Visit to Stow Maries WW1 Aerodrome in Essex.
On the 11th September I was invited to a breakfast in the old officers mess at Stow Maries Aerodrome, (it was delicious). I went there with a group of old work collegues and it was fantastic to see them again and to catch up.
Following the breakfast we had a guided tour of the aerodrome and then at 1100 attended a memorial service on the airfield to mark the anniversary of the 09/11 attacks and to remember those who lost their lives. A time for reflection and to be thankful for the wonderful life that I have and the wonderful people I have around me.
About Stow Maries
‘The requirement for an aerodrome at Stow Maries originated in the Government response to German Zeppelin airship and Gotha fixed-wing bomber attacks on the British mainland during the First World War.
The first aircraft to arrive at the new aerodrome in September 1916 belonged to ‘B’ flight, 37(Hone Defence) Squadron, Royal Flying Corp. The Squadron was charged with the eastern aerial defence of the capital. The Headquarters Flight moved into ‘The Grange’, Woodham Mortimer. ‘A’ Flight was despatched to Rochford (now Southend Airport) and ‘C’ Flight to Gardeners Farm, Goldhanger.
The first commanding officer on the aerodrome was Lieutenant Claude Ridley. Educated at St Paul’s School, London, he was only 19 years of age but had already seen service with the Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front winning the Military Cross and Distinguished Service Order (DSO) prior to arriving at Stow Maries.
Following a period of organisation and training at Stow Maries, the first recorded operational flight took place from the aerodrome on the night of 23rd/24th May 1917 when Ridley (now promoted to Captain) and Lieutenant G Keddie were ordered aloft in response to a large Zeppelin raid targeting London.
Both day and night patrols are recorded but it was to be ‘C’ Flight at Goldhanger that clained the Squadrons first confirmed destruction of an enemy machine, when during the early hours of 17th June 1917, 2nd Lieutenant L. P. Watkins was credited with the downing of Zeppelin L48 at Theberton in Suffolk. This was to be the last Zeppelin brought down in Great Britain during the war. For more information visit the Stow Maries website at http://www.stowmaries.org.uk/