High over Folkestone Hawkinge lies,

Up on the hills where they reached for the skies.

When pilgrims came from over the sea

Heading for ancient Canterbury

The Saxon people had their home

Round the edge of our aerodrome.

These fields we want to save for ages

Have taken the weight of history’s pages.

Over the fields where the young men died

When the bombers came, there was nowhere to hide,

But still they came to this forward station

Men who would fly to save our nation.

Not only ours, but others came,

Poles and Frenchmen just the same.

In the first world war, or so we’re told,

When flying men were very bold,

The SE5’s and the Sopwith Camel

Were taken over across the Channel

To help the war on the Western Front

Or join in an enemy aircraft hunt.

Mail by air from Hawkinge went

Over to France, over to Ghent,

To help the Belgians after the war

And it started the cargo carrying corps.

Bringing news of life and birth,

Throwing a mantle round the earth.

Spares for engines, food and stores

Kept them going between the wars.

Whilst the world rearmed and played

At aerial acrobatics, Squadron 25 was made,

Tied with bunting and with string

Came that special fighter wing.

And whitewashed hangars could be seen

From across the Channel with eyesight keen.

In the early days, when navigation

Was a problem to us all,

Compasses were very few then

So they lined up on Hawkinge Hall.

Killing Wood was oft a landmark

For the flyers from above.

Oh how very pleased they were then

To come down on the field we love.

As the clouds of war assembled,

As our drooping spirits trembled,

Men in all our forward bases

Put their aircraft through their paces.

Home guards sat like painted statues

Round the edges of the ‘drome

Ammunition sadly lacking

For the arms they’d brought from home.

Some with wooden rifles furnished

Some with only pitchforks armed

Staring out across the acres

That were green and should be farmed.

Some had been at Monns and Arris,

Some had been at Dardenell,

These old men had seen some fighting,

Only they had known that hell.

As the Arian armour neared us,

As the allies let them through,

Came the booming German bombers

And the ME fighters too.

“Out to Hawkinge send the fighters,

Let them risk their lives from there!”

“Forward bases for all aircraft,

Send them where the ground crews care!”

In the backroom here at Hawkinge

Dynamo was set to work,

Planning how to bring our troops back,

Ever nearer to Dunkirk!

Whilst at Maple Farm, the lassies,

German speaking, every one,

Understood the U-Boat Captains

And plot the course they run.

Using Hawkinge, 8 Lysanders

Dropped supplies to Calais town

Numbers 2 and 613 lads,

They were nearly all brought down!

Spitfire squadron, 41 group’

Hurricanes of 245

Tried to help the Dunkirk fellows,

Very few returned alive.

The Defiants we had hopes of

Proved disaster from below

And the Germans got the lot of

On that day so long ago.

Germans now have reached the Channel,

Only water holds them back.

Do they really know our weakness?

Do they really know our lack?

On a Monday eve in August

When the Luftwaffe came down,

Waited till our planes had left us

Came in screaming from the town.

Came the dreaded German bombers

Line abreast across the sky,

Bringing death and desolation,

Many lads are bound to die!

Suddenly across the airwaves

Came the call of 32

“Have to land and get some fuel up

And the ammo’s almost through!”

Landing gently midst the craters,

Tired crews were getting out,

When across the shattered airfield

Came again the klaxon’s shout.

88’s were flying lower,

Fire bombs fell across the ‘drome.

No one helped us, so the Stukas

Just turned left and headed home.

Three or four more times the strafed us

In the weeks that followed on.

Never whole days out of action,

Still the ground crews struggled on.

Now the tides of war are turning,

Now the early dawn patrol,

High above the clouds they traversed,

Observation was their goal!

Search and see along the coastline,

Just what Jerry is about,

Poke and pry above the skyline,

See what they can ferret out.

Orders came, “Do not engage them,

If you see a foreign plane,

Turn around and run for home lad,

Bring your news back here again!”

But, Jim Crows, for that they called them,

Flying high at dusk and dawn,

Spotted everything that happened,

Spotted every movement born.

But they soon forgot their orders

Not to dive and have a go,

Specialised in close encounters

On the transports down below.

