Updated: 14 Jan 12
Ten months after closing in Dec 1933 and handing over the Station to RAF Cranwell, No 2 Flying Training School re-started under Squadron Leader G H Cock. It was equipped with AVRO Tutors, Hawker Harts and Furies. After 2 months Squadron Leader Cock handed over to Group Captain T Leigh-Mallory, who was later to become Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory.
One of Digby’s unique distinctions is that an aircraft was built in Station Workshops. Known as the Digby Flying Flea it was built by Squadron Leader C R Davidson.
1935-1936 : Reconstruction, Expansion
The physical appearance of the Station underwent a drastic change in 1935/36. The 7 original hangars, which had stood where the Barrack Blocks now stand, were replaced by 2 new ones. Originally, it had been planned to have a third one standing between them. However, the close proximity of war put a stop to the building programme and the third hangar was never built. Domestic building, including married quarters, also went on, and many of the present-day buildings appeared at this time.
The Station archive includes a variety of photographs reflecting the recontruction of the airfield. The most (in)famous of these is an aerial view of the station showing the old type 21 hangars still standing with the modern Type C hangards under construction behind them. In the foreground of the image there appears to be a flight of 3 Hawker Fury aircraft but these 2FTS aircraft have in fact been superimposed on the basic shot from the air!
Also in 1936 a scheme to train civil pilots was started at Digby. Rumour has it that some ladies were trained, but very little is now known about this scheme.
The CO at this time, Group Captain Robinson, was an ADC to the King. This involved him in having to ride a horse at some parade in London. For weeks beforehand, early every morning he rode up and down between the hangars whilst airmen hanged tins and waved rags on sticks to acclimatize the animal to the excited crowds. The day before the event, the horse fell ill, so the preparations were in vain! Nevertheless, the great day apparently passed off without problems for anyone other than the poor horse.
These distractions seem to have no appreciable effect on the sporting life of the Station, for during 1936, the inter-unit rugby Cup and the inter-unit junior fencing cup were both won by Digby. The rugby strength of the Station was no doubt helped by the fact that at the time there was on the unit a Flight Lieutenant C Beamish, whose brother went on to win many international cups for Ireland at rugby, and rose to be an air marshal. On their way to the final, the Digby team apparently played Cranwell. So certain were Cranwell of their forthcoming victory, that they had booked a Vickers Valencia to fly the team to the next leg at Leuchars in Fife. Beamish made himself very unpopular by asking if the aircraft would be used by the Digby team instead.
Construction of 12 Group Fighter Command Lima Sector Operations Room
The budget for building the Sector Ops Room bunker was a princely £5000.
Digby Oral Histories:
- A History
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