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Wevelgem flugplatz (The Allied story)

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by arneken, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. arneken

    arneken Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    Likes Received:
    I already opened a topic about the german side (http://worldwar2talk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=223) and this is his Allied counterpart.

    The Allied forces liberated Wevelgem in 1944. Soon after that they found the airfield interesting for their own warfare. the damaged airfield was repaired and soon after that the first squadrons arrived.

    Groupe de chasse 1/2 cicognes where one of the 2 French squadrons who staid a while in Wevelgem.

    A piece about wevelgem airfield viewed from No. 151 Repair Unit.

    The Merlins, Alisons and Griffons roar,
    The Sabres Rattle,
    The Wasps Sting,
    The Cyclones Blow,
    The little Lycomings purr away.
    These engines left our good unit for those on high, flying above and around us.
    In their going out and their coming safely back, the Aircrew thanks go to 151.
    The story of 151 enshrines the past,
    As leaf by leaf,
    So day by day,
    Year by year,
    Reunion after reunion,
    The stories of our lives unfold.
    Our eyes grow dim, our hair turns grey,
    Could we, but have read when 151 began
    That the story of our works would stand?
    Through all our days and all our nights
    Until the enemies were put to flight
    - Epitaph to No. 151 Repair Unit (Aircraft), 2nd Tactical Air Force,
    Wevelgem, Belgium, 1944-45, by Harold E Jacobson, ex. 151RU(A)
    In September 1944, three Queen Mary lorries, each loaded with an aircraft engine test bench, and a Hillman Utility loaded with emergency rations, arrived at Wevelgem Airfield, near Brussels in Belgium. This was an advance party from No. 151 Repair Unit (Aircraft) - or 151RU(A) - a detachment of the 2nd Tactical Air Force.
    Wevelgem itself had had a pedigree flying history, having been used by German flying ace Baron Von Richthofen during WW1, and from 1942 by the 'Top Guns of the Luftwaffe', the JG26, under the jurisdiction of legendary Jagdgeschwader General Adolph Galland.
    But in 1944, Wevelgem was back under Allied control, initially under a Free French squadron of Spitfires. By the time the main unit of No. 151 Repair Unit (Aircraft) arrived in October 1944, the advance party had already established three aircraft engine test benches in position and ready for work. Eventually, there were six benches;
    1. two for the Merlins
    2. one for Wright-Cyclones
    3. one for a Pratt and Witney Twin Wasp
    4. one for a Lycoming
    5. one for Griffon engines (for the Spitfires of 610 Squadron)
    In addition, a Hawker Typhoon EJ693 was adapted by 151 RU (Repair Unit) as a test bench for Napier Sabre engines. All in all, the unit was able to service nine aircraft of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, four British and five American.
    1. Spitfire (British)
    2. Typhoon (British)
    3. Mosquito (British)
    4. Tempest (British)
    5. Mustang (US)
    6. Boston (US)
    7. Mitchell (US)
    8. Marauder (US)
    9. Auster (US)
    Standard propellers were used with a depression box to take the engines up to their rated altitudes. Notably, this was the only engine test bench facility in the 2nd Tactical Air Force and played a vital role in keeping the aircraft flying. And from the first engine test in November 1944, the two Merlin benches worked three shifts a day, day-in, day-out, until beyond VE Day, 8 May 1945.
    During that period, at Christmas 1944, the men of 151RU(A) gave a festive party for the 2,000 or so children of Wevelgem. It was the same time as the Ardennes Offensive.
    'We served the children carrying our Sten Guns and two clips of ammunition, whilst serving the children with currant bread and cocoa as the Germans dropped their troops behind our lines. One of the young children, Anny, sang God Save The King, in English. She is now is a very close friend of ours, and her husband Etienne Vanackere is now curator of the Wevelgem Airfield Museum.'
    - Harold E Jacobson​
    Harry Jacobson formed part of the advance party arriving at Wevelgem from RAF Odiham in September 1944. With his wife Min, and uniquely for an English couple, he was invited to and attended a Luftwaffe reunion from 12-15 May 1994, there meeting up with members of the old JG26 who had used Wevelgem from 1942-44. The speech he gave, whilst exchanging plaques with ex-JG26 Luftwaffe flier, Gottfried Schmidt, at the reunion was approved by then British Prime Minister, John Major.
    Harry also revisited Wevelgem Cemetery on 18 May 1997, laying there a wreath to commemorate those who lost their lives during WW2. Over 2,000 RAF and Commonwealth aircrew are buried in Belgium, some of whom share the same Flanders soil as their relatives who died in 1914-18.

    A hartwarming story wich my grandfather and grandmother still remember (they were about 12-13 years old then) The y are still thankfull to those fine English soldiers.

    After the war Wevelgem remained an imported "RAF- repair" airfield.

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