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15 October 2014
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RAF ground crew story

by Warden D

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Archive List > Royal Air Force

Contributed by 
Warden D
People in story: 
Ken James
Location of story: 
No 7 Radio School London, RAF Fern Hill Shropshire, RAF Lubeck Germany
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
29 December 2003

I currently work for the National Trust at a property called Stowe Landscape Gardens which is near Buckingham. We recently held a 1940s weekend and as part of the research for the event I interviewed Ken James who is currently a National Trust volunteer at Stowe Landscape Gardens near Buckingham.

Ken recalled his days in the RAF to me. “I joined the Royal Air Force in June 1943, a few days after my 18th birthday, having volunteered and been sworn in some months earlier”.

Ken recalls “After initial training of square bashing, I was posted to London for technical training as a wireless mechanic. Six months at South-East London Technical College on basic principles followed by four months at No 7 Radio School in the museum complex in South Kensington”.

“After completing the cause I was posted to RAF Fern Hill, Shropshire, where I worked on aircraft radios of various aircraft including the Miles Master, North American Harvard’s and of course Spitfires! In 1945 I was posted to RAF Gatwick where I worked on transmitters and direction finding installations”.

After the war Ken was not immediately demobbed. “In 1946 I went to RAF Lubeck in Northern Germany, again on transmitters for a while before going to a small detachment on the Baltic coast. There I looked after the radio transmitters on the Air to Ground firing range and bombing range. Together with radios or High Speed Launchers used on Range Safety duties together with providing Air Sea Rescue facilities for the Baltic” says Ken. “I was demobbed from there in 1948 with the Rank of Corporal”. And as anyone who ever served in the Forces knows, you never forget your number “ 1720358 Corporal James Sir!.”

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - RAF Ground crew

Posted on: 07 January 2004 by norman freeman

I read with interest your activities during ww2. I enjoyed similar experiences during my 5 year tenure in the raf. Although I became a so-so electrician via RAF Melksham and wirked on various planes in Belgium with a R>U. I also worked in the shop servicing starter motors and generators, that was not very challenging work. I did enjoy keeping in service many different aircraft, Spitfires ( changing batteries was a chore) Hurricanes ,Lancasters and many more. They were memorable days and supply many memories pleasant and otherwise. I suppose we should celebrate life because so many of us cannot. Keep on writing, I do wish someone from my old unit would get on board. Best wishes Norman Freeman 1588772 LAC


Message 2 - RAF Ground crew - Channel 4 Series on Bomber Crews in WW2

Posted on: 22 June 2004 by Bombergirl

I also read with interest your article about your service as Ground Crew.

Specifically with regard to a project I'm working on for Channel 4 Television about Bomber Crews in WWII. The series will chart the course of Allied bombers throughout the War.

We have been speaking with some fantastic bomber crew veterans about their personal experiences during the war. But one of the areas that we're particularly aware of, is the huge debt that Britain owes to the large numbers of Ground Crew who, day in and day out, ensured that the aircraft were in working order ready to take to the skies at a moment's notice.

If you or anyone you know were Ground Crew working with Bombers and are interested in speaking to us, please give me a call (0207 013 4564) or e-mail me on '

Many thanks in advance.

Zara Akester

Assistant Producer
RDF Media

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