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

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- RAF Tempsford during the Second World War -

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RAF Tempsford

   RAF Tempsford was used during the war by the SOE (Special Operations Executive). It was from here that underground agents and their supplies were flown, and dropped into enemy occupied Europe. The station was home to "Special Duties" 138 and 161 Squadrons flying Whitley, Hudson, Halifax and Stirling bombers and also Lysanders. Over 80 aircraft were lost from Tempsford during the war, with many of their crews being killed.

Gibraltar Farm Barn was built deliberately to look like a normal farm barn to fool German air-reconnaisance was where agents were supplied with their equipment and their poison pills, in case of capture. Today there are moving memorials to individual R.A.F. aircrews and S.O.E. agents inside the barn. Arround the barn memorial trees have been planted by the Czech, Norwegian and Polish underground resistance and others planted in memory of individual aircrews who never came back.

Tempsford Airfield is a private airfield and as such not open to the public. Where possible small groups of visitors may be allowed access but only by prior arrangement. Anyone wishing to visit the airfield must telephone 01767 650251 beforehand


25th Sep 1942 161 Squadron Whitley lost

23rd Oct 1942 138 Squadron Whitley lost

11th Nov 1943 

22nd Feb 1945 161 Squadron Hudson lost

21st Mar 1945 Hudson Lost

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

Those known to have served at

RAF Tempsford

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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F/O J. F. Kyle 138 Sqd.

F/O N. E. Tilly 138 Sqd.

Sgt. J. T. Breeze 138 Sqd.

Stirling LJ999 NF-Q crashed on Operation Tablejam on the 5th of March 1945.

Sgt Laurie Clark 138 Sqd.

My father died in 1960, 3 weeks after my birth and would never talk about his wartime experiences to my mother. However, this is what I have gleaned over the years:

Towards the end of the war his Stirling was shot down over the Danish coast. There was an emergency landing and repairs were made but while they were taking off, and 50ft in the air, a bomb on the aircraft went off. A saboteur has planted it while the repairs were being done. My father was hurled through the perspex nose but landed in a mixture of sea and marsh, went through minefields, but survived. (At this time he may have been helping an injured American airforce person, perhaps of African descent. He may have killed an enemy soldier at this time, too, as my Mum said he had nightmares about this)

Through friendly contacts he made it to Copenhagen and was in sight of Sweden when he fell into the hands of the Gestapo. He received the "full treatment" and was sent to Stalag 7a at Moonsburg.

My mum would say that towards the end of the war he was part of a crew whose mission was to drop spies behind enemy lines and he talked about the Caterpillar Club.

My mother died 12 years ago and I now have children of my own and I am aware that there is so much about my father that I do not know.


The Stirling was LJ999, NF-Q they took of at 23:48 on the 4th of March 1945 from Tempsford on Operation TABLEJAM 241 and headed for Denmark. On the return journey at 150 feet, over Ringkobing Fjord an explosion sent the aircraft out of control to crash in shallow water.

The crew were:

  • F/O L.G.Steven
  • Sgt J.T.Breeze
  • F/O N.E.Tilly
  • F/S J.F.Kyle
  • F/S G.M.Maude RAAF
  • Sgt W.L.Clark
  • Sgt J.H.Bloomer
The crew all survived and were taken POW, 5 of then were confined in Hospital due injuries until the Liberation.

Laurel Clark

Sgt. J. H. Bloomer 138 Sqd.

Raymond Arthur Humphriess SOE

I believe that my uncle, Raymond Arthur Humphries, flew with SOE out of Tempsford; he was a bomb aimer. Unfortunately he has recently passed away. I cannot find any record of his name but will keep trying. Thank you for a wonderful website.

Lynne Fraser

James Peck

I am trying to find a James Peck that flew in the secret missions out of Tempsford in 1943/44. He would be my Grandfather but we know nothing about him other than his name and that he flew out of Tempsford and would have died in 1943 or 1944.

I can only find one James Peck listed in the Commonwealth War records that flew in the RAF, he was a sergeant from Nova Scotia and was killed on the 20th March 1944 and is buried at Brookwood in Surrey.

Can anyone confirm if James Peck did indeed fly out of Tempsford on any secret missions?

Sarah Jackon

Sgt. Hugh Burke DFM. 218 Squadon (d.20th Sep 1942)

My father Hugh Burke was a wireless operator with 218 Sqd, flying from Gibraltar Farm, Tempsford and S.O.E, S/Ldr Dick Wilkin was the pilot.

Dick Wilkin

Dick Wilkin

Air crew group after "ops" with Hugh Burke, Dick Wilkin & crew members

Valerie Hutchinson

George Fenwick Findley 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron.

My uncle George Fenwick Findley was the last of his crew members of 218 Gold Coast Squadron. They were:
  • Bill Streeter RAF
  • Tom Mankelow RAF
  • Robert Daniel Stirling DFC, pilot RAAF
  • Paul Chase Miller RAAF
  • Lancelot Keith Gregory RAAF
  • George Seymour RNZAF

Uncle George was an air gunner. He enlisted at No2 ITS Bradfield park and trained at No2 WAGS parkes, Port Pirie, Bradfield Park, Melbourne. He travelled to England and continued his training at 11OTU, 1657CU RAF Stradishall, 1483 RAF Newmarket and joined 218 Squadron. He flew from Downham Market, Tempsford, Woolfox Lodge, and Methwold. Operations he flew were:

