RAF Tangmere






Lieut. Geoffrey Dorman, flying his Bristol F2b biplane from Shoreham to Gosport, was forced to make an emergency landing in open farmland. There was little damage other than the wooden propeller being chipped by flying stones. Recovery of the plane, led to the open land being requisitioned as an aerodrome.


Aerodrome opened.


Taken over by the US


Handed back to the new RAF and closed.


Re-opened as a storage unit for the RAF controlled Fleet Air Arm.


No.43 Fighter Squadron arrived.


No.1 Fighter Squadron arrived.


These two squadrons retain a strong association with RAF Tangmere.


Fleet Air Arm taken over by the Royal Navy.


Security fencing erected around airfield for the first time, and perimeter track laid, but runways remained grass


Became Sector HQ of No.11 Group.

1939 -1942

During this period, which encompassed The Battle of Britain and the Blitz night bombing, many squadrons circulated through Tangmere and it's satellite fields of Westhampnett (now Goodwood airfield) and Merston.


Sometimes a squadron would be moved away for a few weeks rest, but often the remnants of a squadron that had suffered heavy losses would move away to re-equip with new planes and pilots.
Some of the squadrons that flew from Tangmere were:- 1, 17, 23, 41, 43, 65, 92, 120, 145, 213, 217, 219, 277, 302, 501, 601, 602, 605, 607, 610, 616.


During Thursday/Friday 15th/16th August, heavy bombing attacks from over 100 Ju87 Stuka dive bombers, destroyed hangars, workshops, stores, sick quarters, & accommodation blocks. Over a dozen planes were destroyed, and casualties included over a dozen servicemen & civilians killed, with nearly two dozen injured.
It was during these attacks that the Ventnor, I-o-W, radar station was put out of action. This was the only effective gap made in the radar chain, but it was covered up with a stand-by transmitter that continued emitting pulses.


In October SOE operations started from Tangmere, with black Westland Lysanders landing in France at night to deliver and collect agents and supplies.


Central Fighter Establishment formed at Tangmere to evaluate captured enemy aircraft & tactics.


High Speed Flight stationed at Tangmere.


Grp. Capt. Donaldson broke record at 616 mph in a Gloster Meteor.


Retired Lieut. Geoffrey Dorman presented his 1916 damaged propeller to the Officers Mess.


Sqn. Ldr. Neville Duke broke record at 727 mph in Hawker Hunter WB188.


Signals Command in with Vickers Varsity and English Electric Canberra aircraft.


Last aircraft flew out.


Station became No.38 Group Support Unit.


Station closed.


Military Aviation Museum opened.


Tangmere Military Aviation Museum

The RAF station was never self-contained, and became integrated with the village, using the church of St.Andrew as the station church, with its vicar as padre.
At the end of Church Lane, a stone commemorates the association between village and airfield.



The village is said to date from South Saxon (Sussex) times. The name "Tang-mere" is thought to mean "tong-lake", and come from a large pool within the fork of two merging trackways. The last remnant of any earlier pool was filled-in as recently as the latter half of the 20th century to make a "village green".

In the 7th C Bishop Wilfrid arrived from Northumbria, gave practical advice in fishing and farming, and then set up a monastery at Selsey. A charter of 680 mentions:-

"I, Caedwalla, King by the grace of God, have been asked by the venerable Bishop Wilfrid . . . to grant him a little land . . . small estate . . . Pagham . . . church of St. Andrew, . . . Tangmere."

The charter may be a later fabrication to establish title, but it covered what had already happened.

In the Domesday Book, Tangmere is included in the Hundred of Pagham.
The record quotes, a lordship, 15 smallholders, and 15 villagers, with the small church of St. Andrew.
In 1871 the census quotes 58 men, 59 women, and 79 children.


The Church of St. Andrew Tangmere

The present stone church was probably built in the 12th century, not long after the Norman conquest. Some carved figures on a re-used stone, might be taken as pre-Christian, and the size of the yew tree by the present door suggests an ancient sacred site. A few Roman bricks are also incorporated in the building. The original church has been extended during its life, and acquired a belfry and spire.





















































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This page was last updated on 6th April, 2007