Graveley


No. 35 Squadron was stationed at RAF Graveley from 15th August 1942 to 18th September 1946 when it moved to Stratishall


Location

RAF Graveley was constructed to the west of the village of Graveley, 5 miles south of Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire (Cambridgeshire).

It was built on land primarily owned by Cotton Farm and it resulted in the closure of the ancient Roman Way which ran through the land.

Construction / Layout

Construction (by W & C French) started in 1941 and the airfield was available for use in the spring of 1942.

The main airfield site consisted of:

  • a perimeter track, with dispersals
  • 3 (interlocking A shape) runways
  • 4 hangars
  • a technical / administrative site
  • a watch office (control tower)

The perimeter track (peritrack) linked the three interlocking “A” shaped runways, the thirty-six dispersals, the four hangars and the bomb stores site.

The thirty-three “pan” and three “loop” dispersals were utilised to spread the aircraft around the airfield to minimise damage in the event of an airfield attack or aircraft explosion.

The aircraft were repaired, serviced, refuelled and armed on the dispersal.

The airfield was initially constructed with three, interlocking A shape runways:

  • 1 x 1600yds
  • 1 x 1320yds
  • 1 x 1307yds.

In the summer of 1942, these were extended to:

  • 1 x 2000yds
  • 1 x 1420yds
  • 1 x 1407yds

There were four hangars, three type T2 (for use by RAF personnel) and one type B1 (for use by Ministry of Aircraft Production civilian personnel). These were utilised for major repairs / modifications.

The technical / administrative area contained the workshops, storage areas, offices, training facilities and control rooms that were needed to support the activities of the squadron(s) and station personnel that were based at the airfield.

The dispersed sites, which provided living quarters for station / resident squadron personnel, were sited away from the main airfield.

There were 9 domestic sites, a communal site and a sick quarter.

The bomb store site was located in the south-west corner, away from the main airfield.

The site consisted of:

  • 3 x Component Stores
  • 9 x Fuzing Point Buildings
  • 3 x Fuzed Bomb and Spare Bomb Stores
  • 12 x HE Bomb Stores
  • 5 x Large Incendiary Bomb Stores
  • 4 x Pyrotechnic Stores
  • 2 x Flame Float and Smoke Float Stores
  • 4 x Small Bomb Container Stores
  • 2 x Small Arms Ammunition Stores
  • 4 x Small Incendiary Bomb Stores

The whole site was interconnected by a single or double trackway to enable the bomb trains to carry the bombs from the stores to the fuzing points and then on to the dispersal pads for loading onto each aircraft.

Earth traverses were used throughout the site to limit the impact of any blast.

The following photographs (which are not from RAF Graveley) are included for information purposes only as they show some of the components of the bomb store site:

An example of an open HE bomb store with earth traverses

An example of a bomb train entering a Fuzing Point building

Inside a Fuzing Point building where the bombs are about to be armed

A FIDO system was installed at RAF Graveley to enable aircraft to take off and land in fog or snow.

A network of pipes was laid along the edges of the runway and in foggy conditions fuel was pumped through the pipes at 100,000 gallons per hour and ignited. The heat generated caused the fog to rise to up to 200ft and the flames highlighted the outline of the runway.

It was first used operationally in November 1943.

The FIDO pumping station [© IWM (CH 15275)]

The petrol is ignited [Extract from British Pathe News Film]

[© IWM (CH 15271)]

Airfield Incidents

The following airfield incidents occurred whilst the squadron was based at RAF Graveley:

Graveley Memorial Stone

A granite stone was unveiled on Saturday 29th June 1991 to commemorate Graveley airfield and to honour all those who had served there during the war years.

The unveiling, which saw the culmination of four years of fund raising and preparation work by the 35 / 635 Squadron Association, was carried out by its patron, Mrs. Ly Bennett and was followed by a short dedication ceremony by Rev Peter Taylor, honorary Padre to the Association.