Airport Diary 1909 - 1959
1909 - 1914 Pre Airport 1909: Leigh-on-Sea V. F. Forbes and A. J. Arnold built their unconventional single seat tractor monoplane. Successful flights were made of a scaled down model. The real aircraft was made from bamboo the aircraft was fitted with a water cooled car engine it was reported that the aircraft made a few hops but never actually flew. 1909: The London Aeroplane Corporation and The Southend Corporation entered talks in to the opening of an aircraft manufacturing facility in the town, the project would have seen a number of large hangers and a runway being built costs of the project began to climb and in the end became so high that it was deemed to be too expensive and was scrapped. Thursday 11th November 1909: Robert Macfie an American aviator of Scottish parents re-located his tractor monoplane from the airfield at South Fambridge to Maplin sands. Sunday 28th November 1909: The War Office ordered Robert Macfie off the Maplin Sands, he re-located his aircraft to the Kursaal, it was to move on again to Paris. June 1910: The Royal Aero Club approached Southend Corporation seeking sponsorship of £8000 to host the National Aviation Week the Corporation decided that it could not afford to cover the costs of the event. Saturday 9th July 1910: The first true aeroplane flight in Southend. Local aviator George Barnes made the first ever recorded flight from the borough. The flight was not from the site that has today become the town's airport, but Roots Hall Home of Southend United football Club. More than 2000 people some of whom gathered at the top of St Mary's church watched the flight, which was made in a Bleriot. The event was hampered by strong winds which affected the light aircraft a number of attempts were made but due the winds it was decided not to try to fly the aircraft. When the winds drop in the evening the aircraft was rolled into position and fired up its engine it got 50 yards off the ground and flew in to the next field before coming back down. The event was open to spectators who had to pay an entry fee to get in to the Football clubs ground, but because of the low height of the fence many people simply jumped over the fence. Sadly, a few weeks later Barnes was seriously injured when attempting another flight this time flying at Folkestone. October 1910: Mr Stanton an American member of the Aerial League was touring the UK when he came to Southend and set about setting up the National Flying Club once again it failed due to lack of funds. August 1912: Short S.14 Tractor seaplane visited Southend on coastal survey. Friday 23rd August 1912: Claude Graham-white and several other pilots put on a flying demonstration in their new seaplanes. White who was flying his Henri Farman Hydro-plane landed just West of the Pier he was joined by two other aviators who had flown from Margate in Kent, they arrived in Bleroit seaplanes. The same month saw a number of other Seaplanes visit the town including a Short S.14 Tractor on a Coastal Survey. 1914: Royal Flying Corps surveyed the Borough of Southend and list it as a Potential Landing Ground.
1915 - 1934: The First World War Monday 31st May 1915: The first recorded operational sortie out of the airfield. Sub Lieutenant A. W. Robertson of the Royal Naval Air Station had been tasked to fly a mission to attack the German Zeppelin LZ38. Who was flying a Bleriot monoplane was unfortunately forced to make an emergency landing on near by Leigh marshes due to engine failure. The airship LZ38 was destroyed in an Air Raid on 7th June 1915 in side its hanger in Evere Brussels. May 1915: Southend's first real air-raid came when in the early hours one morning a Zeppelin flew over the town dropping a number of bombs. Attached to one was a note that read, "You English we have come and will come again soon, Kill or Cure." The Zeppelins did return 11 days later killing two people in Leigh. 1916: 37 Squadron moved on to the airfield and begin night training with their Be2 aircraft. March 1916: After numerous raids on the town zeppelin L15 was bought down during the night, the airship came down in to the estuary just east of the pier. Friday 31st March 1916 Saturday 1st April 1916: Night operations include BE2c 1164 flown by Sub Lieutenant G. L. F. Stevens returns at 02:41 after uneventful night sortie, Be2 1189 flown by Sub Lieutenant E. P. Hicks takes over. Sunday 2nd April – Monday 3rd April 1916: Night operations include Be2c 1164 night sortie from 11:55pm, Be2 2526 and Be2 8610. Wednesday 26th April 1916: The last Royal Navy Air Station flight, as control of the airfield is handed over to the Royal Flying Corps. Wednesday 31st May 1916: Aircraft from the airfield scramble to intercept a Zeppelin but fail to find the intruder. June 1916: The airfield building programme began. Sunday 4th June 1916: RFC Rochford Home Defence Night Landing Ground. Friday 15th September 1916: RFC Rochford became Flight Station (Night) 1st Class Category, a flight of No37 Home Defence Squadron of the 50th Wing South East Division with Be2s and BE12s arrive. Tuesday 28th November 1916: Day time operation include No37 squadron Be2 on sortie between 1:45pm—3:25pm. January 1917: 11 Reserve Night Training Squadron arrived. February 1917: 11 reserve Night Training Squadron changed name to 98Dept Squadron and equip with Avro 504s and Sopwith camels. Thursday 1st March 1917: No37 squadron make two sorties during the day. Friday 16th March 1917: One sortie carried out by 37Squadron. Friday 16th—Saturday 17th March 1917: Night sorties by 37Squadronn ‘B’ flight Be2 6820 Capt K. N. Pearson 10:41pm—00:01am, Be2 5877 Lieutenant Carpenter 