488(NZ) Squadron leaves RAF Bradwell Bay

On 01/v/44, the the following entry was made in the Squadrons Operations Record Book:

“Information received that Squadron would proceed to Zeals in Wiltshire on the 4th instant”

So ended an 8 month tenure at Bradwell Bay, defending London and the South East of England from Luftwaffe raids coming from Continental Europe. In hindsight, of course, it is likely that this move was in anticipation of the planned invasion of Europe, and a tactical deployment of Night Fighters to protect the invasion and subsequent Allied advance.

Broody recorded his flying summary for his time at Bradwell Bay:

SUMMARY for BRADWELL-on-SEA
4/ix/43 to 5/v/44

TOTAL BEAUFIGHTER DAY 7H40M
TOTAL MOSQUITO DAY 73H35M
TOTAL OXFORD DAY 9H25M
TOTAL TIGER MOTH DAY 1H30M
TOTAL DAY FLYING 92H10M
TOTAL MOSQUITO NIGHT 100H20M
TOTAL NIGHT OPERATIONS 96H35M
TOTAL DAY OPERATIONS 00H35M

During their time at Bradwell Bay, the Squadron suffered the loss of 17 airmen. Their stories have already been told on this blog, and their names recorded in the Roll of Honour.

At what remains of the airfield today, there is a memorial to all those who lost their lives operating from the airfield. The names of 488’s 17 are recorded there.

The memorial at the site of RAF Bradwell Bay

The memorial at the site of RAF Bradwell Bay

The inscription reads: “This memorial has been erected in memory of the 121 members of the Allied Air Forces who in answer to the call of duty left this airfield to fly into the blue forever

RAF Zeals is at Grid Reference ST 78018 32945, between the villages of Stourton and Mere, just off the A303. Not much remains of the airfield today – it has returned to agricultural use – apart from the old control tower which has been converted into a private residence. On the aerial phot below, you can still see the perimeter fence and some dispersal pans in the wooded area on the North East side.

The site of RAF Zeals as it looks today. (Image from Google Earth)

The site of RAF Zeals as it looks today. (Image from Google Earth)

B Flight left for RAF Zeals on the morning of 4th, with A Flight (including Broody) remaining at Bradwell bay to maintain defensive flying. The main party moved by road in a convoy of 58 vehicles.

The ORB recorded on the 4th that: “On arrival at Zeals, it was found that they were not really in a position for us to operate from there, and W/C R.C.Haine visited 10 Group and obtained permission to move to Colerne until Zeals was ready.”

 The Squadron duly relocated to Colerne, some 25 miles to the North, where they remained for 7 days until moving back to Zeals on 11/v/44.

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