Peter Long’s brief history of Watton – 1961

Aircraft of the CSE, mainly those of Dev. Sqdn were now involved in ongoing ECM exercise sorties against Watton’s 24 SAGW Wing and the SAGW Wing at RAF Northcoates.

Air Commodore Melvin retired from the RAF on 16th January. The appointment of Commandant, CSE was to be taken up by J.C. Millar DSO who was not immediately available until 20th February. In the interim, command of the CSE was handed over to Group Captain Goudie OBE, Grp.Capt E.W.

With assistance of aircraft of the CSE, BBC/TV filmed an eclipse. It is not recorded whether it was of the sun or moon.

In April Watton acted as ‘Airhead’ for an Army air transportation exercise. An infantry battalion was flown in to Watton using Transport Command Hastings and Beverley aircraft, moving by road from Watton to the Stanford practical training area.

Among other CSE aircraft, three Development Squadron Lincolns fitted with ‘Indigo Bracket’ jamming gear were to take part in NATO’s air-defence exercise in June. Due to administrative errors, necessary clearances to operate were not obtained and the Lincolns were unable to take part.

The IB Lincolns continued their ECM sorties against 24 and 151 SAGW Wings and on 22nd June performed demonstration ECM sorties for the Army at their guided weapons range at Manorbier in Wales.

By now, the RAF’s surface to air missile units were attracting the worlds attention. On the 8th June, 24 Wing and 263 Squadron were visited by the Inspector General of the RAF, Air Marshal Sir John Whitley KBE CB DSO AFC accompanied by the AOC in C Air Marshal Sir Hector McGregor KCB CBE DSO. With them were 25 NATO press journalists. This visit was followed on the 4th July by a visit by Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Salmond GCB CMG CVO DSO DCI LL.D.

The Watton based SAGW units received more visits between July and November. These visits included General Stehlin, Chief of the Air Staff of the French Air Force with the French Air Attaché; General Rivals-Mazens, French Air Force; Air Marshal Mohammed Asghar Khan, CinC Pakistan Air Force; Major General H. O. Mehre, Norwegian Air Force and Air Marshal Engineer, Chief of the Air Staff Indian Air Force accompanied by General Thapar, Chief of the Army Staff, Indian Army.

Canberra aircraft of Dev.Squadron were involved in a series of live firing trials of Bloodhound missiles, culminating in the first live firing of a Bloodhound missile at a manned aircraft. The aircraft being a Canberra of Dev. Squadron.

Exercise ‘Stargaze’, held on the 25th July was a presentation to senior officers of operational commands on the operational work and organisation of the CSE.

Four of Dev.Squadron’s Lincoln aircraft took part in the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) sponsored annual joint Atomic/Air Defence Exercise which was held in September. The CSE Lincolns gave ECM bomber support.

During October, one of 51 Squadron’s Comet aircraft detached to the United States on an eight day ‘ECM information exchange’ visit.

These and the previous ‘snapshots’ of my post-war history of RAF Watton are extracts from

‘In Support Of So Many’
Royal Air Force Station Watton 1945 ~ 2000
A Story of a Peacetime RAF Station

© Peter J. Long 1999

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