Eye witness accounts 1939-1945

 RAF Cardington 1939 - Kenneth Rogerson

Third day or thereabouts - on the parade ground with your corporal for drill. ie marching, marching, marching. About turn, left right, left right, right left.. And another jab.
The remaining days - the other days were similar, by the time we were told we were going to Skegness for our drill course we thought we were pretty good at marching. Oh no not likely! We soon found differently at Skeggy.

RAF Cardington January 1944 as told by Graham Gill...

"I was a new recruit at Cardington a long time ago. I was an Aircraftsman 2nd class - you couldn't get any lower. I was in Hut 334 and the Commanding Officer was Squadron Leader Sallow who excelled in discipline. But I am proud to say that Hut 334 or I should say the occupants of Hut 334 got a 36hr leave pass for being the cleanest hut in Cardington. Whilst I was at Cardington for eight weeks we were regular visitors to the Corn Exchange in Bedford where we could get a good cup of tea and a scone.
From Cardington I went to RAF Halton for my Flight Mechanic course then on to 24MU in Shropshire and that was it. For nearly three years they required my services in the Middle East. I have no regrets I met some grand lads and I still have a few ex RAF pals...."
Thank you Mr Gill (again curtesy of The RAFA club Bedford.)

Graham H Gill 17.01.1944 hut 334

Aircraftsman 2nd Class Graham Gill at RAF Cardington Jan 1944.

Graham H Gill2 on a Wellington Egypt

Graham Gill on a Wellington serving in Egypt

*The map of RAF Cardington shown in the 1939-1945 section gives an indication of where hut 334 was located.

The following extracts are taken from stories gathered by the BBC during 2003-2006 as part of a project entitled 'WW2 Peoples War' which aimed to record personal memories of life in WW2.
'I remember my father bringing home parachutes (he worked for the Air Ministry) and my mother would make clothes for us - Father also made us shoes by plaiting rope (bright red and orange) and used the material from barrage balloons cut into strips and sewn to make straps to fasten them. We thought they were lovely and now in 2004 I still have some of this coloured rope!' Sylvia Baker (nee Roberts) Clapham, Bedford
'When we lived in Acacia Road, I would go up in our bedroom when there was a lightning strike because if they didn't get the balloons down quickly enough at Cardington they would explode. Sometimes they got free. They would send a fighter to shoot them down. One got free and bounced around at the back of Moulton. They camouflaged the balloon sheds to look like big apartment blocks.' Michael Darlow, Bedford
'One of my sisters was making the barrage balloons in the fabric shop and the other one was in the Drawing Office where they used to do the designing of the balloons and that. Towards the later part of the war they not only made barrage balloons but they also made tanks and guns of fabric. Blow up tanks and guns as decoys in Europe. On the Front Line they would be quite effective I suppose from the air...' Gerald How, Bedford
'We used to listen to Lord Haw Haw broadcast on the radio and he was pretty well clued up, they were the Germans as to what was going on because one thing in particular was that as you go from Bedford to Cardington, towards Shortstown there used to be a bridge that you'd cross and at that time they were doing some road works on it, rebuilding it - and do you know, Lord Haw Haw announced that on the radio!' Gerald How, Bedford


Bedford Home Guard

I have seen other photos of Home Guard groups on the camp during WW2 - perhaps local groups received their training at RAF Cardington? Can anyone comment? If you recognise anyone in the photos please get in touch it would be nice to pass on more information to David about his family.

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