2017 marked the centenary of the establishment of Martlesham Heath in Suffolk as an airfield. As part of the MH100 centenary celebrations, we collected a range of personal stories relating to the area for our "Spitfire Story Trail".
The trail consisted of decorated model Spitfires that were located at the main event held on the 8th and 9th July 2017. Each model was themed to a quote and included one or more QR codes that people could scan with their smartphone to watch the associated stories.
The collection of stories are now available below.
Martlesham Heath was first used as an airfield for the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 where it started its role evaluating and testing many aircraft types, armament and other equipment. The Spitfire was tested at Martlesham Heath before becomming one of the most iconic fighter aircraft of WW2. In WW2, the airfield became the most northerly base for fighter command hosting Squadrons of Bristol Blenheim bombers, Hawker Hurricanes, Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Typhoons. No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron, a squadron formed of American volunteers, operated from the station in the middle and end of 1941.
In this story former pilot Stanley Chambers talks about his memories of flying Spitfires in WW2 and his experience of shooting down flying bombs.
Stanley lived in Ipswich, Suffolk and passed away recently aged 101.
"On a wing and a prayer"
In this story Stanley Chambers talks candidly about his memories of flying Spitfires in WW2.
Vic Skeets served as a technician at Martlesham Heath. In this story he talks about the Hawker Hurricane and an unusual cover for his photo album.
"MEMORIES OF BADER"
In this story Vic Skeets talks about his memories of serving at Martlesham Heath and his encounters with Douglas Bader.
Group Captain Bader was one of Martlesham Heath's most legendary pilots. He was a Royal Air Force flying ace during the Second World War and was credited with 22 aerial victories, four shared victories, six probables, one shared probable and 11 enemy aircraft damaged.
THE 71ST EAGLE SQUADRON
"We have seen the stuff of which you are made and we could not ask for better companions to see this fight through to a finish"
In the early stages of WW2 a number of volunteer pilots from the US travelled to the UK to fight with the RAF. These volunteers made up the Eagle Squadrons. The 71st Eagle Squadron was based for a time at Martlesham Heath. While sadly none of the pilots are still around, some of their friends and relatives shared their stories with us here:
Rod Stewart reflects on his father Hubert Layton "Bert" Stewart, who served as an Eagle in Martlesham Heath.
In this story Lee Cognetta talks about when the Eagle Squadrons were formerly handed over by the RAF to the USAAF..
"NOTE OF THANKS"
In this story Robin Coen talks about her father, Oscar Coen, serving in the Eagle Squadron.
"JOINING THE EAGLES"
In this story Andy Ward talks about his father, Rufus Clyde Ward, serving in the Eagles.
"A Diabolical Plot"
In this story Michael Peterson talks about his memories of his father, Chesley Peterson, who served in the 71st Eagle Squadron at Martlesham Heath.
"FINISHING THE JOB"
In this story Carleen McPharlin Baily talks about her memories of her father, Michael George McPharlin, who served in the 71st Eagle Squadron at Martlesham Heath.
In this story Martha Gayford shares her memories of her brother, Peter Provenzano, one of the members of the 71st Eagle Squadron.
"A SPECIAL DAY"
In this story May Shiro talks about her memories of her brother, Peter Provenzano who served in the 71st Eagle Squadron at Martlesham Heath.
Martlesham Heath has continued to flourish beyond its life as an airfield and is now a thriving residential and business community. These stories reflect on the last flight from the airfield and the opening of the Post Office Research Centre (now Adastral Park).
In this story Jim Empson talks about the last flight out of Martlesham Heath.
In this story Clifford Smith talks about his memories of the opening of the Post Office Research Centre and a visit by the Queen.
For more of our stories, please also see our Vimeo Channel.
Do you have stories of Martlesham Heath or the 71st Eagle Squadron? Please contact us as we'd love to hear from you.
Read more about the MH100 project here