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

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- RAF Biggin Hill during the Second World War -


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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

RAF Biggin Hill



   RAF Biggin Hill was in Kent and at the heart of the Battle of Britain.

Squadrons Based at RAF Biggin Hill

  • No 32 Squadron from 4 June 1940
  • No 79 Squadron from 5 June 1940
  • 610 Squadron 10th May 1940 to 27th May 1940 & 8th July 1940 to 31 Aug 1940
  • No 79 Squadron from 27 August 1940
  • No 72 Squadron from 31 August 1940
  • No 92 Squadron from 8 September 1940
  • No 141 Squadron from 13 September to 18 September 1940
  • No 72 Squadron from 14 September 1940
  • No 74 Squadron from 15 October 1940
  • No 609 Squadron. 1941 to 1942


 

August 1939 

3rd Sept 1939 On the move

27th March 1940 On the Move

20th May 1940 Ops in France

20th July 1940 Attack


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



Those known to have served at

RAF Biggin Hill

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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Pat "Paddy" Leonard

Paddy Leonard, AC2, WAAF, as everyone knew her at RAF Biggin Hill during the Battle of Britain, was a member of the "Glamour Watch." A plotter working in the Ops Building as part of a skeleton crew, she had volunteered for the work duty the day that a 500-lb bomb came through the roof, bounced off a safe and blew up in the back room where it was redirected. Somewhat protected by the heavy plotting table under which she dove, she was not injured by the flying glass, metal and wood shards that resulted from the explosion. With the crackling of a fire heard behind them, the staff in the Ops Building quickly exited the room through the blown out windows. Because of the events of that day, two non-commissioned officers in the building later received the Military Medal. As tradition has it it was most likely also presented to them on behalf of the crew on watch that day.

Paddy Leonard spent a year at RAF Biggin Hill through the period that made the station famous. Part of that time was spent in the old vacated butcher's shop in the Pantiles, which was a temporary new home to the Ops Room plotters until other more permanent facilities could be arranged. Picked up by lorry, the WAAF personel were transported daily to and from the shop which they entered from the rear to avoid any attention to their presence there. Paddy Leonard, or Pat Carswell, as eveyone came to know her after her marriage, lived on the Island of Montreal from 1945 to 1974 when her husband took early retirement from his corporate executive job and they moved to the Rideau Lakes area about 25 miles north of Kingston, Ontario. In more than 30 years of retirement she and her husband enjoyed living by the lake, numerous trips, camping, international travel, visiting Scotland and England and touring Europe with their daughter and son-in-law who had settled in the Netherlands where he grew up.

Born in London on February 23rd, 1920 within the sound of Beau Bells, she was the granddaughter of a Irish blood but English-born London Dock Worker who she never knew and a Swedish-Finnish carpenter who learned his trade at sea. They both married English girls in London. As a switch from her ancestral background she was the daughter of a James Leonard who rose to become a member of the London Stock Exchange. She came from a very unusual background. But like her father who had served in WWI she felt it was her duty to serve in WWII. She believed that had her father had any sons, they would have done the same as did a number of her second cousins who were pilots in the RAF. She lived a happy life dying peacefully at the age of 85 on September 12th, 2005 in her home by the lake less than a month after returning from an Alaskan Cruise. She live life to the fullest and enjoyed every minute of it. May she rest in peace.

Bob Carswell



William Smith 72 Squadron

I am the Grand Daughter of William Smith (Bill), and I have been learning the stories today of his time in service in the RAF WW2, Squadron flying Spitfires from Biggin Hill. I have heard some totally mind blowing events, and I am so proud of my Granddad! I feel now, I have to try and do something for him... He has just recently lost his wife, and I would love him to know we all care, and honour him as a person/ Granddad, and a war hero, as many of you are. I would love to find out if there are any events, I could bring my Granddad to in relation to the Spitfires, or 72 Squadron of Biggin Hill. He has not managed to attend such things in the past, but I will make sure we get him there now. His ultimate dream would be to go up in a Spitfire! I have been reading that there is only 3/4 two seaters in the uk, but they are not licensed to carry paying passengers. Would anyone be able to let me know if there is any possibility that a old servent of the RAF, would be able to attend a display, or get a flight in one of these planes. I am so desperate to spark his spirit again, I would appreciate any information on where to bring him for a reunion, or see Spitfires flying again.

