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The day the Nazis attacked a Suffolk airbase, killing seven people

PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:52 23 August 2020

The service was held at RAF Honington on Wednesday, August 19 Picture: JAMIE LEDGER/RAF HONINGTON

The service was held at RAF Honington on Wednesday, August 19 Picture: JAMIE LEDGER/RAF HONINGTON

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A ceremony has been held to remember those killed 80 years ago when RAF Honington in Suffolk came under a surprise and devastating attack from German bombers.

Michael Dudley Picture: JAMIE LEDGER/RAF HONINGTONMichael Dudley Picture: JAMIE LEDGER/RAF HONINGTON

According to records, at least seven personnel were tragically killed and more than 20 were injured during two surprise attacks on the Suffolk station by the Luftwaffe on August 19, 1940.

The first attack happened around 4.15pm by a single aircraft using high explosives and incendiaries.

Around two hours later, the second assault was delivered by a Dornier 17 – a light Nazi bomber – and resulted in heavy damage to barrack block 76 at the station and destroyed two Wellington bombers and one Magister plane.

Part of the roof on E Hangar was also destroyed and craters were left on the aerodome.

Michael Dudley's uncle and father pictured together Picture: SUPPLIED BY MICHAEL DUDLEYMichael Dudley's uncle and father pictured together Picture: SUPPLIED BY MICHAEL DUDLEY

A small service was held at RAF Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, on Wednesday, August 19, to remember the victims of the attacks 80 years ago.

Michael Dudley, 80, attended the service in remembrance of his uncle, Second Class Aircraftman George Dudley, who was killed aged 20 while crossing the parade ground on his way to tea during the evening of August 19, 1940. He had only been in service for around two weeks.

Mr Dudley’s father, Arthur, was also killed during World War Two while serving in the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry near Arnhem in October 1944. While suffering shrapnel wounds, he was being evacuated by ambulance to the field hospital when it was struck by a direct hit and all were killed instantly.

Speaking on the day of the service, Mr Dudley said: “I am here as much for my father to remember his dear brother – they were devoted and shared everything as they grew up.

Station Warrant Officer Mac Macdonald, Michael Dudley, Station Commander Gp Capt Matt Radnall, Rob Williams, Padre Craig Lancaster Picture: JAMIE LEDGER/RAF HONINGTONStation Warrant Officer Mac Macdonald, Michael Dudley, Station Commander Gp Capt Matt Radnall, Rob Williams, Padre Craig Lancaster Picture: JAMIE LEDGER/RAF HONINGTON

“My father didn’t know about George’s death for a month until his mother’s letter reached – he was based in Curacao in the West Indies.”

Mr Dudley was able to visit the former mess where his uncle tragically lost his life.

Recalling the event, Squadron Sergeant ‘Tiny’ Cooling, who was dining in the sergeants mess at the time, said: “We heard the whistle of a stick of bombs coming down and immediately the dining room took on the look of the Marie Celeste.

“Plates of food steamed gently and not a soul in sight. We were under the tables. One bomb hit the parade ground and killed a number of airmen and WAAFs in that lunch queue, about a dozen.

Michael Dudley in the station’s Sowrey Room Picture: JAMIE LEDGER/RAF HONINGTONMichael Dudley in the station’s Sowrey Room Picture: JAMIE LEDGER/RAF HONINGTON

“Another hit the barrack block and blew it to bits, and another blew in the window of my quarters.”

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Bullet holes can still be seen today on the exterior of the former junior ranks mess, where the attacking aircraft machine gunned those that were queuing outside for their tea.

A wreath was laid at the RAF Association Memorial to those who had died at RAF Honington and in remembrance of Mr Dudley’s uncle George, and his father Arthur.


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