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Towns & Villages / Re: The Brook Chatham
« Last post by Signals99 on Today at 01:43:18 »
Hi Smiffy, remember that building well,it had the name painted on the roof in white paint  you could read it from the lines ,
As many of you will know, 2017 is the 75th anniversary of Operation Fuller (the Channel Dash) and a Service of Remembrance is being held on 30th September at the Dover Channel Dash Memorial to mark the occasion.

This year's Service of Remembrance will be the last one, but the service is also important for another reason because, for the first time, No. 12 and No. 83 Squadrons, Bomber Command, will appear on the Dover memorial to mark their roles in Operation Fuller, roles which led to the award of the DFC to three of the pilots involved, Pilot Officer Norman Richardson (RAAF) of No. 12 Squadron, Pilot Officer Maurice Smith of No. 83 Squadron and Pilot Officer Robert McFarlane, also of No. 83 Squadron. In the last case, the award was a Bar to the DFC Pilot Officer McFarlane had been awarded in January, 1942. Sadly, Sergeant Leonard Garth Whibley (RAAF), the rear gunner in Pilot Officer McFarlane's Manchester bomber, died of wound sustained during the operation.

No. 83 Squadron, flying Manchester bombers, took off from RAF Scampton and flying at less than 1,000 feet located and attacked the German ships. Pilot Officer McFarlane, flying Manchester bomber L7389, was attacked by two Messerschmitt 109 fighters which were successfully driven off after three attacks, but then faced intense anti-aircraft fire as he attacked the German ships, only to find that the hydraulic systems of the aircraft had been damaged and the bomb doors were jammed shut when he attempted to drop his bombs. The aircraft turned for home and was further damaged by anti-aircraft fire but eventually landed safely, despite the severe damage it had suffered. Sadly, Sergeant Leonard Garth Whibley RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force), the aircraft's rear gunner, was seriously wounded during the operation, and died shortly after the aircraft returned to England. Pilot Officer McFarlane was awarded a bar to the DFC he had been awarded some weeks earlier for a raid over Germany.

The aircraft of Pilot Officer Smith, also of 83 Squadron, was attacked by three German fighters, two of which were shot down, although the rear gunner of Pilot Officer Smith's aircraft was wounded in the chest and hand. The aircraft had been seriously damaged during the attacks, but Pilot Officer Smith managed to bring it safely home to base, for which he was awarded the DFC.

No. 12 Squadron, flying Wellington bombers from RAF Binbrook, attacked shortly after 83 Squadron. Pilot Officer Norman Richardson, RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force), leading the attack went in below 400 feet and his bombs damaged the Gneisenau enough to buckle some of the ship's plates and allow seawater to rush in, despite Pilot Officer Richardson being temporarily blinded and also wounded in one arm by a bursting shell on the approach run to drop his bombs. He was awarded the DFC for his actions.

It is unclear how 12 and 83 Squadrons were initially omitted from the Dover memorial as the Channel Dash Association carried out considerable research on the British forces involved and had their results checked by the relevant authorities. However, as the result of an approach by Mr David McFarlane (the son of Pilot Officer McFarlane) the two squadrons have now been added to the Dover Channel Dash Memorial in time for the forthcoming 75th anniversary service of remembrance at Dover on September 30th. David is grateful to the Channel Dash Association for responding to his approach for the memorial to be amended and to The Stone Shop of East Fairleigh for making the changes.

Mr McFarlane and Mr Morley-Brown (the son of RAF Scampton's Intelligence Officer who was on board Pilot Officer McFarlane's plane during the action) and his family will be attending the memorial service on 30th September. It had been hoped that two nieces of Sergeant Whibley (the rear gunner from Pilot Officer McFarlane's aircraft who died as a result of the action) would be able to travel from Australia for the memorial service but, sadly, family matters have prevented this.
Public Events / Re: Not just the workhouse (12 October 2017)
« Last post by davpott on Yesterday at 21:23:10 »
Not just the Workhouse  -  a talk by Deborah Collins at Chatham Historical Society

A talk on Kent Poor Law Union records and the stories they reveal about the poor of Kent. It will cover a range of records not normally consulted and will show that not every one had to resort to the Workhouse.

Chatham Historical Society
Thursday 12th October 2017 at 7:15pm
Lampard Centre, Sally Port, Brompton, ME7 5BU

Visitors welcome.

I used many of the Chilham Parish Chest records during my studies for a Kent History degree. Fascinating stuff on what was run as what is known as a 'closed parish' they looked after their own and kept strangers out as far as possible. As opposed to Great Chart for example which was an 'open parish' and had tremendous difficulties looking after their poor. 

I have a strong connection to that village/fossilised medieval town my family being recorded as householders in the very earliest parish records there. 
Public Events / Not just the workhouse (12 October 2017)
« Last post by Clankypup on Yesterday at 19:50:19 »
Not just the Workhouse  -  a talk by Deborah Collins at Chatham Historical Society

A talk on Kent Poor Law Union records and the stories they reveal about the poor of Kent. It will cover a range of records not normally consulted and will show that not every one had to resort to the Workhouse.

