The REAL history of Langar started in 1942, (just about the time I was born) when the MOD built the airfield for Bomber Command. In late 1942, the first users of the airfield, 207 Squadron, with Avro Lancasters, flew many missions fom here, mostly to bomb Berlin, often with Incendiary and the unreliable and dangerous ‘Cookie’ bombs. One Lancaster, with a full bomb load, crashing on take-off and making a large hole in the ground to the North of the 01 runway. Over 270 aircrew lost their lives on missions from Langar, all in the space of nine months.
One famous mission was the trip over Berlin with Wynford Vaughan-Thomas of the BBC, which he recorded live on a disc recorder, the first such event.
The airfield then reverted to care and maintenance until used to store Horsa gliders for the invasion.
I hope to account some of the tales of 207 squadron in the future – there are some remarkable stories!
One Mission from RAF Langar in August 1943
I was just scanning through the BMFA classifieds when I came across your posting for the fly-in on the 13 and 14 May. On discovering you are based at the old Langar airfield I looked up your club history section and noticed you might be looking for old stories from the RAF days.
I found the piece below when researching my Uncles last mission as a Lancaster pilot.
Wing Commander George Blakeman OBE RAF(Retd) was traced just a few days before attending this event at East Kirkby which took place 60 years and a day since F/O Blakeman took off as Navigator in the Pearcey crew in Lancaster EM-D ED498 from RAF Langar to attack Milan on 15th August 1943.
On their way they passed directly over Cabourg on the Normandy coast north of Caen. After 15 minutes on track for their next turning point – the southern tip of Lac Annecy – they were hit by a nightfighter which inexplicably did not continue its attack. Nevertheless the port inner engine overheated and had to be shut down. They decided it would be safer to continue to Milan than to return on their own to Langar. On their homeward journey, over Cabourg again and almost over the Channel, George saw a bright flash down in the bay. The next he knew the aircraft was on fire and in a vertical dive.
With just one buckle of his parachute connected, like the rest of the crew he was pinned by gravity, unable to move. Through a window he watched as the rivets in the wing root changed colour as they melted… He regained consciousness two days later, tended in a French farmhouse, guarded by German soldiers.
The other six members of his crew lie together in a cemetery in Houlgate (Beuzeval) Communal Cemetery, Calvados, France.
PS – My Uncle was the (Bob) Pearcey referred to in the text.
I thought you might be interested.
Some 207 aircrew