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

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- RAF Manston during the Second World War -


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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

RAF Manston



27th March 1940 On the Move

10th May 1940 Aircraft Lost

Aug 1940 Air-Sea Rescue

14th June 1942 Sorties over France

1st January 1941 Detachments

23rd June 1941 On the Move

22nd July 1941 Another Move

20th Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost

Oct 1941 Low Level Flights

30th Nov 1941 Move

17th Jan 1942 Another Move

6th Aug 1942 

27th Dec 1942 Move to the Mediterranean

14th May 1943 On the move

July 1943 

28th Dec 1943 Moved and re-equipped

14th Feb 1944 V1 flying bomb interception

6th Oct 1944 Moves


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



Those known to have served at

RAF Manston

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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WO. James Watson "Jock" Clelland

My Dad, James Clelland, joined RAF in 1921 at Manston, I know he served on HMS Glorious. He also served at Shawbury, South Africa (Shalufa) Cranwell, Waddington, Binbrook, Watton and was discharged in 1955. I have a very rough, difficult to read record, his original service record I cannot find. He came from Hutchesentown in Glasgow hence his nickname (Jock). According to this record he received five good conduct badges. LS & GCM in 1941 (don't know which medal this is) Defence medal don't know the year. He lived in Lincoln all of his life when not serving but this is all I know. I have been to Duxford and seen the types of planes he worked on.

Jayne Clelland



John Langley 630 Squadron

Part of a letter written by John Langley in May 2008.

I have been reliving old memories and I can’t get them out of my mind. First of all, I have landed at both Manston and Gatwick and for the life of me I cannot understand why Gatwick was developed rather than Manston. When I touched down at Gatwick, it was a grass field, ie NO runways, whereas Manston had a huge runway which was so wide that when I took off using the left hand side of the runway a squadron of Spitfires was doing a formation landing on the same runway at the same time. Admittedly I did not like it, but it illustrates the size of the runway.

Additionally, the place is, in my opinion, much better suited than either Gatwick or Heathrow (another grassy field in those days), most particularly from the point of noise pollution, to say nothing of the fact that the circuit above Heathrow is over the most densely populated area of the country.

But the reason why Manston is the place I remember so well is this: When I joined the squadron at East Kirkby, at first I had to fly whatever aircraft was not being used by its "owner" as I had to wait until a new plane was delivered (we were allocated an aircraft and the associated ground crew, but until one came there was always a crew on leave or, as happened to me, I was given the CO’s kite as of course he didn’t fly every op. When eventually I got my brand new Lancaster it was a Mark 2, the only one on the airfield. It differed from the Mark Ones by having Packard-built Merlins with Stromberg carburettors, which unfortunately no one knew anything about. As a result, it was very troublesome and eventually it was "posted" to an OTU while I was on leave.

I was given the letter A Able, which was rather nice. By this time I had flown about a dozen different lettered planes, including S Sugar, which was the dual-controlled kite used for training and was universally detested as being a real old crock. One day, we were told that come what may with the weather (awful), Churchill had insisted a raid must take place, regardless of the consequences. We were going to Munich and were routed over the Alps. When the time came to take off, the cloud base was under 500 feet, it was raining cats and dogs and to crown it all, the wind direction meant we had to use the shortest of the three runways. About two-thirds of the take-off run, when it was impossible to stop, one of the engines caught fire and the flight engineer stopped it, feathered the prop, and operated the fire extinguisher button. I managed to get airborne on the other three engines, but we were unable to get high enough to fly over the Alps and another engine was overheating, so I had to turn back.

The weather at East Kirkby was too bad for landing, so we made our way to the main emergency strip at Manston, where we landed safely. A van with the ‘follow me’ light led us to our parking place and after reporting the forced landing to the squadron, we went to bed.

Don’t have page 2 of the letter, but apparently, they got up next morning to the shock of a badly damaged Lanc where they’d parked theirs, before realising it was another plane that had come in during the night.

A. Langley



F/Lt. Robert M. Malcolm 150 Sqdn.

My father, Bob Malcolm, was born in Winnipeg and enlisted in the RCAF in February 1941 at the age of 31. He received his commission in November of 1941 and was posted overseas one month later. He was trained as an observer and all of his 330 operational hours were gained on the Wellington Mk III bomber. His navigational training took place on Ansons, Manchesters and Wellingtons.

The first operations entry in Dad's log book is for 30th May 1942. His aircraft (Wellington W476 piloted by F/S Walters) participated in the first 1000-bomber raid of the war on Cologne. The entry simply reads, "Operations - Cologne - incendiaries - clear moonlight - target identified." Nothing hinted at the destruction below.

On the return from one mission over Frankfurt in August 1942, the starboard engine failed 25 miles southwest of Brussels. The engine was jettisoned and pilot Sgt. Bennee hard landed at Manston. Nobody was injured and the crew caught the next ferry home.

Dad served with 150 Squadron in Blida, North Africa from December 1942 until April 1943. His log book entries for that period note that he was aircrew aboard Wellington HF690, piloted by Sgt. Matthews, for many of his sorties. He also flew on HF674.

Dad was one of the lucky ones in that in all his missions while in North Africa, his crew suffered only one fatality, Sargeant Doug Baird of Abbotsford, BC. On a raid to Trapani, Sicily, on February 9, 1942, Dad's log states, "some heavy and lots of light flak - coned on run up and Baird wounded - bombed target - no W/T aids - landed Maison Blanche. Baird died in hospital."

After his stint with 150 Sqdn., Dad served as a ground instructor at RAF Bournemouth. He was transferred to the reserves in July 1946, having attained the C.V.S.M. and clasp, the 1939-45 Star, Africa Star and Clasp, Aircrew Europe Star, Defence Medal, RCAF Ops. Wings and Air Navigators Badge.

During the war, Dad met and eventually married Prydwen Thomas, a nurse from Betws-y-Coed, North Wales. After their wedding in December 1945, Mom and Dad returned to Winnipeg where Dad continued with the RCAF reserves, the Post Office, Department of Veterans Affairs and ultimately teaching. Dad passed away in 1981.

Duncan Malcolm







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