Chatham Historical Society
Thursday 12th October 2017 at 7:15pm
Lampard Centre, Sally Port, Brompton, ME7 5BU

Visitors welcome.
Landing Grounds / Re: RAF Gravesend
« Last post by dan.brenton on Yesterday at 15:05:59 »
Hi Roger,

I am writing a report on the Lower Thames Crossing Project which crosses the historical footprint of RAF Gravesend and I would really like to know the source of your information on the Essex Aero Aluminium Smelting Plant in particular. I am sure there are other references you may have that would be useful to us. Please get in touch.

Kind Regards


Hi Mike.

This is were I really turn into an anorak I'm afraid by going into great detail about other stuff I remember about the former Gravesend Airport/RAF Gravesend, so please bear with me because its quite a lengthy post.

I really must get hold of a copy of the plan you have. I looked on the RAF Museum, Hendon's website yesterday & I've sent them an email regardng purchasing copies of maps & plans they may have, but they haven't got back to me yet.

The only hangers on the western side of the airfield might have been where the dispersals & blast pens were on the southwest and northwest corners of the airfield perimeter track. These (I'm guessing here) would possibly have been "blister" or "Besseneaux" ?? structures and must've been removed straight after the war, but I do recall a short concrete loop that encroached on the still open area of The Warren you've mentioned close to the southwest dispersal that had a series of steel hooks around the edge that were possibly used to secure parked aircraft or a canvas hanger.

There was also a flat roofed building (possiby a Squadron Office not dissimilar in design or construction to the one shown in a photograph on the West Malling thread on tis site), and  another white brick building the similar in design to the one off Thong Lane that you've photographed here. Both were situated on The Warren side of the perimeter track close to where the junior school field now is. In the same area, there was what we as kids suspected was a machine gun emplacement, surrounded by masses of barbed wire entanglements.

There was another of those white brick buildings you've described midway on the outside edge of the perimeter track which ran due east from the northwest dispersal to Thong Lane before turning south just short of reaching Thong Lane itself.

Where Thamesview School now stands (the northern wartime extension of the airfield), everything had obviously been removed at the end of the war, incuding the perimeter track and hardstandings which may have been made using summerfield metal tracking, as were I believe the 2 main wartime runways. The area covered by the northern airfeld extension, then just an open field was used by Thameside Youth Football Club. The 6' 0" high chestnut fence I've described earlier here basically followed the line of the present boundary of Rivervew Park & Thamesview School.

At the extreme northeast corner of the airfield about where the first pair of houses now stand on Riverview Park in Thong Lane, I can remember seeing a large windsock mounted on a high metal pole and a large T-shaped structure, perhaps 20' 0" high with lights along its upper edge that was obviously a form of visual wind-direction indicator for use at night or during foggy weather as it was capable of being rotated 360 degrees, depending on the prevailing wind direction at the time.

There were large metal gates on both sides of Thong Lane just north of the present junction with Leander Drive where the perimeter track branched and continued after crossing Thong Lane to the eastern wartime airfield extension, now occupied by the sports centre & golf course. As you probably are aware Mike, the approach road & car park to the sports centre is actually, (though now resurfaced), part of the perimeter track itself. On the western side of Thong Lane, the perimeter track continued roughly due south, becoming further away from Thong Lane itself the further south it went and continued in this direction until it reached roughly were Imperial Drive now stands. It then turned due east for a short stretch and just short of Thong Lane, it turned south again to almost the present boundary of Riverview Park, before turning west to meet up eventually with the perimeter track a the southwest dispersal site, thus completing a full circumference of the pre WW2 airfield, which must've been in excess of 2 miles long in all or even longer.

In the area east of the perimeter track between the current Leander Drive in the north and Imperial Drive in the south were the main bulk of the airport buildings starting with (N-S) if my memory is correct, a very large wooden building, perhaps 60' 0" long X 20' 0" wide, used after the war as a workshop by Essex Aero. Then there was the brick built control tower which had been modified considerably by the RAF in 1942 by the addition of a third storey. The control tower as I've said previously, stood approximately 25 - 30 yards west of Thong Lane itself.  Next to the control tower was the main entrance approach road onto the airfield from Thong Lane, now occupied by Whinfell Way. At the junction of Thong Lane stood the main gate and at the northern side of the gateway there was the guardroom, a single storey brick building with a flat concrete roof, later converted after the war into a nursery school for pre-school children of female workers employed by Essex Aero which I attended in the early 50's. On the opposite side of the road on the corner of Thong Lane stood a cottage which pre-dated the airport and on the eastern side of Thong Lane, directly opposite the main gate was a link road to the perimeter track on the eastern wartime extension of the airfield. On the northern side of this link road there was a very large nissan hut and roughly where the sports centre now stands, was sited Essex Aero's aluminium smelting plant where old aircraft were broken-up in the early 50's & melted down to be later made into various products such as lightweight beer crates etc. These buildings (apart from "your" standby generating house), were basically the only buildings which stood on the eastern wartme extension of the airfield.