00:25am—01:40am, Be2 Lieutenant Ransome 01:10am—02:25am. June 1917: No99 Dept Squadron arrived. Friday 1st June 1917: 198 Squadron formed as an Elementary Night Flying Unit with Avro 504’s. Sunday 24th June 1917: 61 Squadron formed as Home Defence Unit with Sopwith Pups. July 1917: No99 Dept Squadron departed. Thursday 2nd August 1917: 61 Squadron formed at RAF Rochford with Sopwith Pups A653, A6243, B735, B1771, B1801 (6), B2159. Sunday 12th August 1917: 61 Squadron intercepted German Gotha bomber over the Southend area. When the German air raids switch to night raids in January 1918 the squadron change aircraft to the SE5a's comprising of: B658, B679, C5338, C8711, C9486, D239, D3459 they later change to the Sopwith Camels. Sunday 12th August 1917: RAF Rochford Bombed the resident fighters intercept 10 Gotha’s 40 miles out to sea but fail to shoot any down. Monday 20th August 1917: The Slaughter of Innocence. Thousands of day-trippers and holiday-makers were returning home after enjoying a hot lazy day out by the sea, the residents of the town were out doing their shopping and also enjoying the weather when. 20 German aircraft started circling the town, and for the next 15 minutes all hell was let loose. The aircraft started dropping aerial torpedoes on the crowds making their way home; the torpedoes exploding at their feet as they ran for cover. By the time the bombs had stopped raining down 32 people lay dead many of them children a further 43 were very seriously wounded. The attack that was concentrated mainly on the centre & eastern areas of the town was the most brutal of the war but by no means the only attack. Southend was on the flight path to London, the Gothas didn't carry any navigation aids so the pilots had to use a couple of compasses to find the Thames then follow it to London. If the Ack-Ack guns protecting London forced the raiders to turn back they would quite often drop them on south east Essex a lot of the time on Southend. September 1917: 190 Dept Squadron formed on site. October 1917: 198 Dept Squadron changed to 190 Night Training Squadron. December 1917: 198 Night Training Squadron. Thursday 6th December 1917: Gotha crash landing. A group of German Gotha Biplanes were spotted over the estuary. The Ack-Ack guns at Canvey hit one of the aircraft, the aircraft pulled away and headed for the airfield. The Gotha crash-landed on Rochford golf course next to the airfield; the crew survived the crash and was quickly taken prisoner. It was whilst the RAF crews who were based at Rochford were examining the damaged aircraft that one of them picked up a very pistol not realising it was loaded he accidentally let it off. The petrol soaked aircraft was immediately engulfed in flames and by morning only a charred twisted frame was left. January 1918: A captured German Albatross flies in the airfield from France. January 1918: ‘A’ flight of 61 Squadron formed. Tuesday 1st January 1918: 141 Squadron formed with Bristol F2b’s. Saturday 2nd February 1918: 141 Squadron moved to Biggin Hill. Wednesday 13th February 1918: ‘A’ flight of 61 Squadron departed. March 1918: 190 Night Training Squadron Departed. Thursday 7th March 1918: Captain H. C. Stroud of 61 Squadron (SE5a) and Capt A. B. Kynoch of 37 Squadron (BE12 Stow Maries) killed in mid-air collision over Shotgate. Monday 1st April 1918: That year the RNAS and RFC merged to become the RAF, in June the Night Fighter Squadron 37 moved out. Saturday 10th May 1919: Handley Page 0/400 drops newspapers by parachute off the which are then collected by boat and taken ashore. June 1919: Gotha bomber exhibited in the Sunken Gardens (now Adventure Island) on Western Esplanade. Tuesday 1st October 1918: No152 Night Fighter Unit formed and moved to France the same month. October 1918: Night Training Station Rochford. Friday 13th June 1919: 61 Squadron disbanded. September 1919: 199 squadron disbanded. September 1919: 198 Squadron disbanded. Thursday 4th December 1919: The last RAF flight of the Great War. The last flight saw flew out of the airfield was when Lieutenant Bromfield flew a Bristol Fighter (E2581 on display at Imperial War Museum Lambeth). The site of the airfield reverted back to farming during 1933-1935. In stead flying was carried out at Holt Farm Rochford, this site located just to the north of the airport it was used whilst the current site was upgraded, after the First World War. 1920: Airfield closed. 1923: The Seaplane & Pleasure Trip Company launches service with Superannuated Shorts aircraft. 1929: Surrey Flying Services launches service from Shoebury common using an Avro Bi-plane. Friday 14th & Saturday 15th April 1933: Alan Cobham’s National Aviation Day came to Southend. Tuesday 22nd August 1933: Alan Cobham’s National Aviation Day came to Southend. Monday 28th August 1934: Alan Cobham’s National Aviation Day came to Southend.
