Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at Newchurch

There were four ALGs built on Romney Marsh as well as others across the South East, but Newchurch was to become one of the most successful and busiest of all. They were temporary airfields built for a possible invasion of France

The site chosen was flat and required little clearing apart from a few trees and the burying of telegraph wires, which was completed early in 1943. The runways were formed with two intersecting strips made with heavy metal mesh (Sommerfeld Track landing strips) laid straight onto the grass. The ground at the Newchurch site was regarded as firm enough for dispersed aircraft so no hardstanding was provided. Originally two blister hangars were built for the servicing of aircraft and later two more were added. Most of the personnel lived in tents on the airfield while the rest lived in local houses.

Two tempests taking off for a sortie over the Caen area.
IWM CH14097.

 

An RAF ground crew servicing and refuelling a Tempest that had just returned from a patrol over Normandy IWM CH14088

Operational Duties

The first squadrons of Spitfires arrived in July 1943 and were used as escort for American bombers based in East Anglia, but within three months the ALG was closed for upgrading. It re-opened in April 1944 with squadrons of Tempests, Spitfires and Typhoons. These were used for air cover during the ‘D-Day’ landings and later in June 1944 the Tempests were ordered to deal with the new threat of the V1 Flying Bombs (Doodlebugs).

The first Doodlebug shot down by the Newchurch Wing was on 16th June and the final tally shot down by the Newchurch Wing was 638. After months of intense activity, when the threat posed by the V1s had subsided, the Wing were moved on to other duties. In September 1944 the site was returned to agriculture.

Below is a film shot in 1944 showing operations and daily life at Newchurch ALG.  It was almost certainly shot to provide material for the RAF film about the defence against the V1 bomb which can be seen on our V1 page.

There is no sound.  Source IWM. 

A personal account of life at Newchurch in 1944

leftywhitmanrpbook-sm.jpglefty-sm.jpg

Lefty Whitman, pictured above,  was an American who joined the Canadian Airforce in 1941 and was posted to England with No 3 Sqn. He tells a very entertaining story of his time at Newchurch including the little- known visit of The King & Queen and Prime Minister Churchill accompanied by Ernest Hemmingway, John Steinbeck, Ernie Pyle and Edward G. Robinson.
Click here to read more

audrey1.jpgAudrey Hammon was a school girl in Newchurch during WWII.  Here she recalls her memories of the ALG which include; recovering a crashed fighter, a B24 bomber that over-ran the runway and the billeting of two serviceman. listen_button.png
 

 

Aerial photograph taken just after the war showing the airfield after it was decommissioned and the ditches re-instated.
Click to see a larger version  Historic England RAF5262 

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Drawing courtesy of G. Berry
Of all the aircraft to see service at Newchurch, the Hawker Tempest MkV is probably the most notable. The only single engined fighter capable of catching a V1 flying bomb in level flight it played an important role in the battle against them. To find out everything there is to know about the Tempest, its development, theatres of war, its pilots and much more visit the Hawker Tempest page click here
 

Many local houses were taken over.  
This is believed to be Brooker Farmhouse.  IWM HU92141