RAF Tangmere Vat

R.A.F. Tangmere.

Blower E. J. H. Wright.

RAF Tangmere Vat

Some of the men in this film of Tangmere airbase in the 1920’s may have been foth blowers:


Although the origins of the airfield at Tangmere date to 1916 when, after making a forced landing, the journalist Geoffrey Dorman reported that it would make a good landing ground, it was not until September 1917 that the land was requisitioned under the Defence of the Realm Act. Work was well advanced by February 1918 and the field was used for training by the Royal Flying Corps. In September 1918 it was briefly handed over to the United States Air Service before being used as a holding station for squadrons returning from the continent. In common with many airfields after the First World War, Tangmere was considered surplus to requirements and was closed in 1920. During the early 1920s, plans for proposed war stations for the Home Defence Force led to the reacquisition or reactivation of many sites including Tangmere which was one of the first bases to be occupied. It initially reopened as a Coastal Area Storage Unit for Fleet Air Arm aircraft in June 1925, and the airfield was reactivated, becoming RAF Tangmere on 23rd November 1926. It was initially occupied by numbers 1 and 43 Squadrons flying Gamecock and Siskin aircraft. Barrack blocks, married quarters and mess buildings were constructed in the late 1920s.

RAF Tangmere saw further expansion in the late 1930s when it was modified to form a permanent station with an extra Squadron. This included the construction of more barrack blocks, including the H-block (listed at Grade II), and workshop and training buildings, as well as the extension of the airfield to the east to elongate the runway. During 1941 Douglas Bader was Wing Commander.

In its day RAF Tangmere was one of the best known and strategically most important fighter stations in the British Isles. In 1970 the Station closed and was replaced by a museum.