1935 - 1946: The War Years Wednesday 18th September 1935: Civil flying returned to Southend after the war, but it wasn't until this date that the airport was officially opened by Sir Philip Sassoon who at the time was Under-Secretary of State for Air, he arrived at Southend in his DH85 Leopard Moth. The Airfield was operated for the council by the Southend Flying Club. The early days of the airport were very prosperous with many pilots moving their aircraft in to Southend as well as airlines setting up a base at the airport. Regular services were set up flying to other parts of the country including Norwich & Portsmouth. An Hourly service serving Southend and Rochester was set up, this cost 5/-(25p) single, the service was actually run by Shorts Bros so that they could test fly their new Short Scion S.16. Wednesday 22nd July 1936: C. W. A. Scot holds flying display. Summer 1937: Southend was home to one of the first RAF Volunteer Reserve Squadrons. This time saw the MOD set up two Auxiliary Air Force squadrons at Southend these were 602 Squadron (City of Glasgow) and 607 Sqn (County of Durham) they operated Hawker hinds and Demons, also established at the airfield was No34 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School, this was run by Air Hire Ltd with the DH Tiger Moth, in readiness for what lay a head. By the time the war started all civil flying out of Southend had ceased and it had now become RAF Rochford. Through out the war the airfield was at the forefront of all the bombing raids on London, as the German aircraft would fly straight up the River Thames and in to the hart of our Capital city. Neither the town of Southend nor the airfield escaped the attentions of the bombers during the war both being attacked on several occasions. 1938: Civil Air Guard set up in Southend. Saturday 27th August 1938: Southend Flying Club At Home Display. Sunday 1st January 1939: 34 Elementary and Royal Flying Training School formed flying Hawker Audax, De Havilland Tiger Moth, Hawker Hind and Avro Ansons. Friday 11th August 1939: The 12 Spitfires of 54 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch. Sunday 3rd September 1939: The Blackout starts. The Southend Illuminations went out as did much of the county in the Blackout. It may have hid the towns but there was no hiding the Estuary like in the last war the German bombers followed it up to London. Those that were turned back went for their secondary targets the shipping in the Estuary which a lot of the time meant Southend would get hit. To counter this menace a large percentage of the UK's Ack-Ack guns were located in the local area. They were thickest in the Vange area, but they were also in every Southend Park, open space, along the Pier, on specially built forts in the Estuary and on ship's permanently moored in the estuary. Tuesday 3rd October 1939: Elementary and Royal Flying Training School disbanded. Monday 16th October 1939: 600 Squadron "City of London" equipped with Bristol Blenhiem’s arrived. Friday 20th October 1939: 600 Squadron re-located to Hornchurch. Sunday 22nd October 1939: 74 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfires Mk1a’s. Saturday 28th October 1939: 54 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Sptfires Mk1a’s. Sunday 29th October 1939: 74 Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Friday 3rd November 1939: 54 Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Friday 3rd November 1939: 74 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a’s. Tuesday 14th November 1939: 74 Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Friday 17th November 1939: Supermarine Spitfire Mk1’s of 54 Squadron arrived forming part of Fighter Commands Rochford Line, a flight of aircraft flying at 25.000 ft. Friday 1st December 1939: 74 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfires Mk1a’s. Saturday 2nd December 1939: 54 Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Saturday 16th December 1939: 74 Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Friday 29th December 1939: 54 Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Friday 29th December 1939: 74 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a’s. Tuesday 16th January 1940: 54 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a’s Tuesday 13th February 1940: The first damage done by a Rochford based aircraft to a German, a 74 Squadron aircraft intercepted a HE111 over the Thames Estuary a few days later the squadron damaged a DO17 in the same area. Wednesday 14th February 1940: 54 Squadron departed. Wednesday 14th February 1940: 74 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a’s. Saturday 23rd March 1940: 54 Squadron return with Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a’s Saturday 23rd March 1940: 74 Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Saturday 20th April 1940: 54 Squadron departed. Saturday 20th April 1940: 74 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a’s. Saturday 18th May 1940: Two German bombers attack Southend scoring direct hits on the Nore Yacht club wrecking it and destroying a Billet bordering the Airfield killing 10 soldiers. Monday 27th May 1940: 74 Squadron departed to Leconfield, Yorkshire. Monday 27th May 1940: 616 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a’s. Thursday 6th June 1940: 616 Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Thursday 6th June 1940: 74 Squadron arrived from Leconfield with Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a’s. Tuesday 18th June 1940: RAF Rochford entered the record books, when Flt Lt Sailor Malan shot down an enemy aircraft at night thus becoming the first fighter pilot of a single seat fighter to do so. Tuesday 25th June 1940: 54 Squadron returned from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk1a’s. Tuesday 25th June 1940: Flt Lt Sailor Malan in the record books again becoming the first pilot to down two enemy aircraft in one night. Saturday 20th July 1940: RAF Rochford bombed. Sunday 21st July 1940: Rochford based Spitfire 1, N3184 of 54Sqn was lost after engine failure during convoy patrol P/o J. L. Kemp bailed out safely in to water, he was picked up by a Royal Navy destroyer the aircraft was destroyed. Wednesday 24th July 1940: 54 Squadron combat. Six Spitfires were tasked in the morning to attack a number of Dornier’s that were attacking a convoy in the Straits of Dover, however, during the mission the squadron