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  RAF Digby - Ashby de la Launde

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Updated: 2 Oct 08

During World War II Ashby Hall was used by RAF Digby and accommodated amongst other functions an Officers' Mess and the Stn Accounts Flight. The Hall had been the seat of Lord Garvagh, whose kitchen gardens had, in peacetime, supplied many of the vegetables for the Officers’ Mess at the Station.

In March 1921, soon after he had succeeded to the Ashby estate, Colonel King-Fane attempted to sell, but was not successful. He therefore decided to improve the Hall so that it could be let. To finance theseimprovements and to meet death duties of £69 057 and other expenses, £13 220 was needed, of which 10,000 was raised on mortgage. The whole estate was sold for £42 000 in 1925, when Lord Garvagh acquired the Hall.

Sometime after Jun 1940 the Accounts Section was moved to Ashby Hall. The Accountant Officer used the library as his office; there hung a splendid portrait of His Lordship’s son - in an RFC uniform. The clerks used a splendid room overlooking the lake; the floor had only just been renovated, so to protect it, they covered it in felt.

No 609’s pilots moved into Ashby Hall in late Feb 1942. They therefore arranged a house warning for 28 March. Some 10 days beforehand a signal arrived posting 609 Squadron to Duxford on the very day the party was due. The move was put back by 2 days, but now the wording of the invitation had to be changed, and finally ran:

‘The West Riding Squadron prior to their departure from Ashby Hall, Ashby-de-la-Launde, in the County of Lincoln, frigidly invite you and your lady to a HOUSE COOLING on....

Train: Kings Cross 3.50pm, Grantham 602pm. Dancing 9 - 2am.’

To which the Station Commander replied:

‘Group Captain Campbell coldly accepts the invitation of the West Riding Squadron for Saturday next; but would prefer to come direct rather than via Kings Cross as you suggest.’

The incoming Canadian Squadron, No 411, which replaced 609, were not very impressed wit the state of Ashby Hall. However, they soon settled in again, and later took part in the Combined Operations raid on Dieppe on 19 August, carrying out 4 operational sweeps during the day.

Geraldine Poulton, stationed at Blankney Hall for duties in the Sector Ops Room, recalls the following about a party at Ashby Hall in her diary for 1944:

Nov 9 - 8 to 5 duty. Weren't called until 8. Read 'Beau Geste' on duty and loved it. Evening my bath was almost cold. 'Paged' my hair and went to aircrew cadets' Social at Ashby Hall. Had a wizard time, bags of 'tag' dances and 'Musical Knees' and Bigamy games. Met Ian, a Scot, ambled round the grounds with him and made a date for Monday. He came back in the transport with me.

It is not clear when the Squadrons vacated Ashby de la Launde Hall, probably around 1946. However we do know that the Hall fell into disrepair and was derelict until 1961.

Ashby Village

Ashby de la Launde village also has its connections with the Station.

Pilot Officer Hall was buried in the church cemetary in 1924.

In 1951 Ashby de la Launde acquired its Village Hall, one of the original Station buildings from presumably the 1920s, the building was used to provide cover for folding parachutes during the war. It was moved to its present position in the village, on ground donated by Whitbreads.

location of RAF Digbyin relation to Lincolnshire - click here for full-size map showing all station locations

Digby Squadrons

Blankney

Ashby de la Launde

Scopwick War Graves

Sector Ops Room Museum

Digby crashes

Digby Oral Histories:


Digby - A History
" A history 1917 - 1978"
Foreword
Introduction
1917
1918
Inter-War Years
1919
1920
1922-23
1924
1925
1926

1927-1929
1930-1932
1933
1934-1936
1937
1938
World War II

1939
1939-1940
1941
Jan - Aug 1942
Sep 1942 - 1944
1945
Return to Training
1945 - Jan 1948
Feb - Mar 1948
Mar 1948 - 1953
A cadet remembers
The Signals Era
Jan 1955 - Dec 1961
Dec 1963 - 1978
Curent Day

1955 - the Signals Era


Digby Ops Room Museum
A brief history on Airops website

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