Getting back to the main airport buildings on the western side of Thong Lane. It all gets somewhat confusing as many smaller buildings were added both during & after the war by the RAF & Essex Aero, but on the southern side of the main airport entrance road, opposite the control tower I remember there were some fuel pumps then the double smaller hanger, used by Essex Aero in the 50's as their main workshop & factory. Next stood the huge hanger built in the 1930's  by Law & Co Ltd, which as we know was dismantled in about 1961 during the constructon of Rivervew Park & moved to Baxter Fell's site in Northfleet were for many years it was used as a warehouse. To the south of that hangar stood another large wooden building used by Essex Aero in the 50's as a workshop and infront of this building was
a very large deep water tank almost the size of a swimming pool. This was rapidly filled-in during the construction of Rivervew Park after a young child fell into it & tragically drowned.

As I've said, behind the main hangars & Thong Lane, there was a plethora of buildings including a large corrugated iron building almost the same size & design as a T-Type hangar, and a old friend told me that in this area when he was a kid, he & his friends managed to break into a large underground workshop that still contained lathes etc that had been abandoned when Essex Aero went into receivership in the mid-1950's.

As you are probably already aware of Mike, the perimeter track on the eastern wartme extensions continued east  for maybe half-a-mile or more after passing what is now the sports centre, before looping first south and then west to Thong Lane. There were another pair of large gates on both sides of Thong Lane where the perimeter track continued westwards.

NB. The only surviving secton of perimeter track on the southern airfield extension did in-fact originally loop back in a roughly  north-easterly direction until it linked back to the perimeter track near to the spot that it crossed Thong Lane.

Finally, when I worked as a apprentice plumber on the site during the construction of Riverview Park, Dolphin Developments were instructed to remove all of the perimeter track, but were forbidden to use the materials removed for hardcore themselves.... that had to be sold for use elsewhere. The story goes that when the airfield was enlarged & upgraded by the RAF in 1942, the hardcore used for the foundations of the perimeter track etc consisted of 30" of brick rubble transported to Gravesend down the Thames by barges from bombsites in the East End of London. The largely flat main area of the airfield was developed by Dolphn Developments and the remainder by Messrs Billings (a locally based high-class builder) and at the time of its construction, Riverview Park was the largest private housing estate in the UK.

I'm sorry if you find this boring Mike (and other readers), but sadly so few detaled records or recollections seem to exist about this fascinating & historically important site in my view.
Public Events / Re: Salute to the 40s 2017
« Last post by Peterj on September 17, 2017, 20:41:51 »
Four of us had a spot of lunch at the old pump house (very nice) near number one basin then spent the afternoon at the Dockyard's salute to the 40's. We found it very enjoyable and went on board Gannet and Cavalier and visited most of the displays. Highlight was whilst looking at a photograph in the museum of the people involved on the building of Ocelot, a Mr Paine pointed out my dec'd brother in law Keith Slade (Foreman of the Yard) who he had known well.
Public Events / Salute to the 40s 2017
« Last post by Bilgerat on September 17, 2017, 14:33:06 »
Went to this with Mrs Bilgerat today (Sunday 17th September).

Much the same as previous years, I think the Historic Dockyard Trust is sticking with the same tried and tested formula. There were a few things I did notice though. Firstly, the event was significantly smaller than the last time I went, with displays and stalls and visitors noticably thinner on the ground. There was also no Spitfire flypast advertised. Thirdly, the admission price was lower, which I think was also reflected in the size of the event. That said, I can't say that we didn't enjoy it, despite only taking two hours to go around the whole thing. We didn't go onto any of the vessels there (I spent the best part of five years working in and around them and have been on them all a thousand times already).

In mitigation though, I think people may have been nervous about going to an event like this given the recent terrorist attack on the London Underground, although there were bag-searches at the door. The weather recently hasn't helped either. I know I'm not the only one to have noticed that autumn this year appears to have arrived early (I blame Global Warming) and Saturday's rain might have put people off.
Towns & Villages / Re: The Brook Chatham
« Last post by smiffy on September 16, 2017, 21:28:29 »
Situated on the corner of Nelson Road, the Salvation Army Naval & Military Home was opened in February 1905.

I'm not sure when the Salvation Army stopped using it, probably sometime during the 1950's. It was demolished in the 1970's prior to the construction of the Pentagon centre.
Towns & Villages / Re: King James 1, Rochester 1622 ?
« Last post by grandarog on September 16, 2017, 14:39:25 »
Baptised as Samuell  ARGALL  on 4th December 1580. at East Sutton .(2 l,s on Samuell no Y in Argall)

There are records of

                William Argall             Buried  06 Jul 1579 at East Sutton. Father Rychard
                Henry   Argall             Buried 06 Jul 1579 at  East Sutton       ----I---

                Rychard Argall           Baptised  20 Feb 1573 
                Mary Argall                Baptised  02 Nov 1573

                Kateryn Argall            Baptised  05 Jun 1575

                Benjamyn  Argall       Baptised  25 Nov 1576

          Hery Argall                 Baptised   26 Jan 1577

               Robert Argall              Baptised  27 Sep 1579

               If they were  siblings of Samuell  his  Father was Rychard Argall. The Lord of East Sutton.
               No mother names on baptism records Either  Joan or Mary.
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