had to break up in to two groups one remaining over Dover the other returning to the Thames Estuary where another convoy was under attack, the two attackers were disrupted with the raiders retuning to Nazi occupied Europe with out any kills the RAF fighters also failed to get any kills. Later in the day "B" Flight intercepted a formation of Do215s off Dover they were able to break up the formation forcing them to jettison their bombs and turn back across the Channel later in the morning a second raid was forming up to attack the shipping in the Thames Estuary this time the attack was by 18 Dornier’s escorted by 40+ Bf109s. The Spitfires of 54 Squadron were joined by those of the Hornchurch based 65 Squadron a successful intercept of the bombers forced them to jettison their loads failing to hit any of the shipping in the Estuary, the Gravesend based 610 Squadron had been scrambled to intercept the fleeing bombers with the Messchermitt Bf109’s covering the bombers a dog fighter broke out however the German fighters were soon to run low on fuel, during the combat action three of the German bombers were shot down for the loss of a 54 Squadron Spitfire flown by Flying Officer Johnny Allen, as the fighting moved across the Kent countryside and out towards Dover four Bf109s were downed. Wednesday 24th July 1940: Rochford Based Supermarine Spitfire 1 P9389 of 54Sqn made an emergency landing at Rochford after combat damage with a Do17 engaged in an attack on a convoy off Dover the Pilot P/o A. Finnie was unhurt. Wednesday 24th July 1940: Supermarine Spitfire 1 P9549 54Sqn returned to Rochford damaged in combat over Dover. Wednesday 24th July 1940: Supermarine Spitfire 1 R6812 54sqn suffered damage to engine during combat with Bf109s the aircraft diverted to Manston but stalled on approach crashing at Clifftonville F/o J. L. Allen was killed. Wednesday 24th July 1940: Supermarine Spitfire 1 R6710 of 54Sqn damaged by Bf109s returned to Rochford with cockpit canopy shattered P/o H. K. F. Matthew unhurt aircraft repairable. Wednesday 24th July 1940: Supermarine Spitfire N3192 Ran out of fuel during a chase and forced landed at Sizewell pilot safe aircraft written off. Wednesday 24th July 1940: After a busy day 54 Squadron left for Hornchurch. Friday 26th July 1940: RAF Rochford bombed at night by Do17s. Wednesday 31st July 1940: RAF Rochford bombed. Monday 26th August 1940: RAF Rochford Bombed. Monday 26th August 1940: Dornier Do17 crash landing. Donier Do17 Z-3 of 2/kg2 (U5+LK)was attacked by Flt, Lt Saunders of 65 Sqn the German bomber sustained damage and started to lose height, the bomber made a wheels up landing on the airfield and remained intact after the crash landing, the aircraft was of great interest to the war office who dispatched a recovery team with great haste to retrieve the valuable bomber. The Crew Hptmn Bose (pilot), Uffzs Schmidt, Lungard Roeder, Odergfr Roeder all survived the crash and were captured. Wednesday 28th August 1940: Airfield bombed twice in one day. The first wave of 27 bombers set buildings on fire and caused slight damage to other parts of the airfield, the second raid created 30 craters on the landing ground but with little other damage. Wednesday 28th August 1940: RAF Rochford bombed. The airfield was heavily by 15 He111's at 13;00hrs dropping 15 tons of High Explosives most landing on the airfield but some do fall around the site 9 raiders were shot down one of the raiding bombers crash lands on the airfield the airfield is forced to close at night and have single aircraft taking off and landing at day-light due to the damage to buildings fires and damage to runways; Raid on the Thames Estuary sees 12 out of 100 raiders shot down between 15:50-16:45; Two women are killed in the Victoria area of the town by a stray bomb during a raid on the Thames Estuary by 60 aircraft at 19:00hrs with one being shot down. Thursday 29th August 1940: RAF Rochford remains closed due to time delay bombs. Saturday 31st August 1940: RAF Rochford bombed. August 1940: Claims made by Nazi warmongers that "RAF Rochford had been obliterated, by an air raid, what was left was a mass of smoking burning ruins," raid by 21 He111's "stick raid" from shore-end of the pier to airfield. Sunday 1st September 1940: RAF Rochford unserviceable due to craters after raid. Monday 2nd September 1940: Dornier Do17 crash landing. The Hurricanes of 249 Squadron attacked and damaged Do17 Z-2 of 9/kg3 (5K+BT) the aircraft sustained heavy damage and had to make a wheels up landing on the airfield the second of the type to do so! The Pilot Uffz Seidl and F. W. Spink were both wounded in the crash but survived and were taken prisoner whilst the gunner Uffz Hillbrecht died. Two other bombers crashed in to the Estuary off Southend. Tuesday 3rd September 1940: Rochford based Spitfires intercepted a flight of He111's they attacked and shot one down, the aircraft crashing in to Lifstan Way. Saturday 7th September 1940: RAF Rochford attacked & left unserviceable for short time. Saturday 28th September 1940: The airfield is the prime target for the Luftwaffe. The airfield was hit 30 times, the squadrons resident at the time were able to get into the air before the attack started, because of the early warning from the radar station at Canewdon. This coincided with the airfield being renamed R.A.F Southend, with Wing Cdr. Basil Embry as D.S.O Station Commander. Monday 30th September 1940: R.A.F Rochford was upgraded to R.A.F Station Southend this Coincided with the Luftwaffe changing from Daylight raids on London to Night-time raids. Monday 28th October 1940: RAF Rochford becomes an Independent Station