Bekesbourne (Bridge) (Canterbury)
Did you know?"
No 2 Squadron and its Westland Lysanders discovered on arrival at Bekesbourne in May 1940 while trying to support the Dunkirk evacuation how the previous civil owners had left in such a hurry that 600 gallons of aviation fuel had been left behind in storage tanks."
|Also known as:||Beakesbourne (misspelling) / RAF Bekesbourne / RFC Bekesbourne|
|Current Status:||Farmland / Housing|
|Date:||1914 (unconfirmed) - June 1940|
|Used By:||RAF / RFC / Civil|
|Landing Surface Types:||Unpaved|
|Aircraft Roles:||Army aviation / Fighter / General aviation|
Bekesbourne, in Kent, was a major First World War fighter airfield. Originally opened in 1914, main occupant No 50 Squadron remained ready to defend London and south-east England against Zeppelin and later Gotha bombing raids. Between both World Wars it became a popular civil airfield and was home to the Kent Flying Club. Interestingly, Britain’s first private civil pilot E.D. Whitehead Reid, a Canterbury doctor, flew from here in the 1920s to attend to patients.
During May/June 1940 Bekesbourne was briefly revived as a military airfield for Westland Lysander Army co-operation aircraft to support the Dunkirk evacuation. A Great War General Service hangar disappeared in 1998 for new housing but a number of original buildings associated with the airfield still survive as private dwellings, including the Officers’ Mess and combined station chapel/NAAFI.
The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/09/2011):
- Bekesbourne with Patrixbourne Parish Council
- Bridge & District History Society
- Canterbury Library
Main unit(s) present:
- No 2 Sqn
- No 13 Sqn
- No 50 Sqn
- No 56 Sqn
- Kent Flying Club
Photographs from the unveiling of the ABCT memorial marker on 23 February 2009: