Tag Archives: RAF Bradwell Bay

Squadron Aircrew List updated

I have just published an update to the Squadron Aircrew list. A few new Christian Names and Service Numbers have been added.

The page can be found here or by navigating through the 488(NZ) Squadron Research tab at the top of the page.

As always, if anyone has any corrections or additions to this list, I would be delighted to hear from you via the contacts page.


RAF Zeals – 1944 Aerial Photograph found

On 04/v/44, 488(NZ) Squadron moved from RAF Bradwell Bay to RAF Zeals.

This move was covered in earlier posts, but I have just found an aerial photo of RAF Zeals dating from March 1944, only weeks before 488(NZ) Squadron arrived.

As a reminder, RAF Zeals is at Grid Reference ST 78018 32945, between the villages of Stourton and Mere, just off the A303. The photograph below shows how the airfield looked on 24/iv/44.

You can see the issues that 488(NZ) Squadron faced with the airfield – no proper runway, just a grass track. In his account of his D Day Patrol, Broody described the state of the airfield at Zeals:

“Zeals was a not too satisfactory grass airfield, close to Mere. One of its less attractive features was a roadway running across the main “runway” (i.e. the path outlined in the grass by runway lighting) which was showing a tendency to break up and throw pieces of debris at the tails of the aircraft. On taking off in a westerly direction, it was necessary to climb fairly hard to clear a ridge, which was succeeded by a valley, notorious for down-draughts, before another and higher ridge”

Aerial photograph of Zeals airfield looking south east, the control tower, technical site and blister hangars are at the top, 24 March 1944. Photograph taken by No. 544 Squadron, sortie number RAF/NLA/80. English Heritage (RAF Photography).

Aerial photograph of Zeals airfield looking south east, the control tower, technical site and blister hangars are at the top, 24 March 1944. Photograph taken by No. 544 Squadron, sortie number RAF/NLA/80. (Image Source – IWM / English Heritage – Original image at – http://www.americanairmuseum.com/media/6185)

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.

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)

Please note that as the 1944 image was taken from an almost southerly aspect, I have also rotated the Google Earth image for better comparison.


The Broodbank Collection – Catalogue now available!

At long last, I have catalogued the various items in my grandfather’s collection. You can see a complete list of all archive material by following this link.

This is still a bit of a work in progress, as there are currently no links to images etc, but in time this page should allow researchers to view the material in my collection.

As ever, if you want to get in contact about this or any other page on the site, please use the Contact page.


09/viii/44 – Patrols at either end of the day

9th August 01:20
DH Mosquito XIII MM558 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
PATROL – COL 15074 (Tailcoat One)
St Malo & Mont St Michel area at 5,000ft. One bogey – Stirling which kindly fired on us, without effect.
GCI 16081 (Tailcoat)
Rennes & Laval area at 4,000ft. Two bogies – a Stirling & a Lancaster. Otherwise very dull.
3:40

14:15
NFT, CINE-GUN & FORMATION
With F/O Robinson. Long run as target for W/O Addison DFC DFM & then formation beat-up of Robbie’s house & formation home. A/I switching circuit U/S on the way home.
1:15

21:40
NFT & IFF CHECK
On Robbie again – his IFF apparently U/S
0:15

PATROL – COL 15073 (Yardley One)
Cap de la Hague & Alderney area. No activity whatsoever.
2:50


Summary for June 1944

SUMMARY for JUNE

TOTAL MOSQUITO DAY 9H05M
TOTAL OXFORD DAY 2H35M
TOTAL DAY FLYING 11H40M
TOTAL MOSQUITO NIGHT 18H00M
TOTAL NIGHT OPERATIONS 18H00M

Poor weather reduced the activity of the Squadron this month, although there was a slight increase in Night Flying hours for Broody compared to May.

The month was, however, the most successful to date for the Squadron, with a total of nine enemy aircraft destroyed as follows:

S/Ldr Bunting – 2
F/Lt Jameson – 2
F/Lt Hall P – 2
F/O Robinson – 1
P/O Vlotman – 1
P/O McCabe – 1

(See entries 21 to 29 on the Squadron Victories page for more detail)


12/vi/44 – Social visit to Bradwell Bay

12th June 14:35
Airspeed Oxford II T1018
Pilot: F/O Scott
2nd Pilot: W/O Hughes
3rd Pilot: F/Sgt Green
Navigator: Self
Passenger: LAC Murrells
BASE ~ COLERNE
To drop F/Sgt Green for a “48”
[48 hour pass] in Bath.
0:15

15:00
(Less F/Sgt Green)
COLERNE ~ BRADWELL-on-SEA
Social Visit
1:00

21:40
(Less LAC Murrells)
BRADWELL-on-SEA ~ BASE
1:20

Given that the stated capacity of an Airspeed Oxford is 3 people, the trip from Zeals to Colerne must have been an bit of a tight squeeze!


Summary for May 1944

SUMMARY for MAY

TOTAL MAGISTER DAY 1H05M
TOTAL MOSQUITO DAY 10H10M
TOTAL OXFORD DAY 4H00M
TOTAL DAY FLYING 15H15M
TOTAL MOSQUITO NIGHT 11H05M
TOTAL NIGHT OPERATIONS 7H40M

 

May 1944 was quiet for Broody and the Squadron as a whole, probably due in part to the 2 airfield moves undertaken during the month.

As we now know, this was the calm before the storm.


29/v/44 – Shot at by a Beaufighter

29th May 02:30
DH Mosquito XIII MM558 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
PATROL & GCI PRACTICE ~ Exminster & Hope Cove (Type 16)
During a flap – 1 run: 1 contact: 1 visual: 1 murder, then on to Hope Cove Type 16 after a bogey – Wellington at 2000ft with lights on. Back on Exminster after another bogey – which proved to be a Mosquito of 604 Squadron, shot down by another type who then had a go at us. Having got rid of him, another quiet practice run. Then home!
2:50

The Mosquito of 604 Squadron, MM503 was shot down in error by a Beaufighter MM920 (WM-Y) of 68 Squadron off Lyme Bay.

The pilot, F/Lt C.L. HARRIS survived, but sadly the Navigator, Sgt E.B HOPKINSON was killed.

In 2 days, the crews of 488 Squadron were on both sides of Friendly Fire incidents. We are now only a week away from D-Day and the invasion of German occupied France – One can only imagine the pressure these men must have been under at the time.


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.


04/v/44 – Quick NFT & A/I Exercise

4th May 14:10
DH Mosquito XIII MM558 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
NFT, CINE-GUN & A/I EXERCISE V
Target losing height & evading fully
0:40