of Hornchurch Sector & renames RAF Southend, at the same time it is proposed as a night fighter base with 264 & 151 Squadrons operating out of it but the plans are dropped. Sunday 29th October 1940: 264 Squadron arrived from Kirton-in-Lindsey with Boulton-Paul Defiant 1’s. Sunday 24th November 1940: Dornier crash lands on airfield. Friday 15th November 1940: Boulton Paul Defiant N1547 P/o W. R. A. Knocker and P/o F. A .Toombs of 264 Squadron were both killed when the engine cut on approach to the airfield the aircraft hit a tree and exploded. Wednesday 20th November 1940: Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I N1626 264 Squadron crashed on take off during night sortie Pilot Officer Hackwood and gunner killed. Wednesday 27th November 1940: 264 Squadron departed to Debden. Tuesday 3rd December 1940: 603 Squadron (City of Edinburgh) arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk2a’s. Friday 13th December 1940: 611Sqn (West Lancashire) arrived from Digby with Supermarine Spitfire Mk2a’s. Friday 13th December 1940: 603 Squadron departed to Drem. Thursday 2nd January 1941: The Mad Magister. The Southend communications Miles Magister was being flown back from a sortie to Cranwell when a technical fault saw the aircraft make an emergency landing in a field near Ongar, the aircraft had its wings removed and was towed to North Weald, where it was put back together, a pilot from RAF Southend was dispatched to bring it back, however the pilot sent rang the Southend Engineering Office to say that the North Weald riggers had wrongly rigged the aileron controls and asked what he should do. The E/o jokingly told the pilot to "sit facing backwards or fly it upside down!" to his surprise the Maggie landed back at Southend a short time later with the rigging still not rectified! Tuesday 7th January 1941: Hit and Run attack on RAF Rochford eight fifty-kilo bombs dropped. Thursday 9th January 1941: RAF Southend becomes a Forward Offensive Fighter Base Sunday 19th January 1941: The Heavy Attack Five-hundred incendiaries dropped on Southend, Westcliff, Chalkwell, and Leigh after German bombers are forced to turn back from an attack on London by heavy Ack-Ack fire and increased patrols by night fighters, the town was hit after the Nazi bombers failed to locate the airfield and Estuary Bombed by delayed action bombs and landmines dropped on Thorpe Bay. Monday 27th January 1941: 611 Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Monday 27th January 1941: 64 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk2a’s. Monday 31st March 1941: 64 Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Monday 31st March 1941: 54 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk2a’s. April 1941: 137 Squadron fly in with their Westland Whirlwinds these are soon replaced with the new Hurricane IV. Thursday 17th April 1941: 100th kill for RAF Southend. Saturday 2nd May 1942: 403 RCAF Squadron arrived from North Weald with Supermarine Spitfire Mk5b’s. Wednesday 2nd May 1942: The airfield transferred to the North Weald sector. Sunday 7th June 1942: 1422 Fighter Gunnery School departed to Martlesham Heath. Wednesday 3rd June 1942: The Americans arrive. The American 121 Eagle Squadron arrive at Southend this was one of three squadrons in the RAF whose pilots were American, they flew with the RAF before America entered the war, after the USA entered hostilities 121 became 335 USAAC Squadron. Wednesday 3rd June 1942: 403 RCAF departed to Martlesham Heath. Sunday 7th June 1942: 1488 Fighter Gunnery Flight departed to Martlesham Heath. Sunday 16th August 1942: 19 Squadron arrived from Perranporth flying Supermarine Spitfire 5b’s. Thursday 20th August 1942: 19 Squadron departed to Perranporth. Wednesday 23rd September 1942: 350 Belgian Squadron arrived from Redhill with Supermarine Spitfire Mk5b’s. Monday 26th October 1942: Dornier Do217 crash landing. Southend attacked by Do217s, A second raid of 8th Staffel of KG2 took off from Deelen Holland to attack Skefko Ball Bearing Factory Luton one is attacked en-route and it dives away from its group the pilot attempts to return to occupied Europe but only makes it as far as Southend and upon sighting the airfield make a crash-landing but hits the dispersal area of the newly arrived 350 Squadron destroying a workshop and killing W/o Dyon at his post with two air men injured. This was the third Do17 to crash at Southend. Tuesday 24th November 1942: 350 Belgian Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Monday 7th December 1942: 453 RAAF Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk5a’s. Tuesday 9th February 1943: A lone Do217 (up graded Do17) sneaks in at night and attacks the airfield. The resident Spitfires were on patrol over the town during bad weather the German bomber then gets away without any trouble from the British fighters. March 1943: RAF Southend dive-bombed. Monday 1st March 1943: 453 RAAF Squadron departed to Westcott. Sunday 14th March 1943: 453 RAAF Squadron arrived from Newmarket with Supermarine Spitfire Mk5b’s. Saturday 27th March 1943: 222 Squadron arrived from Ayr with Supermarine Spitfire Mk5b’s. Wednesday 1st April 1943: 222 Squadron departed to Martlesham Heath. Tuesday 1st June 1943: Southend reverts back to Hornchurch sector. It later changes again back to North Weald Sector Control. Saturday 12th June 1943: 137 Squadron arrived from RAF Manston with Westland Whirlwinds. Wednesday 30th June 1943: 137 Squadron re-equip with Hurricane IVs. Sunday 8th August 1943: 137 Squadron departed to Manston. Tuesday 17th August 1943: 1488 Fighter Gunnery Flight moves in from Martilesham Heath with 2 Miles Masters, 