Thursday, 22 May 1941

RAF Stradishall – RAF Newmarket Heath

1419 Flight is moved from RAF Stradishall to Newmarket Heath. The move will allow the SD Flight to operate in greater secrecy, as it no longer has to share its airfield with a front-line bomber squadron. Bomber crews get shot down; if captured, they are questioned: skilled interrogators have little difficulty in overcoming the ‘name, rank and serial number’ barrier.

Facilities are rudimentary at Newmarket. When the RAF originally took over the Rowley Mile part of the racecourse, some of the ‘erks’ found themselves sleeping in the open air, on beds placed on the terraces of the Centenary Grandstand. The Officers take over Sefton Lodge, one of Newmarket training establishments. (It has recently been bought by Martin Meade Racing.). The officers are lodged in the lads’ quarters and the stables, and in the main house which functions as their Mess they are waited on by out-of-work jockeys and stable-lads. The sergeants, with their natural aptitude for bagging a comfortable billet, establish themselves in the Jockey Club and its royal retiring rooms: they have running hot water, a luxury. When Sergeant Austin commissioned in August, it’s a bit of a come-down.

Fortunately for the historian, Newmarket comes under Stradishall for operational control, and its Operations Officer’s logbook continues to record the SD Flight’s activities right up until the move to Tempsford in March 1942.