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RAF Honington remembers World War Two attacks which killed at least seven and injured 20



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Luftwaffe attacks on RAF Honington which killed at least seven personnel 80 years ago were remembered last Wednesday.

Michael Dudley, 80, visited the station to remember his uncle Aircraftman 2nd Class George William Leslie Dudley RAFVR, IX (B) Squadron, who was killed while crossing the parade ground on his way to tea on the evening of August 19, 1940.

He was 20 and had been in service for two weeks.

Photo of Michael’s Uncle and Father together (41134413)
Photo of Michael’s Uncle and Father together (41134413)

Michael said: “I am here as much for my father to remember his dear brother – they were devoted and shared everything as they grew up.

“My father didn’t know about George’s death for a month until his mother’s letter reached, as he was based in Ciracao in the West Indies.”

A small ceremony held at RAF Honington last Wednesday meant a lot to Michael, whose father Arthur was also killed in World War Two, serving near Arnhem in October 1944.

Aerial View of attacks; parade square, BB76, and E Hangar (41134415)
Aerial View of attacks; parade square, BB76, and E Hangar (41134415)

Joined by the station commander, station warrant officer and station padre, Michael visited the former mess where his uncle died.

Records vary, but at least seven personnel were killed and more than 20 injured during two surprise attacks by the Luftwaffe that day.

The first, at around 4.15pm, was by a single aircraft using high explosives and incendiaries.

Machine gun damage can still be seen today on the exterior of the former Junior Ranks Mess (41134419)
Machine gun damage can still be seen today on the exterior of the former Junior Ranks Mess (41134419)

The second attack, at around 6.25pm, resulted in damage to barrack block 76, destroyed two Wellingtons and a Magister, destroyed part of E Hangar roof and left craters on the aerodrome.

Recalling the event, IX (B) Squadron Sergeant ‘Tiny’ Cooling was dining in the Sergeants Mess at the time. He said: “We heard the whistle of a stick of bombs coming down and immediately the dining room took on the look of the Marie Celeste. Plates of food steamed gently and not a soul in sight. We were under the tables.

“One bomb hit the parade ground and killed a number of airmen and WAAFs in that lunch queue, about a dozen. Another hit the barrack block and blew it to bits, and another blew in the window of my quarters.

Station Warrant Officer Mac Macdonald, Michael Dudley, Station Commander Gp Capt Matt Radnall, Rob Williams, Padre Craig Lancaster (41134112)
Station Warrant Officer Mac Macdonald, Michael Dudley, Station Commander Gp Capt Matt Radnall, Rob Williams, Padre Craig Lancaster (41134112)

“When the racket died down, most of us sat back at the table and finished our lunch. We would find out what happened later.”

Bullet holes can still be seen on the exterior of the former Junior Ranks Mess, where the attacking aircraft machine gunned those queuing outside for their tea.

A wreath was laid at the RAF Association Memorial to those who died at RAF Honington and in remembrance of Michael’s uncle George and his father Arthur.

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