Lisa



Flt. Offr W. Wylton Todd Biggin Hill & Little Snoring 29th and 169th Sq

My mother is the daughter of W. Wylton Todd. Wylton was an RAF navigator who designed the memorial for the fallen 50 officers who were shot after the Great Escape. It still stands in Zagan, Poland. He was assigned to the North camp after being shot down in a Mosquito on Feb 15, 1944. The pilot was the famous Commander "Jumbo" Gracie, who unfortunately went down with the plane in Hannover. Cmdr. Gracie was an older, decorated pilot who was instrumental in organizing flight standards for pilots in Malta and North Africa. Wylton was older too, but lied about his age so that he could join the war effort. He was 38 by the time he was shot down. Wylton was a piano virtuoso. He designed, wrote and produced several of the musicals during his capture (i.e., Messalina, Paulina Panic). He worked with Rupert Davies, Peter Butterworth, Talbot Rothwell and a few others. They signed his war log. I'm certain that theater kept him and many others sane. He was not only a great musician, he was already a successful architect in London before the war. King Edward honored him with recognition at the last Levee in 1936. A remarkable distinction for the young professional. Since he was first held in Dulag Luft, then brought to SL3, he would have arrived just before the great escape on March 25. My mother maintains that he told her that he worked on the tunnels and escape efforts. His drafting abilities and keen eye probably made him a good forger or mapmaker. After the war, Wylton was commissioned to design a memorial at Biggin Hill, from which most of the Battle of Britain pilots tenaciously defended their country. He stayed in the UK to rebuild London. He also designed a palace for a Maharaja in India, Redesigned The Elms in London, a mansion in Mexico and designed plans for a massive luxury complex for Arthur Vining Davis in Eleuthera, Bahamas. Unfortunately it never came to fruition because of political complications. He died shortly afterwards from a freak accident in 1961. I never met him, but have learned quite a bit about this amazing man. I'm currently working on research about his activities in the North camp theater. If anyone knows more about him or particular info about the North camp theater I would appreciate it.

Peter Hynes



Stanley Andrew Farrow

My grandad was at Biggin Hill 1940 to 45. His name was Stanley Andrew Farrow born 1 Aug 1912. I have no photos of my grandad in his uniform or know anything about his RAF life only what my mum and uncle have told me. He would have been 100 this year had he still been with us. I would really like to find out more.

Stacey Hill



Pte. Alfred Doyle Middlesex Regiment

I'm attempting to write the biography of my grandfather, Alfred Doyle who served in the Middlesex Regiment during the Second World War, mainly on anti-aircraft. He served in several places, including Biggin Hill. Later he was part of the occupying amry in Germany in a place called Nurenburg. I'm wondering if anyone has any idea how I can get his war record or a record of the regimental diary?

Editor's note: Please see our Family History FAQ's for details on how to obtain his service record, regimental war diaries are held in the National Archives.

Byron Perry



Charles Appleby

Charles Appleby served as Maintenance Crew at Raf Biggin Hill.




F/O John McKinley Casrwell

This is a photo of Flying Officer John McKinley Carswell, RAF, and Assistant Section Officer Pat Leonard, WAAF taken by the RCAF for circulation in Canadian Newspapers to announce their upcoming marriage in August 1942.

Bob Casrwell



S. E. Chandelr

Flight Sergeant S.E Chandler served as a medic at RAF Biggin Hill




Maurice Edward Hunt 202 Squadron

My Dad served with the RCAF, RAF and USAAF during WWII. His name was Maurice Edward Hunt. He was trained in Regina at the #15 Efts and then in York or Yorktown canada where he was awarded his wings.

It depresses me to come to the conclusion that he is part of the Lost Legion. He was born October 29, 1920 in Lancaster, Washington, USA. I have no idea if he used an assumed name while in the RCAF. I think not as someone did find some personell cards in his name.

He was shot down twice, flew Night Fighters and Spitfires among other aircraft. He had many ribbons which he wore on his USAF uniform but they have vanished. He was discharged from the RAF in 1943. He served as a waist gunner with the USAAF for the rest of the war. I have two photographs of him wearing an american uniform with RAF wings. Also in his air cadet uniform and two newspaper articles on about his fourth oak leaf cluster while serving as a gunner on an B-17 an another about his being shotdown. was with the 202 squadron, 11 group, Bigin Hill. Also that he trained to fly spitfires at Grangemouth, Scotland. Also this is copied from his records: 30 Dec 40 to 3 Mar 43 RCAF & RAF Service Plt Sq Leader, 122 Aerial Missions; 320 Combat Hrs. 5 En Planes shotdown.

Dayna Hunt



ASO. Pat Leonard

This is a photo of Flying Officer John McKinley Carswell, RAF, and Assistant Section Officer Pat Leonard, WAAF taken by the RCAF for circulation in Canadian Newspapers to announce their upcoming marriage in August 1942.

One of my mother s favourite stories of the situation at Biggin Hill was the day that she and her best friend in the WAAF ran for a bunker during one of the bombings. Normally, they found themselves in a bomb shelter with hot sweating bodies, many of which had not taken a bath in a few days and in very cramped quarters. During this one particular raid they found themselves alone in a bunker and found it to be such a refreshing change. When the bombing was over, they left the bomb shelter only to read a sign they previously missed which said, "Do Not Use, Unexploded Bomb."

Bob Casrwell



F/Sgt. Frederick William Reynolds RAF Biggin Hill

My father served in the RAF during WWII. He was a F/Sgt and I think he was stationed at Biggin Hill. He was the Squadron boxer.

Colin Reynolds



LAC John "Jock" Robertson RAF Biggin Hill

My grandfather John "Jock" Robertson, LAC, served at Biggin Hill.

Robertson







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