Service to honour ‘significant’ role played by RAF Sidmouth in WWII

PUBLISHED: 11:30 17 February 2018

Councillor Jeff Turner and Alastair Watson, who is leading the RAF100 celebrations in Sidmouth

Councillor Jeff Turner and Alastair Watson, who is leading the RAF100 celebrations in Sidmouth


The significant role played by RAF Sidmouth during World War Two will be marked with a special service at the parish church.

The RAF 100 logoThe RAF 100 logo

The event at 11am on April 4 will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force and the valuable contribution of the town.

Sidmouth Museum is also planning an exhibition that will open on March 23 and it hopes to hear stories from families.

Organiser Alistair Watson, who served in the RAF for 40 years, said: “It may not be widely known that Sidmouth played a significant military-related role during World War Two. In that period of national emergency, the town was ‘invaded’ by servicemen and women in ‘light blue’ uniform – the Royal Air Force had arrived.

“Although there was no airfield, we know that a great many hotels in the town were requisitioned for accommodation and training facilities.

“In addition, many of the permanent staff of these organisations were billeted with local families, which left the valuable barrack accommodation in the requisitioned hotels for students and classroom space.

“Everyone is welcome to the service, but in particular all former serving RAF, WRAF and WAAF veterans, along with veterans from the other services.

“Just as importantly, anyone from the town, or elsewhere, who had relatives who served in the town, as well with any other members of the public, will be warmly received.”

Alistair appealed for contributions to the museum exhibition, adding: “We would like more family stories, such as those of Heather and Derek Simpson who both served at Sidmouth. Heather was in the WAAF and Derek in the RAF – are there still family connections for them in the town?

“One young aircrew officer named Jack Hedger met and eventually married a local girl with the maiden name Holland. Are there other such stories?

“Did any former RAF or WAAF personnel keep coming back to the town on holiday and keep in contact with local families?

“Did anyone serve in the RAF, WAAF or WRAF at any time in the past and have any small items of memorabilia that the museum might borrow?”

Anyone with information can contact Alastair by emailing or joining the Facebook group, ‘RAF Sidmouth’. Events are planned across the country to mark RAF100, the centenary of the RAF’s foundation, and the Red Arrows are set to return to open Sidmouth Regatta in August.

The units that formed in the town and assumed the title RAF Sidmouth were:

• An air ministry experimental station ‘chain home’ radar site situated where the Oakdown caravan park is now, on the A3052 between Sidmouth and Seaton. It was in operation during 1940 and played a significant part in the Battle of Britain. The caravan park still uses buildings that were in use during World War Two.

• The medical training depot, which moved to Sidmouth from Harrogate, in 1942 and which eventually was relocated to Halton in Buckinghamshire. It included the first ever school of dental hygiene in the UK at Glenside in Manor Road, and hence produced the first ever dental hygienists.

• The RAF Regiment, which was formed on February 1, 1942, established an officer cadet training unit in the town.

• An aircrew officers school formed in the town and that eventually went to Hereford.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Other News Stories

Proposals to stop holding council meetings in Tipton St John came under fire from a member of the public who labelled the idea as a storyline seen out of The Vicar of Dibley.

Read more

A commemorative banner marking 100 years of WI activity in Sidford has been boosted by a £1,000 grant towards its celebrations.

Read more
Yesterday, 17:31

A Sidmouth author will debut her seventh book later this month called Pets, People and Places.

Read more
Yesterday, 16:57

Play tells the story of two village gravediggers who delve into long-buried family secrets

Read more
Yesterday, 15:22

Armed police were called and a man arrested during a disturbance in an Ottery home.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:04

A group of super slimmers from Sidmouth who achieved a combined weight-loss of 37 stone have been recognised for their success.

Read more
Tue, 10:47

From steam trains to the paranormal, Sidmouth Library will be hosting a range of events in November.

Read more
Tue, 08:00

Campaigners have called for land earmarked for a multi-million pound Sidford business park to be taken out of the Local Plan.

Read more
Tue, 07:00

The Donkey Sanctuary has received an award from HRH Princess Anne in recognition of their employee training.

Read more
Mon, 17:30

‘Shocking’ plans have not been supported by Sidmouth Town Council’s Planning Committee after members of the public came out in force.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 12°C

Most read

Useful Links

Family notices
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Submit a Story
Buy Photos
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Read the Sidmouth Herald e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sidmouth Herald twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Show Job Lists

Find planning applications