The Wartime Memories Project - RAF Westhampnett



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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

Information.

Westhampnett was built as an emergency fighter landing, a satellite of RAF Tangmere. Both airfields are on the Goodwood Estate, then owned by the Duke of Richmond (an avid pilot and racing buff)

Lord Richmond held on to the deed for the land, and after the war, converted the airport perimeter road into the famous Goodwood Motor Circuit, which opened in 1948. The control tower is now known as The`Control Tower Cafe’.

Sqadrons stationed at Westhampnett during the Second Wolrd War.

  • 610 Squadron 15 Dec 1940 to 29th Aug 1941 & 20th Jan 1943 to 30th April 1943 & 27 Jun 1944 to 2 July 1944


You request info on RAF Westhampnett, 2nd WW period. I can provide some, and direct to a few pictures of 129th Sqdn pilots stationed there, end 1941 to fall 1942.

This is a picture of the only dutch pilot of 129th stationed there:

P/O Govert Steen of Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, born 12/03/1917, crashed near Octeville, France, June 5, 1942, MIA.

This picture is of the 129th Sqdn. at RAF Westhampnett. The date is March 22nd, 1942. The parade is taken by Air Vice Marshall Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory KCB DSO.

P/O Steen at the extreme right. Below the letter "I", behind the civilian, is S/Ldr is Rhys Henri Thomas. Picture now in the collection of the Militaire Luchtvaart Museum, Soesterberg, The Netherlands. This picture was also taken on the 22nd March 1942, before 'B' flight dispersal hut on RAF Westhampnett.

Between the lady and the shorter civilian: Chapman, the Intel Officer. Left of the shorter civilian (right on the picture): Sgt. Ray Sherk, Canada, recognized by himself. Behind to the right of the civilian with the umbrella: P/O. E.S. (Ted) Hall, recognized by his lifelong friend Dick Reeves, Canada. Hall died in 2001. The relevant paragraph in the Operations Record Book of one-two-nine: "Captain Binstead, the Trade Commissioner for Mysore, Mr. Goodchild of the India Office, and Sir Frank Brown of the East India Company visited the Squadron, and after lunch with the Station Commander at Chopwyke House proceeded to the Dispersal where after speeches by Capt. Binstead and Sir Frank Brown, the latter presented Mysore Medallions to new pilots and to the 10. Senior N.C.O's. This was followed by the arrival of the A.O.C. Air Vice Marshal Leigh Mallory who presented the Squadron Crest (consisting of the Gundabherunda and the motto 'I defend the Right') to the C.O. After which the whole Squadron marched past the A.O.C. who took the salute and then received the pilots in the dispersal hut, congratulating them on the Squadron's record. Reference was made to the fact that 523. Hours were flown by the Squadron in February without a single accident." (Source: PRO.)

Both pictures were in Steen's possession in 1942, and presented by the RAF to Steen's family after the War.

The Imperial War Museum has found (only) 3 pictures of 129th pilots, stationed at Westhampnett in this period: F/Lt. H.C.F. Bowman, IWM picture no. CH5499 P/O. E.S. Hall, IWM picture no. CH4384 S/Ldr R.H. Thomas, IWM picture no. CH5176

As I'm writing a book about P/O Steen, I would be most interested in any pictures of wartime RAF Westhampnett that you have, or can point to.

During research into the story of P/O. Govert Steen from Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, who flew with 129th Sqdn Fighter Command from Westhampnett during the first half of 1942, I have found the names of 73 one-two-nine pilots of the period, and of Jan, the German shepherd dog annex Squadron mascotte. 42 portraits found. The data, including small portraits, is in an 1.3 Mb Excel file. Please let me know if you want to receive that, and if your mailbox can cope with the filesize. Sources are ORB, and statements & photographs from several surviving pilots.

Dutchmen served at dozens of UK airfields during WW2. An as yet unknown number of Dutchmen served with the RAF. Could be well over 400. As far as known at this point, 234 of them were killed or went missing. 197 of them whilst flying from a base in the UK. I have complied a list of those killed or missing, and I know of three who became POW's and were killed in concentration camps, as I don't know yet from which base they flew. There were also 22 Dutch RAF aviators that were taken POW, and survived the War. Only 20% of these men is known to the CWGC. 87 are still listed as missing-in-action. Of these, only 13 have their names on the tables in the Runnymede Airforce Memorial.

Sources: Sectie Luchtmachthistorie (Air Historical Branch), NL, unpublished documents; Oorlogsgravenstichting (the Dutch CWGC); CWGC; ORB's (National Archives); RAF AHB & PMA, and several others.

Kind regards, Rob Philips

(The names from Rob's list will be added to the lists of airmen on the relevant pages of this website)



9 Aug 2001

60 years ago today, the Tangmere Wing Leader, Wg Cdr Douglas Bader, was brought down over France and captured. Today at Westhampnett, Lady Bader unveiled there a statue of her late husband, created by sculptor Ken Potts, and there was a terrific reunion of former Tangmere Wing personnel.

The day also saw the release of a new book about Douglas Bader.


Sir Douglas Bader
Dilip Sarkar
Our Price: £ 29.95

More Information on
Sir Douglas Bader



Photographs

The Control Tower Cafe
Photo by UK AIRFIELDS 1998 If you have any Photographs you would like to share please get in touch.




List of those who served here.

  • F/Lt. H.C.F. Bowman
  • Conrad Theodor "Coen" de Iongh. BL. dutch 167 F Sqd (d. 10 June 1943)
  • P/O. E.S. Hall
  • Sgt Pilot Woodrow Raine. 610 sqd. Read his Story
  • Squadron Leader Rhys Henry Thomas DSO, DFC. CO 129 Squadron
  • P/O Govert Steen VK2. CdGaP. dutch 129 F Sqd (d. 05 June 1942) Read his story

If you have any names to add to this list, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.



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