Kenley on D-Day

Kenley's former Wing Commander, "Johnnie" Johnson, with Sally the Labrador at B-2 Bazenville, France, in July 1944. Kenley's last three RCAF fighter squadrons were based there as part of 127 Wing, from 16th June, 1944.
RAF official photographer. Public domain.

By June 1944, Kenley had been left behind as our Forces moved forward on the offensive. The last of Kenley’s Canadian squadrons had left for Tangmere in April, and the remaining station personnel were involved in a clean up of the airfield after the trials of the early War years. 

Kenley’s Station Diary recorded 6th June with a new-found detachment…

6.6.44. “Known officially as “D” Day. On this Tuesday was launched the invasion of Europe from the west. Evidence of abnormal activity was provided by the almost ceaseless passage of large numbers of aircraft over the aerodrome throughout the day.”

Over at Tangmere, 403 squadron RCAF, who had fought from Kenley for most of the previous year, were feeling the anticipation building as D-Day approached amidst a flurry of briefings and preparations…..

Sunday, 4 June, 1944

“The big day must really be at hand because we woke up this morning to find that all of our kites had been painted with black and white stripes.  No flying at all today but we did have a ‘Gen’ talk by the Intelligence Officer pertaining to D-day.”

Monday, 5 June, 1944

‘B’ Flight was on readiness at 0400 hours and at 0430 hours a section was on a sector recco over France.  Then, at about 1100 hours, two of the kites were scrambled and did a patrol.  No more flying was done for the rest of the day.  We certainly feel that great happenings are in the offing as tonight we are all confined to camp and sure enough we all attended a ‘Gen’ session with all of the pilots of 126 and 127 Airfields in the Mess at 126.  The long awaited big day is here at last.

Tuesday, 6 June, 1944

“D-Day.  At about 0630 hours this morning, the Wing, including our Squadron was on its way.  And what a show, it was almost beyond description; boats of all shapes and sizes, destroyers standing off from the shore and pounding away at Hun positions and giving covering fire for the landings.  Our second show at 1200 hours was quite uneventful, no Huns were seen and our landing forces seemed to have made very definite progress.  Two more patrols finished off the day without a Hun being sighted.”

Kenley’s days as a fighter station were over and the skies around the airfield would soon be infested with balloons, as the barrage was set up to counter a new menace in our skies – the doodlebug.

 

403 squadron RCAF Operations Record Book.RAF Kenley station diary.

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