2 Miles Martinets and 7 Lysanders. Monday 6th September 1943: 611 Squadron arrived from Coltishall with Supermarine Spitfire LF5b’s Thursday 16th September 1943: 234 Squadron arrived from West Malling with Supermarine Spitfire Mk6’s. Tuesday 12th October 1943: 350 Belgian Squadron arrived from Hawkinge with Supermarine Spitfire Mk5b’s Friday 15th October 1943: 234 Squadron departed to Hutton Cranswick. Monday 18th October 1943: 1488 Fighter Gunnery Flight renames as 17 Armament Practice Camp. Tuesday 26th October 1943: 349 Squadron arrived from Friston with Supermarine Spitfires. Sunday 31st October 1943: 350 Belgian Squadron departed to Hawkinge. Wednesday 10th November 1943: 349 Squadron departed to Friston. November 1943: 148 Gunnery School formed. Tuesday 16th November 1943: 66 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire LF9’s. Tuesday 30th November 1943: 66 Squadron departed to Hornchurch. Thursday 2nd December 1943: 317 Squadron arrived from Northolt with Supermarine Spitfire Mk9’s. Saturday 18th December 1943: 317 Squadron departed to Northolt. Monday 20th December 1943: 222 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire Mk9’s and LFIb’s. 1944: RAF Southend is selected to become a V1 Barrage Balloon Network Site. Monday 3rd January 1944: 413 Polish Squadron arrived from Odiham with Hawker Typhoons. Friday 21st January 1944: 501 Squadron arrived from Hawkinge with Supermarine Spitfire Mk9’s. February 1944: No17 APC 9 Miles Martinets, 1 Miles Master 3's and 10 spitfire Mk9s. Friday 4th February 1944: 501 Squadron departed to Hawkinge. Sunday 6th February 1944: 41 Squadron arrived from Tangmere with Supermarine Spitfire Mk12’s. Friday 11th February 1944: B17 31694 of 351st BG crash-landed due to battle damage after raid on Frankfurt burned on field. Tuesday 22nd February 1944: 41 Squadron departed to Tangmere. Tuesday 22nd February 1944: 312 Squadron arrived from Mendlesham with Supermarine Spitfire LF9b’s. Wednesday15th March 1944: 413 Polish Squadron departed to Thorney Island. Friday 12th May 1944: 19 Squadron arrived flying North American Mustang 3’s Friday 18th February 1944: The airfield returned to North Weald Sector after the closure of Hornchurch Sector From February to May ten squadrons used the camp for training. Friday 3rd March 1944: 312 Squadron departed to Mendlesham. Sunday 5th March 1944: 331 Norwegian Squadron arrived from North Weald with Supermarine Spitfire Mk9’s. Monday 13th March 1944: 331 Squadron departed to North Weald. Tuesday 14th March 1944: 313 Czech Squadron arrived from Mendleshan with Supermarine Spitfire Mk9’s. Monday 20th March 1944: 313 Squadron departed to Mendlesham. Tuesday 21st March 1944: 332 Squadron arrived from North Weald with Supermarine Spitfire Mk9s. Monday 27th March 1944: 332 Squadron departed to North Weald. Tuesday 28th March 1944: 310 Squadron arrived from Mendlesham with Supermarine Spitfire LF9’s. Tuesday 4th April 1944: 222 Squadron arrived from Hornchurch with Supermarine Spitfire LF9b’s. Sunday 9th April 1944: 222 Squadron departed to Selsey. Wednesday 12th April 1944: 302 Poznanski Squadron arrived from Deanland with Supermarine Spitfire Mk9’s. Friday 14th April 1944: 302 Poznanski Squadron departed to Deanland. Saturday 22nd April 1944: 66 Squadron arrived from Bognor with Supermarine Spitfire LF9’s. Monday 24th April 1944: 66 Squadron departed to Bognor. Thursday 11th May 1944: B17 42-107147 "Sweet Melody" 303BG 360C(SQN) divert to Southend due to damage gear collapsed target Checchini. Friday 12th May 1944: 19 Squadron arrived from Ford with North American Mustang 3’s. Saturday 20th May 1944: 122 Squadron arrived from Funtington with North American Mustang 3’s. Sunday 28th May 1944: 122 Squadron departed to Funtington. Monday 29th May 1944: 19 Squadron departed to Funtington. June 1944: 287 Squadron moved in with Airspeed Oxfords, Bristol Beaufighters and Lysanders in an 'Ack Ack' and fighter coordinator role. The R.A.F Regiment used the station as a transit camp for a short time. Wednesday 12th July 1944: 127 Squadron arrived from Tangmere with Supermarine Spitfire Mk9’s. Sunday 23rd July 1944: 127 departed to Tangmere. Monday 24th July 1944: 74 Squadron arrived from Selsey with Supermarine Spitfire Mk9’7 and LF9e’s Friday 1st September 1944: Back to Hornchurch Sector Control. Friday 1st September 1944: Placed under 'Care and Maintenance' for the rest of the War. Through-out the war years Southend was used by many aircraft as an emergency landing ground. By the end of hostilities a total of 752 high explosives had been dropped on Southend, there were also countless V1 Doodlebugs, Incendiary devices, Paramines and Butterfly bombs. A total of 29 men, 24 women and 7 children were dead with a further 394 seriously wounded, the low child rate was due to the fact that most of the towns children had been evacuated. Tuesday 31st December 1946: Airfield de-requisitioned. 1946: Air Training Corps, Air Ministry Southend Gliding School opened.