  • 3/10/1943 ops mining
  • 24/10/1943 ops mining Frisian islands
  • 7/11/1943 ops mining Bordeaux
  • 18/11/1943 ops Mannheim
  • 19/11/1943 ops Leverkusen
  • 22/11/1943 ops Berlin
  • 1/12/1943 Skaggerack
  • 28/1/1944 ops mining Denmark
  • 4/3/1944 special target
  • 7/3/1944 special target
  • 18/4/1944 ops mining Keil Bay
  • 20/4/1944 ops bombing Chambley
  • 22/4/1944 bombing Laon
  • 23/4/1944 ops bombing Brussels
  • 25/4/1944 ops bombing Chambley
  • 1/5/1944 ops bombing Chambley
  • 7/5/1944 ops mining La Rochelle
  • 13/5/1944 ops mining Cherbourg
  • 5/6/1944 ops special duties for D-Day
  • 17/6/1944 ops bombing Montider
  • 21/6/1944 ops mining Guernsey
  • 24/6/1944 ops bombing Rimeux
  • 23/7/1944 ops mining Brest
  • 25/8/1944 ops bombing Russelsheim
  • 29/8/1944 ops bombing Stettin
  • 31/8/1944 ops bombing
  • 10/9/1944 ops bombing le Harve
  • 14/10/1944 ops bombing Duisburg
  • 14/10/1944 ops Duisburg
  • 18/10/1944 ops bombing Bonn
  • 22/10/1944 ops bombing Neuss
  • 23/10/1944 ops bombing Essen
  • 26/10/1944 ops Leverkusen
  • 30/10/1944 ops bombing Wesseling
  • 31/10/1944 ops bombing Bottrop
The aircraft he flew in are: Wackett, Fairy Battle, Wellington, Stirling 111, Lancaster 1. He was a member of 218 squadron from 29/9/1943 to 21/10/1944 in the crew of Lancaster HA-E.

Evelyn E Hill

F/Lt. Stephen Joshua "Johnnie" Johns DFC. 115 Squadron

My father, Flight Lieutenant Johns DFC, flew 30 sorties with 115 Squadron in 1941/1942 as an air gunner including first 1000 bomber raid on Cologne. He transferred to Honeybourne as a gunnery instructor then in 1943 to SOE and 161 squadron based in Tempsford, flying 22 secret missions into France, Norway, Denmark etc.

Stephen David johns

ACW2 Altie Winifred "Johnny" Johnson

My mother, Altie Johnson was a WAAF at RAF Tempsford. She was employed as a driver taking crew out to their aircraft. She told me nothing of what went on there, although I am now discovering all about SOE operations there and have visited Gibraltar Farm Barn at Tempsford and stood on the runway there. She did tell me once that on a windy night, she saw the canvas fly up at the back of a truck and she saw persons in unusual uniforms and costume. Towards the end of 1945, she was a WAAF shorthand typist, as I believe she was by then pregnant and therefore not driving. My mother died on 11/11/1995 at 11 am which I thought was rather fitting.

Jean Carlyle-Lyon

Sgt. George Harold Allan Bicknell 161 Squadron

George Bicknell served with 161 Squadon flying from RAF Tempsford. He flew with:

  • WM Bennett
  • Tommy Pocock
  • Paddy O'Connor Redge
  • W.H. Wilson
  • George Norris
He never talked about the War. We found out later from his keepsakes in trunk after he passed away. Never told his mother or wife either. We visited Tempsford. Very moving to be there and know how these men were so brave and dedicated.

Brenda Armstrong

Ken Morgan 161 Sqdn. (d.5th Aug 1944)

Pilot Officer Ken Morgan (wireless operator) from New Zealand was assigned to 161 Squadron at Tempsford near Waterbeach. He was shot down and killed on 5th August 1944, age 21. My understanding is that they were to pick up some French resistance members but the French were late at the pickup point and their plane had to circle for a while, giving the German plane time to find them and shoot them down. Ken is buried in Huiron Churchyard, Marne, France.

David Ballantyne

Flt.Sgt. Frederick George Green 138 Squadron (d.27th Sep 1942)

Fred Green joined the R.A.F in August 1938. After training as a Wireless Operator he joined 38 Squadron at RAF Marham, he completed two operational tours before being posted to No 11 O.T.U at RAF Bassingbourne. On the 21st April 1942 he started his third tour with No 138 (Special Duty) Squadron based at RAF Tempsford.

On the 27th September 1942 while carrying out an S.O.E mission (code named Incomparable 1) to Belgium his aircraft which had been damaged by FLAK, crashed in a field in Northern France, sadly Fred and two other crew members, David Harrison Freeland the pilot, and Edmond George Hayhoe C/O pilot were killed in the crash.

Peter Green

Recomended Reading.

Available at discounted prices.

Runways to Freedom

Robert Body

The Nazi occupation of much of Western Europe in early 1940 posed many challenges for the British Secret Services. A high priority was to find an effective means of infiltrating and exfiltrating agents and, later, reliable methods for supplying the growing resistance movements with arms and ammunition. The work fell outside the normal duties of Raf squadrons so, in March 1940, RAF Tempsford in Bedfordshire became the base for No.138 (Sd) Squadron and No. 161 (Sd) Squadrons. Flying mainly by the light of the full moon, these two squadrons operated throughout the length and breadth of Western Europe, delivering agents and supplies. Without the agents the secret services would have been hamstrung, and without the supplies the resistance movements would have been unable to participate in the armed struggle. By the end of the war, the Squadrons had, between them, lost in excess of 600 men. This Is Their Story.
More information on:

Runways to Freedom


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