- RAF Church Fenton during the Second World War -
If you enjoy this site
please consider making a donation.
Allied Air Forces
Prisoners of War
Women at War
Those Who Served
The Great War
TWMP on Facebook
Your Family History
RAF Church Fenton
No.64 Squadron was formed at Sedgeford on 1 August 1916 as a training unit specialising in low-level flying. It went to France in October 1917 and spent the remainder of the war engaged in low-level fighter patrols and ground attack on the Western front. It returned to Narborough in February 1919, where it was disbanded on 31 December 1919.
In October 1935 Italy invaded Ethiopia, and fearing that war might spread into the Suez Canal Zone, 64 Squadron was reformed at Heliopolis, Egypt, by taking one flight from each of No. 6 and No. 208 Squadrons. The Squadron was equipped with the Hawker Demon biplane fighter. As the risk of the Italian invasion receded, the squadron left Egypt for the United Kingdom in August 1936. It was then based at RAF Martlesham Heath, Suffolk, as part of the UK air defences for London. In May 1938 the squadron moved to RAF Church Fenton, North Yorkshire and the unit was re-equipped with Bristol Blenheim Mk I(F) fighters in December 1938.
3rd September 1939 Spitfire Squadron Number 72 Squadron formed at Netheravon, July 1917, initially as a Training Squadron. It was then based in Basrah from March 1918 until the end of hostilities and disbanded in September 1919.
No 72 (Basutoland) Squadron was reformed 22nd February 1937, when 'B' Flight of No 1 Squadron at Tangmere was increased to squadron strength. It flew Gladiators until April 1939 when Spitfires were delivered. At the outbreak of WWII, No. 72 was at RAF Church Fenton in Yorkshire on air defence and convoy protection duties.
3rd September 1939 Spitfire Squadron
17th October 1939 On the move
1st December 1939 Moved again
December 1939 Coastal patrols
13th January 1940 Moved again
2nd March 1940 Moved again
April 1940 Re-equipped with Spitfires
16th May 1940 Relocated
17th June 1940 Disaster
5th Sept 1940 Rest and renewal
19th September 1940 New squadron formed Under American law, it was illegal for United States citizens to join the armed forces of foreign nations, and in doing so, they forfeited their US citizenship. Nevertheless in 1939 American mercenary Colonel Charles Sweeney had begun raising an American squadron to fight in Europe. He managed to dodge the FBI and Axis agents while illegally seeking pilots in the United States, risking $1000 fines and prison. Initially he wanted them to fight in Finland against the Russians, but his attention soon moved to France. Recruited and financed by Sweeney, over thirty Americans made their way to France before the Germans invaded in May, 1940. Although some joined the French Air Force, none got to fly in France. Several made their way to Britain after the German invasion of France and were recruited into RAF service.
After the fall of France the United States relaxed its concern over British recruiting and in July 1940 the FBI declared that there was 'no wrong done' by Sweeney (although those who had already left to join the Allied forces did not get their Citizenship officially restored until 1944). In Canada WWI Ace Air Vice Marshall Billy Bishop VC and a WWI American pilot, Clayton Knight, created the Clayton Knight Committee with the purpose of recruiting and training Americans for the Royal Canadian Air Force. By the end of 1941 Sweeney and the Committee had recruited over 7,000 Americans (though fewer than 15 percent became pilots). Almost all the pilots went to Britain to serve with the Royal Air Force.
With the steady influx of US volunteers, the RAF agreed to create a new Squadron to be manned by American personnel under British RAF officers, and on the 19 September 1940 No. 71 Squadron was reformed at Church Fenton. Sweeney had designed a unit shoulder patch bearing an American Eagle, giving squadron the title 71 'Eagle' Squadron. Seven of the initial recruits had already seen action in the Battle of Britain as members of other squadrons: Billy Fiske, Eugene “Red” Tobin, Andrew Mamedoff, Vernon “Shorty” Keough, Arthur Donahue, John Haviland and Phil Leckrone. Other recruits came through Canada with Canadian or civilian flying qualifications, and the initial task of the seven experienced flyers was to train their new colleagues.
The Squadron was initially equipped with American-built Brewster Buffalos. Royal Air Force acceptance personnel criticised the aircraft on numerous points, including excessive weight (despite a limited armament and a lack of pilot armour), poor high-altitude performance, engine overheating, unreliability and poor cockpit controls. The aircraft were deemed unsuitable for European conflict as it was being experienced in the Battle of Britain, and Hawker Hurricanes were supplied to replace the Buffalos from November 1940.https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/online-exhibitions/americans-in-the-royal-air-force/eagle-squadrons.aspx
19th September 1940 New squadron formed
23rd November 1940 Relocated
1st March 1941 Moved again
16th May 1942 On the Move
January 1943 Refitting
July 1943 Convoy escort In July 1943 No.26 Squadron moved from Detling to RAF Church Fenton in Yorkshire, although one flight was detached and sent to RAF Ballyhalbert in Northern Ireland. Their principal duties at this time were convoy escort patrols.http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/26_wwII.html
July 1943 Convoy escort
19th Dec 1943 Fighters and bombers
28th Dec 1943 Another Move
8th February 1945 Flooded
20th April 1945 On the Move
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Those known to have served at
RAF Church Fenton
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
This page is new, as yet no names have been submitted.
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.
- The 1st of September 2017 is The Wartime Memories Project's 18th Birthday. If you would like to send us a present, 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.
- 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.
Feb 2018 - 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 239080, 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.Please get in touch for the postal address, do not sent them to our PO Box as packages are not accepted. 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.
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