News from the Kenley Revival Project

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August 2020

Welcome to the Kenley Revival Project Newsletter.

'The Hardest Day' - 80th anniversary

On the 18th August, we will be remembering the devastating air raids that took place 80 years ago, killing 10 of RAF Kenley's personnel, as well as further casualties in the surrounding area. 

The writer, Virginia Woolf was probably one of the most famous witnesses to the incoming raid, which passed close to her house near Lewes, in Sussex.


"Monday 19 August 1940 – Yesterday, 18th, there was a roar. Right on top of us they came. I looked at the plane, like a minnow at a roaring shark...... The closest shave so far."


The Luftwaffe launched three major assaults across the south-east of England, intending to cripple the RAF's Fighter Command for good in preparation for an invasion of Britain. The 18th August became known as 'The Hardest Day' because it marked the largest number of aircraft put out of action on a single day of The Battle of Britain.

Despite bearing the brunt of precisely targeted low-level bombing, RAF Kenley stood firm and was back in action the following day. 

We have added several new articles about 'The Hardest Day' to the Kenley Revival website, including this Introduction and Casualty list, which aims to explain the raids, link together the material that we have collected and remember those who lost their lives. 


On 18th August, St. Lukes Church, Whyteleafe, will be open from 10am to midday for those wishing to pay respects or offer prayers - six of the men who lost their lives at RAF Kenley on 18th August 1940, are buried in the churchyard. 

Please remember to bring a mask.

More information here

Photo: One of No.615 Squadron's Hurricanes damaged on the ground at Kenley, 18/8/1940. 

Corporal 'Vic' Bashford's Memories of the Kenley during the Battle of Britain

One of the highlights of this month has been the chance to chat at length with the amazing Frederick Victor Bashford, who was ground crew with "B" Flight of No.615 Squadron. His story of The Battle of France and then Britain is really remarkable. 

You can read Vic's story here

We are indebted to Vic for being so generous with his time.

Photo: Vic Bashford

Artefacts Of The Month

Earlier this month Kenley was honoured with a visit from Carol Brown and family, who brought along a wonderful collection of documents and memorabilia related to Flight Sergeant 'Pat' Glover, Carol's Mum, who served at Kenley through the Battle of Britain. 

You can read about 'Pat' here and see a letter she received from 
Petrus "Dutch" Hugo, of No.615 squadron, here.

The Leason family have also generously allowed us to add items relating to Flight Sergeant Douglas Leason, including his letters home from 1940. You can read them here

Do you have anything relating to RAF Kenley you can share?

We have an amazing online archive where you can upload memories, photographs, documents or links to other online sources which relate to RAF Kenley's history. We rely on the community to help us build what could be the most extensive resource of all things relating to RAF Kenley's past.  Get in touch with us via our website, Twitter and Facebook.

Photo: ©Carol Brown

Article of the Month

Kenley's Blast Pens

Neil Broughton has written a wonderful article about Kenley's blast pens which examines the different methods used for construction and includes plans. 

You can Neil's article here.

Photo: Neil Broughton

Sheila Wilkie's Memories of Douglas Bader

This month we had the opportunity to talk to Sheila Wilkie about her recollections of working for Douglas Bader post-war at Shell Aviation Ltd. It was great to have the chance to speak to someone who knew him personally. 

You can read Sheila's memories here

Photo: Sheila Wilkie
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