RAF Little Snoring – Honours and Awards

RAF Little Snoring – Honours and Awards

Aviation Trails

In the heart of the Norfolk countryside stands a quaint little church with a round turret. Standing proud on top of a hill just outside the nearby village, the church holds a rare and unique collection of war records.

RAF Little Snoring (Trail 22) was home to a number of squadrons including the rare Bristol Hercules engined Lancaster IIs of both 1678 HCU and 115 Sqn and latterly units of 100 Group flying amongst others, the DH Mosquito.

At the end of the war the airfield was closed down, used primarily as a storage site for surplus aircraft prior to scrapping.

Many of the buildings were pulled down and runways dug up returning the site to its primary use of agriculture. Whilst a small section survived along with two hangars and a now derelict control tower, the church has become the holder of a rare collection.

In the…

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RAF Little Snoring – not a sleepy village 70 years ago.

Thank you so much for this trail.

Aviation Trails

The second airfield on this part of the trail, takes us further north, to a little village and small airfield. It also features one of only a few round towered churches that hold some remarkable records of the region’s history.

RAF Little Snoring

Little Snoring is as its name suggests, a quiet hamlet deep in the heart of Norfolk. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, it boasts a superb round towered church (another called St. Andrew’s) that holds a remarkable little gem of historical significance.

various 002 The Village sign shows Little Snoring’s aviation history. The airfield, to the North East, was originally opened in 1943, late in the war, as a satellite for nearby Foulsham. It had three runways: 2 constructed of concrete 4,199 ft (1,280 m) in length, (01/19 and 13/31) and one 07/25 of 6,004 ft (1,830 m) again in concrete. As with other airfields it was a typical ‘A’ shape…

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Little Snoring, 1945

Worth reblogging don’t you think?

RAF 23 Squadron

First post

April 5, 2010

This could be the start of the amazing story of the airmen of a forgotten squadron in Little Snoring.

Please leave a comment…

Picture taken in 1945 before the squadron was disbanded (Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith)

Squadron 23

No. 23 Squadron formed at Fort Grange, Gosport on 1 Sep 1915 under the command of one of the RAF’s most experienced operational pilots – Captain Louis Strange. After a brief period attempting to counter German airship flights over London, the Squadron moved to France with its FE2Bs initially employed on escort duties. By early 1917, Spad single-seaters had arrived, and were being used on offensive patrols. By the end of the War, the Squadron had converted to Dolphins, and flew these until disbanded at the end of 1919.

On 1 July 1925, No. 23 Squadron reformed at Henlow with Snipes, but these were replaced…

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Little visit to Little Snoring

Courtesy of Peter Smith via Tom Cushing.

Peter had this message to go along…

Pierre,

Tommy did something really special for me in January, he took me up in his plane, from yes you guessed it, see the pictures…

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To really enjoy these pictures, you have to read this I wrote when I first met Peter on the Internet…

Now a little drive down memory lane…

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Little Snoring

Last year, I knew nothing about Eugène Gagnon.

Pat Rooney’s caricature of “Gene”

And certainly nothing about Little Snoring.

Want to know more on the base where Eugene Gagnon flew all his missions except one…?

Click here.

Lest We Forget

Picture courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

If you know any of these aviators, please contact me.

Little Snoring, 1945

First post

April 5, 2010

This could be the start of the amazing story of the airmen of a forgotten squadron in Little Snoring.

Please leave a comment…

Picture taken in 1945 before the squadron was disbanded (Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith)

Squadron 23

No. 23 Squadron formed at Fort Grange, Gosport on 1 Sep 1915 under the command of one of the RAF’s most experienced operational pilots – Captain Louis Strange. After a brief period attempting to counter German airship flights over London, the Squadron moved to France with its FE2Bs initially employed on escort duties. By early 1917, Spad single-seaters had arrived, and were being used on offensive patrols. By the end of the War, the Squadron had converted to Dolphins, and flew these until disbanded at the end of 1919.

On 1 July 1925, No. 23 Squadron reformed at Henlow with Snipes, but these were replaced shortly after with Gloster Gamecocks. In 1931, the Squadron was tasked with carrying out trials on the new Hawker Hart two-seaters, taking the production version, known as Demons, on strength in 1933. It wasn’t until late 1938 that the squadron received its first monoplanes in the form of Blenheims, and these were used as night-fighters in the early days of World War II whilst based at Wittering. In 1941, Havocs replaced the Blenheims, and these were used with great success in the intruder role, until themselves replaced by the Mosquito in mid-1942. At the end of the year, the squadron moved to Malta in support of allied operations in the Mediterranean before returning to the UK in 1944.

In September 1945, the Squadron had disbanded, reforming a year later at Wittering with Mosquito night-fighters. By late 1953, Venom night fighters had joined the Squadron, before Javelin all-weather supersonic fighters replaced these in 1957. In 1964, the Lightning replaced the Javelin, and it was with this classic aircraft that the squadron continued until Phantoms were received in late 1975, this coinciding with a moved to Wattisham in Suffolk. After the Falklands War in 1982, the Squadron occupied Port Stanley airfield until reduced to a Flight of four aircraft in 1988, reforming at Leeming with Tornado F3s. Defence cuts following the end of the Cold War saw the unit disbanded in March 1994. No. 23 Squadron was again reformed, this time as part of the Waddington AEW Wing in 1996, sharing not only the aircraft with the already established No. 8 Squadron, but operational duties in Europe and the Gulf.

