Quiet Dorset farmland was once the base for a daring D-Day raid and the home of in-flight refuelling. Ken Ellis reflects on an airfield’s remarkable history
In the first minutes of June 6, 1944 three Halifaxes from 298 Squadron and a trio from 644 Squadron crossed the Normandy coast between Ouistreham and Dives, on the eastern edge of the D-Day invasion front. Each was towing an Airspeed Horsa assault glider and, after separation, the tugs would continue to strike a target at Caen.
At the helm of the lead Horsa was 24-year-old Staff Sgt Jim Wallwork and alongside him Staff Sgt John Ainsworth, both very experienced members of the Glider Pilot Regiment (GPR). Shoehorned into the fuselage were 31 members of ‘D’ Company, the 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, part of the 6th Airborne Division.