A Grand New Book has been written see note at bottom of page

 

Ask and it shall be given to you, 

seek and ye shall find, 

knock and it shall be opened unto you ...

 

 

RAF    DOWNHAM

 

            Was an important war time airfield built on the higher flat land of Bexwell to the north of the church and to the east of Downham Market from which the airfield took its name . Some of it still remains today .

 

            The airfield and buildings were constructed in 1941- 1942 as a satellite station  for RAF Marham and for the heavy Stirling bombers which were unsuitable for the previous satellite station at Barton Bendish .

 

            From the start it had concrete runways and dispersal areas .  The first squadron was 218 which arrived in August 1942 and was initially involved in minelaying but later in night bombing duties over Germany and Northern Italy.

 

            It was during one raid over Turin that Flt Lt Aaron , wounded by flak , managed to get his aircraft and crew to safety though he died some little time afterwards, and he was awarded the VC for this action .

 

            623 squadron was formed from C company of 218 squadron and they were flying Stirling Mk lll from Bexwell from August 1943 and continued the heavy bombing raids over Germany .  The Horsa gliders were stored at Bexwell for a time before they were needed for the D Day landings in June 1944 .

 

            214 squadron took over also on night bombing duties .  Then there was a lull between Jan and March 1944 when 635 squadron took over with their Lancaster Mk 1 and later Mk V1 which were used for pathfinder duties over Germany .  In August 1944  Sq Ldr Bazalgette took off with his crew to bomb rocket storage facilities in France when the aircraft was hit and set on fire.  Sq Ldr Bazalgette  continued with the mission to mark the target accurately , and then the plane was crash landed and subsequently exploded killing the remaining crew .  Sq Ldr Bazalgette was posthumously awarded a VC for this action..  The squadron was disbanded in Sept 1945 .

 

            The final phase of the airfield was with the Mosquitos of 608 Squadron and they carried a huge number of sorties over industrial targets in Germany until the end of the war .  All flying ceased by August 1946 and the station was decommissioned in Sept  .  It was finally sold in 1957 .

           

            The present condition of the airfield shows it at the end of its natural life , the concrete runways are almost gone, the small breeze block buildings falling derelict and the main A runway was buried under the new A 10 road to King`s Lynn many decades ago .........A wooden memorial plaque to the two Victoria Cross holders stands on a grassed area just off the lane to the church .  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.A.F. BEXWELL MEMORIAL : Battle of Britain . Sunday 16th September , 10 am .

Here are some pictures of the event that started at 10 am with the Royal Air Force Association acknowledging the two Victoria Crosses awarded to RAF Bexwell ( Downham Market) servicemen , for valour during World War 11 ..........at the VC memorial, St Mary`s Bexwell , on A 1122. Then there was a nice parade at Downham Market War Memorial which started close to 10.45 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

             

I.W. Bazalgette's and Squadron pictures are the property of

The Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum

website: http://www.lancastermuseum.ca/ 

 

       

 

 

Lo I am with you always 

even unto the end of the world 

Amen.


 

NEW BOOK - Link

Colin Coverdale`s new book on 635 Squadron at RAF Downham 

 

Links

Home

       About Bexwell Church     St Mary's Church Cemetery

Bexwell  RAF Airfield,        Bexwell Census, 

 

 

 

 

Rector: Judith Grundy tel: 01366 383226

2007 info@.bexwell-church.co.uk

 

Site donated by Elizabeth Howard

Website design by Percival   

All graphics under copyrights 2007