The Squadron was officially disbanded on 2 Oct 2009.

This Squadron has been virtually reformed…

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If you have any information about 23 Squadron and you wish to share what you know, you can contact me using this form.

Revisiting the Past

This is what I have been doing here on this blog since 2010.

Yesterday someone shared this picture on Facebook.

He took it with his cell phone.

The photo is part of his father’s souvenirs at RAF Tholthorpe. RAF Tholthorpe was where RCAF No. 420 Snowy Owl and RCAF No. 425 Alouettes were stationed. Flight Sergeant John Rawbon was attached to these two Bomber Command’s squadrons. His collection of photos is most impressive.

 

This small photo though really made my day yesterday…

Mosquito PZ313
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A pilot visited RAF Tholthorpe most probably after VE-Day. I don’t believe it was an emergency landing since RAF Tholthorpe is not anywhere in the vicinity of RAF Little Snoring. Any emergency landing would not have been made at RAF Tholthorpe by a RAF 23 Squadron Mosquito.

This being said who would be visiting after VE-Day RAF Tholthorpe who had the only French-Canadian squadron of the RCAF stationed there?

A French-Canadian Mosquito pilot with RAF 23 Squadron?

Eugène Gagnon DFC

I guess we will never be sure…

In Memoriam Arthur Cockayne

Note

I wrote a post in April 2010 about Tommy Smith’s navigator. I don’t have a picture of Arthur Cockayne just a painting commissioned by Peter Smith, Tommy Smith’s son.

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Arthur Cockayne did not survive the war. There is a follow-up to what I wrote back in 2010.

***

Peter received this e-mail from someone in December 2008. It all about his father’s navigator. If you are related to Arthur Cockayne, write me a comment and I will get in touch.

Here is the e-mail he got about Cockie…

Arthur Clarence COCKAYNE

Flying Officer 157435

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died on sortie to Germany on Tuesday 16 January 1945

Arthur was the eldest son of William Charles and Alice Barker Cockayne of 73, Darlaston Road, Walsall.

He was educated at Queen Mary’s Grammar School, where he was a member of the O.T.C., and later took a position as a student teacher at Hillary Street School.

Following this he attended Dudley Training College and was then appointed by the London County Council at their Highgate School.

When the war started and the children were evacuated from London, Arthur moved initially to Bedford High School and then to Northampton.

Volunteering for service in July 1941, he trained as a radio operator/observer and commenced his first tour of 250 flying hours in the Middle East, receiving a commission in 1943.

In March 1943 he was married at St. Gabriel’s Church, Sunderland to Vera Wardle, daughter of Mr and Mrs Wardle of 12, Montrose Gardens, Sunderland and a Domestic Science teacher at Diamond Hall School, Sunderland. Following the wedding the couple honeymooned in the Lake District. A son was born to the marriage in July 1945.

Returning to England, Arthur transferred to 23 Squadron who were based at Little Snoring near Norwich. From July 1944 onwards this squadron flew Mosquitos on night intruder operations. He flew in a Mosquito Mk VI, serial number RS507, coded YP-C with Flight Lieutenant T. Anderson-Smith as his pilot.

Serving as the navigator, Arthur had to do just one more flight to complete his second tour of duty when he was shot down over Germany.

Arthur took off from his base at 5.39pm on Tuesday 16 January 1945 for an intruder sortie over Stendal in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. His aircraft crashed at 9.30pm this night at Beckedorf, 3 miles south west of Hermannsburg. Frederick was killed in the crash and initially buried in the local cemetery. Flight Lieutenant Anderson-Smith survived the crash, albeit badly burned, and was taken prisoner.

Arthur is buried in Becklingen War Cemetery in Grave 13.F.9. He was 35 years of age.

***

This is what I received from someone Saturday night.

Hi Pierre

Please find attached the photo of the grave of AC Cockayne.

My uncle, Fl.Lt. Alexander John Fowler 422654 was killed on February 22nd 1945 during operation Clarion. His Mosquito PZ395 from 487 Squadron was piloted by Wing Commander Baker, the Squadron Commander. They were shot down and killed by railway flak, and in close proximity another Mosquito from their squadron was also brought down, crewed by PCW Sage (pilot) and J Cockburn (navigator). Pilot and navigator were buried in a single coffin, and the two coffins (both crews that is) were buried in the village cemetery of Bevern, just south of where they died. Later, they were reburied at Becklingen, where they are buried together. Immediately to the left of these 4 graves is where I spotted AC Cockayne’s final resting place.
My Uncle Alec trained in Canada in 1942, was in 214 Squadron using Short Stirling heavy bombers, then in 161 supplying the French Resistance, then training crews on using H2S Radar, and finally in from December 1944 in Mosquitoes.

Jonathan Markley

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To live in hearts
we leave behind
is not to die.

Photo courtesy Jonathan Markley