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

The Wartime Memories Project

- RAF Catterick during the Second World War -

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RAF Catterick


Catterick was a 1st World War Royal Flying Corps Airfield and was one of first military airfields in the world opening in 1914. Training pilots and assisting in the defence of North East England. On formation of the Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918 it became RAF Catterick and 49 Training Depot Station.

RAF Catterick was largely rebuilt in 1935 under the expansion programme with many of the 1920's buildings being cleared away (except the original watch office which still stands). Most of the buildings there today date from this period.

In September 1939 Catterick became a Fighter Sector Station in 13 Group Fighter Command. 609 "White Rose" Squadron, was one of the 9 squadrons of the RAF equipped to fly the famous Spitfire at the out break of war in September 1939. The runway at Catterick was so close to the A1 that traffic had to be stopped to allow Spitfires to take off. During WW2 there were decoy sites protecting this airfield at Low Moor and Birkby

The Sector Ops. Block was replaced in 1943 with a protected operations block identical to those built at other Fighter Sector Airfields.

Until recently Catterick was the headquarters of the RAF Regiment and served as the RAF Fire Service Training School. It is now an Army establishment and the runway is used only for gliding.

Squadrons based at Catterick during the Second World War:

  • No. 27 Squadron formed at Catterick on 11th Oct 1927, departed 8th Oct 1939.
  • No. 219 Squadron. 4th Oct 1939 to 12 Oct 1940 & 25 Apr 1943 14 May 1945
  • No. 609 Squadron from Sept 1939.
  • No. 17 Squadron 31st Aug 1941 to November 1941.


8th Oct 1939 Move

April 1940 Re-equipped with Spitfires

28th April 1940 Change of Duty

28th May 1940 Patrols

28th July 1940 Move

9th Aug 1940 Defence

15th Aug 1940 Eagle Day

3rd Sept 1940 In Action

3rd September 1940 Battle of Britain

7th January 1941 New night-fighter Squadron formed  In the first World War 68 Squadron was the RFC identity given to No.2 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps. However that designation was discontinued in February 1918.

A new No. 68 Squadron was formed at Catterick on 7 January 1941 as a night-fighter Squadron equipped with the Blenheim 1f. The Blenheims carried airborne interception radar, known as A.I. Most of the the pilots were from single-engine fighter squadrons and needed to go through a twin-engine conversion course. The first A.I. operators were mostly ex-gunners who were trained on the equipment by the Squadron mainly by the ground 'boffins'. At this time there were no operational training units for night-fighter crews, and no A.I. training school for operators (until No.3 Radio School was opened at Prestwick in July 1941). Consequently the initial training period for 68 Squadron was lengthy and it did not become operational until 7 April 1941.

 More info.

7th January 1941 New night-fighter Squadron formed

23rd February 1941 Move

23rd April 1941 Operational

12th May 1941 Hampden Lost

28th July 1941 On the Move

31st August 1941 Preparation for overseas service

16th July 1942 Relocated

20th November 1942 On the Move

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

Those known to have served at

RAF Catterick

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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Chief Fire Officer Dennis Healy "Blacky" Blackshaw

I had a grandad,who passed away 10 years ago, who was based at Catterick during 1946, I think thats what he told me. He was chief fire officer, nickname Blacky. I`m his grandson who misses him everyday. I used to hear his stories about the RAF & just wondered if there`s anyone out there who knew him or got any pics that I could have. Please, I miss him so much. His name was Dennis Blackshaw, lived near Cromer in Norfolk. He had three daughters, Mags, Dianne, Christine & his wife was Ruby.

Michael Aldridge

PO Geoffrey Robert Butcher 68 Squadron (d.18th May 1941)

My Great-Uncle, Geoff Butcher, was a Pilot Officer with 68 Squadron during WW2. Before the war he won a scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford; after the outbreak of war he was transferred to Christ Church, Oxford. In July 1940 he volunteered for the RAF, a year before finishing his studies. After training he became a Sergeant Pilot, and at the beginning of 1941 he got his commission as a Pilot Officer. The squadron was based at Catterick during training as a night-fighter squadron. The 1st CO was Spn Ldr DL Clackson, but later replaced by Wg. Cdr Max Aitken, DFC. In April 1941, 68 squadron was made operational and moved to High Ercall Airfield, Staffs. The first casualties occured when Geoff and Sgt. Irwin Harold Wiskar (Czech) were killed on the night of the 17/18 May 1941. They were engaged in local night flying practice in their Bristol Blenheim L8675 when the aircraft stalled at low altitude. Six of their squadron brothers acted as pall-bearers at their funeral. Geoff is buried at Wombridge Church Yard.

Rebecca Farr

John Shipman 41 Squadron

My father, John Shipman, flew Spitfires from Catterick in 41 Squadron. His personal recollections are recorded in his book "One of the Few"

John Shipman

Stan Yates Sqdn 2816 RAF Catterick

I served in Sqdn 2816 at Catterick Camp in 1940. Does anyone remember an explosion there at the railway station round that time?

Stan Yates

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