RAF Tempsford was perhaps the most secret airfield of the Second World War. Home to 138 & 161 Special Duties Squadrons, it was tasked with dropping SOE Agents and supplies into occupied Europe, and the retrieval or 'pick up' of personnel returning to England.
Tempsford Museum contains a large archive of material relating to RAF Tempsford, including individual and crew photographs, documents, maps, parts of aircraft and an officers uniform. Sadly there are very few Tempsford veterans left, and a lot of their memories and photographs are disappearing. If you have any material relating to RAF Tempsford we would love to hear from you, so that we can keep this fascinating story alive.
Below is information on some of the material we hold.
Donation of Lockheed- Hudson Undercarriage - 2015
On 5th April 2015, the family of Squadron Leader Reginald Wilkinson donated the undercarriage of Lockheed Hudson T9463 to Tempsford Museum. The aircraft had took off from RAF Tempsford on the evening of 26th November 1944. On board were five men - a crew of four: the pilot Squadron Leader Reginald Wilkinson, Flying Officer John Weddell (Navigator), Flight Lieutenant Frederick Champion (Air Gunner) and Flight Lieutenant George Ash (Air Gunner) along with agent Paul Penczock, alias Paul Woderski. Their mission code name 'Fleckney' was to drop the agent near Arnstadt, Germany, well behind enemy lines. On the return journey the plane was shot down near Brisy, Belgium, close to the Luxembourg border, almost certainly by an American Fighter, killing all four crew.
On 27th November 2014, a 70th commemoration ceremony was held in Brisy, during which a piece of the undercarriage of the plane was presented to Mr Frank Wilkinson, brother of the pilot.
It was decided by the family that the undercarriage should come back to rest in Tempsford, and perhaps in some way, a little of the memory of the men who flew in her. And so on Easter Sunday, 5th April 2015 the piece was presented to the Museum in a small ceremony, and unveiled by Reg's brother Frank.
Pictured below are the crew of T9463
RAF Uniform belonging to Freddie Clark
empsford Museum is home to a WWII RAF uniform belonging to Freddie Clark who was a pilot on SOE duties flying out of Tempsford. Clark was shot down on 1 April 1944 over Vallee de Cousee, France. Comprising of a Flight Lieutenant's tunic with RAF cloth brevet and WWII riband bar with brass King's Crown buttons, trousers and peaked cap. We also hold an original letter from Clark's Commanding Officer to his family dated 10 April 1944 which reads as follows - 'I am sending you your Boy's Tunic and Trousers for you to retain at home. These should normally be sent to the R.A.F. Central Depository, Colnbrook, but I thought it would best for you to have them. I am sending these unofficially and I do not want it to be known I have sent them. There is no news, alas, and I am unable to help you with any message. I only wish I could, but I will say that it is never advisable to abandon hope until there is some definitive news. I was talking to him at length the day before he was missing and he was telling me of his plans. I have not forgotten that yesterday was his 21st birthday'. We also house the main gyro and bomb sight recovered from Freddies aircraft and given to him after the war by the local villagers.
Freddie Clark was born in 1923 in Walthamstow, Essex. He was educated at Beal Modern Boys School, Ilford. He joined No.4 Squadron Air Defence Cadet Corps (Ilford) in February 1939 and in 1941 joined the RAFVR. After completing training he was posted for Flying Training with the South African Airforce. Returning to Britain in 1943 he continued with conversion training, finally flying Halifaxes with No.138 (Special Duty) Squadron at Tempsford. Clark was shot down over France and after a considerable number of weeks of evasion he was capured by the Germans and taken to Stalag Luft III on 17 June 1944, he was released at the end of the war.