Oh, Jim Crows were very special,

Individuals every one,

Though they came from different countries,

Were the same behind that gun!

Meanwhile, back at little Hawkinge,

Where the fuel and spares were kept,

Failing aircraft came for rescue,

Even so, they often wrecked.

But again those blessed ground crews

Rescued, comforted and fed,

Gently took them from the cockpit,

Many of them, sadly, dead.

Air sea rescue with Lysanders

And the gallant Walrus too

Were established here at Hawkinge,

Fishing out the ditched crew.

Saved our airmen from the water

And some Jerry blighters too!

As the plans for the invasion

Were developed here at base,

Squadrons then from other airfields

Helped us to step up the pace.

How they fooled the Axis planners

Into thinking we would strike

Up this end, across the Channel,

Going for the Dutchman’s dyke.

Hawkinge station took the squadrons,

Czech and Dutch and Belgians flew.

Aussies and Canadian fellows

Only stayed a week or two.

Such the pressure, such the danger

And the lack of sleep was so

Overcoming that their stay here

Was a case of touch and go.

Then the fighter escort kites

Flew out over bomber flights,

Deep into the Fatherland

For the bombing raids they’d planned.

Underneath the fighter’s wing

Extra petrol tanks they’d swing

So that on the way far back,

They could intercept attack.

Keep our bombers to return,

That was now their chief concern.

Doodlebugs with pre-set ranges

Brought about some dreadful changes

For the folk in North Kent towns.

“Try to drop them in the sea boys,

Or before they cross the Downs!”

“Not as easy as it sounds lads,

For they fly so very fast.

Fly too close and you’re engulfed

In that dreaded HE blast.”

“Out of ammo? Fly beside it,

Give its wing a gentle tip,

Turn it over as you pass it,

Stop its dreadful nightmare trip.”

Once the peace had broken out,

Once the crowds had ceased to shout,

Life at Hawkinge settled down,

Brought the ladies in from town.

Tried to drill them into shape,

Tried to tie them in red tape.

Now the field is greening over,

Planted out with sweet pink clover

For the sheep to safely graze

Where so often thick white haze

Had misled the early flyers

Heading North to distant shires.

So they called them Hawkinge Hoodoos,

Dreaded so much by The Few crews.

Field that still the traces show

From the air, down here below

The pattern of the bygone ages

So marked out for history’s pages.

Saxon, Roman and Spitfire

Dwelt upon our chalky mire.

Many feel such passion for

Comradeship, left from war.

Can we tolerate the thought

That this grass, so dearly bought,

Should be hidden under bricks,

Lost beneath the builders’ tricks?

When for all time it should be

Left for everyone to see.

Green, green field, no concrete there,

The only one that’s left to spare

And to show those early flyers

Just took off between the byres.

All brave, some foolish but may

They be remembered for eternity.

History as Evidence by Pat Lamb

This poem was written by Mrs Pat Lamb as part of the campaign to save Hawkinge Aerodrome from the developers. Even though there was considerable opposition to the plans, building went ahead and there is more still in progress.

The Aerodrome

Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a’s

Sopwith Camels

Sopwith Snipe

Hawker Fury

Gloster Grebe

Armstrong Whitworth Siskin

Gloster Gladiator

Hawker Demon

Hawker Audax

Hawker Hector

A Home Guard Troop

Ground Crew helping Pilot.

Ground Crew at work

British Tommies manning Bofors

anti aircraft gun.

Boulton Paul Defiant

RR Griffon engined

Supermarine Spitfire

 Messerschmit ME 109

Hawker Hurricanes

Spitfire

Junkers JU 87 Stukas

Hurricane and Spitfire

ME109

Spitfire 1

Spitfire Mk XII’s

Supermarine Walrus

Westland Lysanders

V1 ‘Doodlebug’

V1 ‘Doodlebug’

No 31 Advanced WRAF GST Course,

Hawkinge, August 1955

Hawkinge Gate Guardian

Slingsby Cadet Glider

Glider ready to go

105 Squadron, Hawkinge

RAF Hawkinge Gate

Grasshopper