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Conservation works progress – RAF Kenley’s defensive architecture

As our Conservation works are now in full swing we at Kenley Revival HQ are often asked to explain the unique defensive architecture. These features characterised the period of which RAF Kenley is often seen as the most preserved example. Here is a brief summary of the key architectural features you can spot at RAF Kenley: Revetment A revetment is a parking area for aircraft surrounded by blast walls on three sides. These walls were to protect not only the parked aircraft but also other aircraft from each other as planes were at risk of fire or damage. The walls around a…

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June 2017 – RAF Kenley airfield’s centenary

June 2017 marks the centenary of the establishment of Kenley as an aerodrome. At the start of June 1917, a 230-strong Royal Flying Corps (RFC) detachment, including men from the Canadian Forestry Corps, arrived and immediately started felling trees, some nearly 100 years old, and clearing scrub on Kenley Common. For local people this was the first indication that an airfield was to be built.  And, notwithstanding a public outcry and questions being asked in Parliament on 5 June, development of the aerodrome progressed at a rapid rate. Prior to June 1917, the common land had formerly been used as…

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Burying the new RAF Kenley tribute timecapsule

The time has come at Kenley Revival HQ to bury the new RAF Kenley tribute timecapsule. The original timecapsule is now safely stored with the project team as we couldn’t unfortunately salvage much from the original time capsule due to the condition of its contents. However this gave us an opportunity to create a new timecapsule which not only captured the history of the original RAF Kenley tribute installation in 2000 but also to include contents regarding the project and its origins which have led us to this day where we have relocated the RAF Kenley tribute as part of…

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Conservation works progress – A story in concrete…

If you haven’t been to Kenley Common recently you may be surprised by the amount of progress that has been made to the conservation of the Zone 2 side of RAF Kenley. Zone 2 includes the three pens nearest to the fuel dump of the North East side by Whyteleafe Bank. These pens also include our highlight blast pen where the original spinewall is still intact allowing us to recreate this structure in the RAF Kenley tribute blast pen once the tribute has been relocated forward. These concrete structures have not been exposed since they were built by April 1940…

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RAF Kenley tribute – unearthing the past

As the RAF Kenley tribute relocation works enter their final stages we at Kenley Revival HQ were incredibly fortunate to open up the original time capsule and take a first look at an object and its contents which has been buried for 17 years. The original time capsule was buried when the RAF Kenley tribute was installed in 2000 and was put together by the RAF Kenley tribute committee. The committee crowd funded the money required to design, build and install the RAF Kenley tribute and continue to raise funds annually to this day to pay for repairs. The Kenley…

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Conservation Works are underway!

It’s truly an exciting time as our Conservation works programme is now fully underway with both our contractors onsite. They’ll be onsite all summer and autumn completing various degrees of conservation and in some case restoration of all the blast pens, fuel dump and rifle range. The works once complete will mean the monuments will be taken off the monuments at risk register compiled by Historic England and safe guarded for future generations to learn and engage in Kenley’s significant Battle of Britain history. Phase 1 – RAF Kenley tribute relocation Work has begun by Stonewest on the dismantling and movement…

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For king and another country – Sqn Ldr Mahinder Sigh Pujji

From British aces Doulgas Bader and Johnnie Johnson, to the great South African Sailor Mann and American Art Donahue, Kenley had always been host to some of the greatest WWII pilots from all over the world. Perhaps none more so — and what is often overlooked in history — than the many skilled Indian Sikh pilots who served here, particularly, fighter pilot Mahinder Singh Pujji. Pujji first arrived in the UK in August 1940 after responding to an RAF recruitment ad he saw in India. He was given the King’s commission in October that year and within weeks was sent…

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Ann Welch – Aviatrix Extraordinaire

Ann Welch piloting her glider (Christian Gad) To date, most of our stories about Kenley have featured men. To mark International Women’s Day 2017 on 8 March it’s time to record the amazing life of one of Britain’s foundation glider pilots who had a Kenley connection. Ann Welch (1917-2002) was a world class glider pilot and an aviator who flew more than 100 aircraft types, from gliders to Wellington bombers. She was keen on aviation from a young age: her parents’ home in Bickley, Kent was under an approach route to Croydon, the main London airport during the inter-war years.…

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18 August 1940 – A German Perspective

Personal account of the raid on Kenley by Ralf von Pebal, a Luftwaffe photographer with the 9 Staffel/KG76 Photograph taken by the author of Kenley’s northern peritrack and a revetment during the raid On the early morning of 18 August 1940 we drove to the airfield in preparation for a low-level mission against England. Gradually our friends and comrades arrived. There is great tension. After a departure delay of one hour we took off. Oddly, each of us has the uncertain feeling that today not everything will go smoothly. At 13:20 we took off, all nine aircraft of the 9th…

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Two Weeks in July 1942

RAF Kenley is probably best known for its key role in the Battle of Britain, but it continued to be a prominent fighter station for the remainder of the war with many squadrons crossing the airfield boundaries. All the squadrons are commemorated on the RAF Kenley Tribute, one such squadron was 350 (Belgian) Squadron. Formed at RAF Valley on Anglesey in November 1941, by July 1942 the squadron was part of 11 Group. Arriving on 16 July 1942 from Martlesham Heath, 350 brought its Spitfire Mk. Vs and a Magister aircraft to Kenley. Member of 350 squadron in a Magister…

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