Introduction: RAF Bottesford 1941-1945
On the Wings of the Morning
In 1995, after over five years of research, Vincent Holyoak published the history of Bottesford Airfield. ‘On the Wings of the Morning’ tells the story of the bomber crews who flew from Bottesford Airfield during the Second World War. Using the personal testimony of those who served there, and their families, Vincent Holyoak has, in his own words, ‘tried through the extracts to convey something of the individual suffering, sacrifices, but above all, of the pride and the self deprecating humour of the veterans interviewed ….. this is very much their story, and I have been privileged to have been given the opportunity to tell it’.
The book is no longer in print and Vincent Holyoak has made it available as part of the archive of the Bottesford Living History Project. We are most grateful for his generous permission to reproduce this remarkable history of those many people who saw war-time service at what is known locally as Normanton Airfield.
“On the Wings of the Morning”
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that the wartime story of Bottesford has been told in full, probably because of the airfield’s unique geographical location, falling as it does not neatly within one county, but across three. It was this neglect in comparison to other airfields that prompted me to attempt to remedy the situation, and I hope that what follows will be as much a revelation to the reader as it has been to me.
The title is inspired by the extract from Psalm 139 reproduced on one of the stained glass panels at the Royal Air Forces Memorial to the missing, Runnymede. I feel the choice is particularly apt when one considers that of the 346 aircrew killed while flying from Bottesford in the last war, 118 have no known grave. I make no excuses for having attempted to approach the story from a human angle rather than to aim for a dry repetition of official records, hence the reliance on extracts from interviews. I have tried through the extracts to convey something of the individual suffering, sacrifices, but above all, of the pride and the self deprecating humour of the veterans interviewed. In conclusion, this is very much their story, and I have been privileged to have been given the opportunity to tell it.
By far the hardest task has been deciding what to leave out, and for those people who were so generous with their time but do not see their contributions reproduced here, I hope they will forgive me. Literally hundreds of people have helped me over the years in various ways and, although it would be wrong to single out individuals, that is what I will begin by doing! I would like to offer particular thanks to my parents and Michelle for their encouragement throughout, and to Bill Baguley and Frank Slack for all their help, advice – and above all – their friendship. Thanks also to Ted Richardson of the 467/463 Association, Cynthia Brown for the difficult and time consuming task of editing, and to Susan Howard for her hard work in preparing the manuscript for publication. Also to Denise Roper for permission to use quotations from the diary of George Hawes, first printed in her book ‘For the Duration’. It goes without saying that any errors, omissions or inaccuracies are solely my own. I should also like to acknowledge the generous help of the following organizations and periodicals over the years:
Aircrew Association, Bomber Command Association, Royal Air Force Association,
Leicester Mercury, Brighton Evening Argus, Southampton Evening Echo,
Tavistock Newspapers Limited, FlyPast Magazine, After the Battle Magazine,
Airfield Research Group, Humberside Libraries, Devon CR.O., Humberside
CR.O., Lincolnshire CR.O., Commonwealth War Graves Commission,
Public Records Office Kew, Air Historical Branch of the Ministry of Defence,
RAF Museum Hendon, Department of Air Force History Washington D.C,
Australian War Memorial Canberra, 207 Squadron Association, 467/463
Squadron Association, 77 Squadron Association, 90 Squadron Association,
50th Troop Carrier Wing Association.
Thanks also to:
C. Allen, N. Atkin, M. Baggaley, J.K. Banfield, D. Barnes, P.G. Barry, K. Batchelor,
A.W. Bates, K.H.P. Beauchamp, L. Beauchamp, F.J. Belfitt, D. Bentley,
H.C.J. Bentley, J. Berridge, S. Bethell, S. Bray, M. Butterworth, A. Cackett,
C.A. Campbell, A.Camps, J.W. Carr, M.I. Claridge, W. S. Close, J. Collier,
G.D.Currie, C. Davies, A.D. Dick, T.E. Done, A.R.C. Donohue, E. Dring,
C.B. Edwards, F. Ehrman, E. Fazackerley, K. Ferris, D.V. Forbes, G.E. Fitt,
J. George, R. Glynne-Owen, W.H. Goldstraw, B. Goodwin, D.A. Green,
P.H.T. Green, P. Greenwood, A. Hallam, B.R.W. Hallows, W.J. Hamilton,
G.C. Harrison, R. Hare, D.A. Harriman, H.M. Hart, C. Hawes, H. Hernaman,
R. Holland, R. Holyoak, M. Honeybone, S. Hooper, D. Ikin, V. Johnson, A. Jordan,
M. Kaye, R. Kirby, M.C. Lillie, I. McInnes, W. Manifold, B.M. Mason, N. Meglio,
D. Moore, J. Nedwich, M. Palmer, A. Parsons, S.E. Pattinson, J. Paxton,
R. Pearson, J. Pickford, E. Povey, P.M. Rae, G. Rawley, M.A. Riddell,
J.E. Rimmington, D.J. Roper, EA. Roper, J. Rose, N. Rushton, J. van Puyenbroek,
J. 5cott, R. Shaw, C. Smith, P. Sortehaug, C. Spedding, E.B. Spooner, R. Stamford,
C.E. Steer, R. Storey, N. Suddery, D. Sullivan, D.S. Symonds, K.F. Thiele,
M.L. Thornes, A. Tongue, G. Tothill, E. Townsend, J.B. Walker, M. Walker, P. Ward-
Hunt, H. Watson, W. Weinkam, M. Wells, E. Whatley, R. Williamson, M. Wolfe,
G. Woodhouse, K.L. Worden, A.T. Youdan.
Please click on each of the titles to view the chapters and appendices.
- Don’t you know there’s a war on?
- ‘Leicester’s Own’
- Target for tonight
- ‘ … a Piece of Cake
- Return to Battle
- Operation Millennium
- ‘Yours in memory’
- ‘Advance Australia!’
- The Big City
- Happy Valley
- Shuttle to Friedrichshaven
- On the other side of the hill
- ‘He will be missed and greatly mourned’
- On a Wing and a Prayer
- A Friendly Invasion
- ‘Git thar fustest with the mostest’
- It’s a lovely day tomorrow
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