At around 9.25am on 17th January, 1938, three Gloster Gladiators of No.65 Squadron took off from their base at RAF Hornchurch for formation flying practice. The flight had been ordered by F/Lt. Leslie Charles Bicknell so that a relatively inexperienced pilot, Sergeant Geoffrey Edwin Gaskell, could get some formation practice with two of the squadron's more accomplished flyers - Pilot Officer Adrian Hope-Boyd and Pilot Officer Roland Robert Stanford-Tuck.
On 12th September, 1918, Lieutenant Frederick Plummer took off from Kenley in an Armstrong Whitworth FK8, (F3453), on a ferry flight to France. He had ascended to 200ft and started to turn, when a gust of wind caught the aircraft and it lost flying speed and nose-dived into the ground, wrecking the machine and killing Frederick instantly.
On 16th September, 1917, Captain Cecil Griffin took off from No.7 Air Acceptance Park, Kenley, in Sopwith Camel B6302. His engine mis-fired badly when he was about 400 yards from the airfield boundary and the aircraft plunged earthwards..
10 August 1944 would be the blackest day for 615 Squadron and not due to enemy action...
Ernest Leonard Bailey was born on 19th March, 1920, in Birdham, Chichester, where he worked as a painter and decorator. Realising he would soon be called up, Ernie volunteered to join the RAF, thinking that would be better than the infantry. He enlisted at Uxbridge on his 20th birthday, in 1940, and was sent to Morecombe to do his Initial training.
I was posted to RAF Kenley, for my National Service, and after the initial disappointment, I settled in there, and had a most wonderful time. The senior officer was terrific, not a disciplinarian, left us to self discipline, which was a credit to him, and I believe helped us to become better people.
Following their departure from Kenley on 21 April 1941, 615 Squadron continued to operate the Hawker Hurricane as their mount on travels to Wales, Kent and finally India. Stationed at Alipore, near Calcutta (Kolkata), it was not until 30 September 1943 that they began swapping their Hurricane IIs for Spitfire Vs.
The story of how a startling entry in RAF Kenley's station diary led us to the tragic death of an Indian Air Force pilot.
Aaron Aaronsohn, was born 21st May, 1876, in Bacau, Romania. However, he spent most of his life in Palestine and was an ardent zionist.
Captain Jefferson was the son of Thomas Elgie Jefferson and Evelyn E. S. Jefferson, of Ballahott, Ballasalla, Isle of Man; husband of Muriel Jefferson.