1946 - 1960 Civilian Flying Takes Off Friday 1st November 1946: Squadron Leader Bernard Collis appointed first airport manager with Alan Fincher of the towns Engineers Department becoming his assistant. Tuesday 17th December 1946: Sammy Norman becomes the first pilot to land at the still unlicensed airfield in a Percival Proctor flying from Le Touquet. Tuesday 31st December 1946: The Southend Corporation was granted a licence to operate the airfield the early days of the airport saw a great deal of gliding carried out for the ATC Cadets. 1947: Squadron Leader Jack Jones established East Anglian Flying Services. EAFS had just De Havilland Puss Moth G-ABKZ which operated a regular service between Southend and Rochester. 1947: The Municipal Flying School starts up. 1947: Air Charter founded by Freddie Laker. February 1947: Southend Municipal Flying School opened. This was the first flying school opened by a Municipal Council. Sunday 5th January 1947: East Anglian Flying Services move on the airport. Owned by Squadron Leader “Jack” Jones, the new company had a single Airspeed Courier and used it for pleasure flights and Ad Hoc work and war surplus De Havilland Dragon Rapide’s. Saturday 9th August 1947: Airshow to Celebrate the Opening of Southend Airport. 1948: East Anglian Flying Services add a new Miles Aerovan and four ex-RAF Dragon Rapide’s (Dominie) to the fleet. 1948: Customs facilities were set up and flights to the Channel Islands and Ostend started by East Anglian Flying Services, who had vastly increased the fleet by five DH Dragon Rapide’s and a single Miles Aerovan (G-AJKI) 1948: Illuminated flying billboards. Local electronics company E. K. Cole (EKCO) modified a number of ex R.A.F Rapides to fly as illuminated billboards to advertise EKCOVISION unfortunately upset most local television sets as the aircraft passed over head so the venture was scrapped only four Rapides ever flew in this set up these were G-AKRN, G-AKRO, G-AKOV and G-AKJZ. July 1948: East Anglian Flying Services launch Southend-Rochester service. Thursday 30th September 1948: Air Training Corps, Air Ministry Southend Gliding School closed due to increased traffic. 1949: Airspeed AS-5 Courier G-ACVF ( X9437) Scrapped. January 1949: Bovingdon based Aviation Traders (Engineering) Ltd (ATEL) set up a base at Southend. The re-location of Aviation Traders was to help maintain the ex R.A.F Halifax's and the Haltons of Bond Air Services that were used for the Berlin Air Lift one of the aircraft ex R.A.F machine RT937 G-ALOS flew 161 sorties during the operation. Monday 16th May 1949: First night time landing, a Crewsair Douglas DC3 landed after portable flares were set up along the runway. 1950: Bond Air Services operate Handley Page HP.71 Halifax's carrying textiles and fruit to Southend from Lille. 1950: Handley Page HP.71 Halifax A.IX G-ALYJ RT776 Scrapped. The aircraft had been flown into Southend for conversion into a civilian Halton the work was never carried out. 1950: Handley Page HP.71 Halifax A.IX G-ALYK RT785 Scrapped. The aircraft had been flown into Southend for conversion into a civilian Halton the work was never carried out. 1950: Handley Page HP.71 Halifax A.IX G-ALYL RT837 Scrapped. The aircraft had been flown into Southend for conversion into a civilian Halton the work was never carried out. 1950: Handley Page HP.71 Halifax A.IX G-ALYM RT772 Scrapped. The aircraft had been flown into Southend for conversion into a civilian Halton the work was never carried out. 1950: Handley Page HP.71 Halifax A.IX G-ALYN RT762 Scrapped. The aircraft had been flown into Southend for conversion into a civilian Halton the work was never carried out. May 1950: Bristol 175 Britannia 12905 G-ANBD Scrapped. July 1950: East Anglian Flying Services launch Southend-Jersey service. 1951: New terminal building constructed. 1951: ATEL started making the wing centre sections for the Bristol 170 Freighter. 1951: B.K.S was formed. BKS flew a wide range of aircraft including Avro Anson's, Douglas DC3's, Vickers Viking's, Airspeed Ambassadors and later the Bristol Britannia. The airline later became Northeast Airlines, which later became part of B-E-A which is now British Airways. May 1951: Handley Page HP.71 Halifax A.IX G-ALYI Scrapped. The aircraft had been flown into Southend for conversion into a civilian Halton the work was never carried out. Monday 10th September 1951: Southend suffered its worst peacetime air tragedy. When Meteor F8 VZ510 of 84sqn broke-up in mid-air and scattered wreckage over a wide area. Parts of the aircraft were found in Ramuz Drive, Beedell Avenue, Brightwell Avenue & Hainault Avenue one of the aircraft's engines was picked up near Southend Pier. The body of the pilot F/O Lionel Milliken was found still strapped into his smashed cockpit 20 minutes after the crash, whilst Mr S. Smith, Mrs A. M. Gilbert. Mrs F. Sydenham later died from injuries sustained, whilst also injured was a Mr H. Duck. The aircraft had previously been grounded for a while for repairs to earlier stress damage that it had incurred. 1953: Local flying hero L. C. "Laddie" Marmol set up Marmol Aviation. 1953: BKS Aero Charter launches a Southend-Calvi (France) service. June 1953: Dan Air founded at Southend. Dan-Air Services was founded by shipping agency Davis & Newman Ltd with a single war surplus Douglas DC3 Dakota their stay at Southend was relatively short re-locating to Blackbushe in 1955. The airline grew an became one of the largest in the United Kingdom, during the 1980s when tour operators began to launch their own airlines Dan Air saw a decline in profitability. In 1991 the airline made a loss of £35million, with the airline in terminal decline British Airways bought the allying airline for the token sum of £1 at the end of 1992 and the iconic brand faded into history. Saturday 20th June 1953: National Air Race. Southend was then selected to host the 1953 National Air Race it was held on June 20th with thousands turning up to watch the event it was eventually won by L. A. "Clem" Pike in his D.H Chipmunk G-AKDN and the Norton Griffiths trophy was awarded to W. P. Bowles who flew Miles Messenger 2a G-AJYZ. Wednesday 2nd September 1953: Avro 688 Tudor 4 G-AGRF delivered by road to Aviation Traders. 