web. In these difficult times current donations are falling far short of this target.If you enjoy this site
please consider making a donation.
- We are also looking for volunteers to help with the website. We currently have a huge backlog of submissions which need to be edited for display online, if you have a good standard of written English, an interest in the two World Wars and a little time to spare online we would appreciate your help. For more information please see our page on Volunteering.
Research your own Family History.
Mar 2017 - Please note we currently have a large backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site. If you have already submitted a story to the site and your UID reference number is higher than 229915, your information is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.
We are aware of the issue with missing images, this is due to the redesign of the website, images will reappear as soon as the new version of the page is completed, thank you for your patience.
We are now on Facebook. Like this page to receive our updates.
If you have a general question please post it on our Facebook page.
Wanted: Digital copies of Group photographs, Scrapbooks, Autograph books, photo albums, newspaper clippings, letters, postcards and ephemera relating to WW2. We would like to obtain digital copies of any documents or photographs relating to WW2 you may have at home.
If you have any unwanted photographs, documents or items from the First or Second World War, please do not destroy them. The Wartime Memories Project will give them a good home and ensure that they are used for educational purposes.We are also looking for copies of photos, documents and letters as well as any information on the whereabouts of individual units throughout the war. If you have any information please get in touch. World War 1 One ww1 wwII greatwar great
Did you know? We also have a section on The Great War. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.
W/O. Howard Jack Mason 405 SquadronJack Mason was my half brother and was 28 years old when I was born in 1946, which explains why, to me, he was like a second father. He trained as a pilot in Dallas Texas on Stearman biplanes, converting to Wellington and Halifax Bombers in the UK. He joined 405 Squadron in 1943 shortly after a detachment from the squadron moved from Topcliffe to Beaulieu. Initially he was with RAF Coastal Command but was transferred to Bomber Command. He was shot down by a German fighter on the night of 11th/12th of March 1943 following a raid on Stuttgart. Jack was the last member of the crew to bale out and said that he remembered looking down the fuselage through the tail gunner’s turret to see the fighter approaching. Jack hurriedly bailed out to find, rather painfully when his chute opened, that he had not done the straps up tightly enough. He managed to evade capture for 10 days and then called at a French farm house and was given food by the farmer. However, while Jack was eating, the farmer sent his son to the German fighter field to fetch the Germans. Jack later heard that the farmer, who gave him away, had been shot by the French Resistance. When Jack was captured, the German senior officer asked if he would like to meet the pilot who shot him down. Jack said he would and in fact they shook hands. Later, in Stalag Luft III, he was given the news that the fighter pilot himself had been shot down and killed. Jack said he felt really saddened by the news.
Before the war, Jack had been a panel beater, trained by my father. He must have been very good at it since he worked for Rolls Royce for a while before helping to build flying boats at the Shorts factory in Rochester. This experience was put to good use in Stalag Luft III where he made pots and pans from the Red Cross tins, which he tied round his belt and sold round the camp. He made several escape attempts and was one of the tunnel diggers. In the Great Escape, he designed and helped build the tunnel entrance in the shower room. This tunnel was later used to store escaper materials since it was decided to put all the effort into one tunnel. He also escaped from a tunnel which exited under one of the guard huts, but he got his trousers caught in the barbed wire and was approached by a sentry. Jack smiled at the man which may be the reason why he was not shot. The sentry was sent to the Russian front for not shooting him. On another occasion, he and two friends tried to get over the wire using a home-made ladder. A guard approached whereupon Jack picked up the ladder, talking all the time to the guard, and walked back to the huts. Once again he was not shot. Finally, as the Allies were advancing, Jack and two other POWs buried themselves under one of the huts, covering themselves with de-lousing powder so the guard dogs wouldn’t smell them. They stayed there for three days and emerged to find the camp empty. The Germans had marched the POWs further into Germany. Many men died on the march from that camp. Jack was in no fit state to march and his escape undoubtedly saved his life.
Jack brought back a note book which was issued to POWs by the YMCA. His daughter Terry still has that book together with Jack’s flying log book and photos. I am grateful to her for allowing me to photograph these documents. The note book makes very sobering reading, showing a bit more of what life was really like in the camp. It was clearly a far cry from the jollity shown in the Great Escape film. If the film had shown more of the reality then no doubt, it would not have been so popular. Jack said that he used to walk his friend round and round the camp to prevent him breaking down completely. I also remember that Jack had nightmares for several years afterwards.
After the war, Jack became a dental surgeon. This must have required an immense effort and determination considering his background as a panel beater. From panel beating however, he had developed a very strong hand which I recall gripped your jaw like a vice. When he was about 40, Jack started showing signs of renal failure and was likely to be discharged from hospital since it was thought there was nothing more that could be done. However, my other brother, Don, was at medical school and heard of a new treatment called dialysis. This gave him an extra three years but eventually he died aged 58. Of course we all still think of him but I consider myself so very fortunate to have had a “second father”.
The first two photos were possibly taken during training. The rest are from Jack’s note book, issued by the YMCA to POWs. The sketch by “Micky Dee” is quite moving when you consider that was what he was looking at when he drew it. Dixie Deans was highly regarded in the POW camp and became quite well known. The “Grace” poem is in Jack's handwriting, I don’t know whether or not he wrote it.Peter Mason
Available at discounted prices.
The Wartime Memories Project is a non profit organisation run by volunteers.
This website is paid for out of our own pockets, library subscriptions and from donations made by visitors. The popularity of the site means that it is far exceeding available resources.
If you are enjoying the site, please consider making a donation, however small to help with the costs of keeping the site running.
Website © Copyright MCMXCIX - MMXVII
- All Rights Reserved