1954: Another good year for the airport with Air Charter (an associate company of ATEL) being formed it operated the flights of Channel Air Bridge which went between Southend and Calais and later on to Ostend and Rotterdam. The service was mainly provided by Bristol Freighter MK 31's a small number of MK 32's were also used. 1954: BKS Aerocharter rename to BKS Air Transport Ltd. 1954: Avro 688 Tudor 4 G-AHNK 'Star Lion' Fuselage used for cargo door mock-up for the Super Trader 4B. February 1954: Avro 688 Tudor 4 G-AGRF scrapped. 1955: A busy one for the airport East Anglian started a service to Rotterdam and during Easter a regular service was launched to Calais, followed by Ostend, Rotterdam, Guernsey and Paris. February 1955: Air Charter begins using the Douglas DC4 for troop carrying flights. Thursday 14th April 1955: First Air Charter Bristol B170 Freighter car ferry flights to Calais. Sunday 15th May 1955: BKS launch a service from Southend to Leeds and on to Belfast. It was a three flights a week service with the 36-seat Dakotas. October 1955: Channel Air Bridge Bristol Southend - Ostend route opened. Saturday 1st October 1955: Sabena opened Southend - Zestienhoven (Netherlands) with Bristol B170 Freighters. Monday 17th October 1955: Air Charter open their Southend-Ostend service. Sunday 6th November 1955: De Havilland Tiger Moth G-AMSY crashed. 1955/56: The two runways were put down the main runway 06/24 and the cross runway 15/33. Only the main runway 06/24 is now used with the central part of 15/33 being used as the central taxiway and the end part as a park for airliners waiting maintenance or in store. 1956: Freddie Laker's Aviation Traders had by this time ventured in to aircraft design and bought 252 Percival Prentice trainers from the R.A.F. Monday 25th June 1956: The first of the civilian Percival Prentice fly’s as G-AOKT (VS382). August 1956: Avro 688 Tudor 1 G-AGRJ Air Charter “Star Celia” Scrapped. Monday 1st October 1956: East Anglian Flying Services launch twice daily service to Rotterdam Airport. 1957: Miles HPR.145 M65 Gemini G-AMEJ Scrapped. This aircraft had a relatively short life gaining its Certificate of Airworthiness Certificate of Airworthiness 21st December 1950 it was operated by Balfour Marine Engineering Company Limited at Stapleford, the aircraft was loaned to Miles Car Hire in Southend, the Certificate of Airworthiness expired in June 1955 whilst the aircraft was still at Southend. 1957: East Anglian Flying Services add two Bristol B170 Freighters to fleet. Friday 12th July 1957: Lockheed L1049G Constellation N7109C of TWA made an emergency landing with a starboard engine on fire, she had been on route to Stansted carrying US Army servicemen, TWA sent its flying repair station Fairchild C-82 Packet N9701F (ET-T-12) to get the aircraft back in the air. November 1957: Tradair set up. Tradair flew the Vickers Viking its fleet consisted of G-APOO, G-APOP, G-APOR (POP and POR were ex-Kings Flight machines and were use for the Royal Flight to South Africa). The same year East Anglian was also expanding its fleet they acquired Bristol Freighters G-AICT and G-AIFO four Vikings and later on a number of DC3's. During the year a number of the Southend based airlines amalgamated these were Airwork, Transair and Hunting Clan Airways these four airlines became British United Airways. 1958: African Air Safari’s launch service to Johannesburg with a Vickers Viking. 1958: Miles M.38 2A Messenger G-AKKI crash. 1958: East Anglian Flying Services add two Vickers Vikings to the fleet. These are put on to the high density routes to the Continent and Channel Islands whilst the Doves are used on the feeder services to Southend. Wednesday 5th March 1958: Percival Prentice G-AONS (VS687) departed on the long flight to Melbourne Australia. The aircraft reached its destination on Tuesday 29th April 1958. The aircraft had first flown on Sunday 2nd March 1958 upon arrival it was re-listed as VH-BAO, however, its flying career in Australia was short lived as the aircraft was written off at Cobar, New South Wales on Sunday 24th March 1960. Christmas Eve Wednesday 24th December 1958: A busy Christmas. A heavy dense fog engulfs England closing down every airport except for Southend, the airport handles 56 arrivals, until lack of space closes the airport, only then does the fog roll in. The Douglas DC3’s are parked on the grass that was to become the GA park, the other aircraft are parked on every available bit of apron, taxiway and even runway 33/15, aircraft included: Aer Lingus Vickers Viscounts EI-AFV, EI-AFY, EI-AJK, Air France Vickers Viscounts F-BGNN, F-BGNO. Consolidated Constellation F-BAZM, British European Airways Douglas DC-3 Dakota’s G-AGJZ, G-AGZD, G-AJIA, G-ALTT, G-ALXK, G-ALXL, G-AMDB,G-AMDZ, G-AMGD, G- AMJX, G-AMNW. Vickers Viscounts G-AMOE, G-AMOG, G-AMOH, G-AMOK, G-ANHB, G-AOHJ, G-AOHS, G-AOJD, G-AORD, G- AOYH, G-AOYJ, G-AOYO, G-AOYP, G-AOYR, G-AOYS, G-AOYT, G-APEY, G-APKF, Eagle Airways Vickers Viking G-AMNX, Vickers Viscount G-APDX, Douglas DC-6A G-APON, Hunting Clan Douglas DC-6A G-APNO, Jersey Airlines De Havilland Heron G-ANLN, KLM Douglas DC-3 Dakota PH-DAA, Vickers Viscount PH-VIB, Consolidated Constellation PH-LDN, Lufthansa Convair CV.440s D- ACEX, D-ACIB, Morton Air Services De Havilland Dove G-ANAN, De Havilland Heron G-AOXL, Sabena Convair Cv.440 OO-SCJ, Silver City Douglas DC-3 Dakota G-ANAE, Transair Douglas DC-3 Dakota G-AMYJ. January 1959: Air Charter becomes a section of Airwork Ltd. 1959: Air Charter launch "No Passport" day trips to France in DC4 G-ANYB. Monday 23rd February 1959: Curtis C46 Commando N4086A Air Service Training visited the airport.

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