----Anyone with more details for publication on this webpage,
please email or ----
Thanks for your reply back in January regarding KEGS boys and WWI.
Due to circumstances, etc., my apologies for the delay in replying.
I didn't realise that you were intending to place the details
on your website, so apologies for the wrong format being sent.
As this is an ongoing project (e.g. hopefully I will be
meeting with Edgar Peatfield's daughter soon) I have taken
the liberty of adding to your page some of my latest findings
and making a few adjustments/additions, while keeping to the original
page's formatting (hand-coding, of course!). I hope the attached
RGSkites.htm file meets with your approval.
With kind regards,
Looking back at my final print for RAF Retford, the prison
"opened for business" in July 1971, with 150 inmates, expected to
increase to a maximum of 350 by March 1973. The latest
H.M. Chief Inspector of Prisons Report available at the time,
March 2007, noted the population as 1,029 - including 20 serving
"life" and 41 "ten years and over" - with an operational capacity
of 1,038. Of course millions had been spent on expansion programmes
Individual aircraft types I have managed to identify from numerous
sources as flying at the aerodrome were (in lower serial number order
first): Martinsyde G102 Elephant, FE2b, Henri Farman, Henri Farman F.20,
De-Havilland 1, RE7, RE8, DH6, BE12, BE12b, BE2e, Avro, Avro 504K, BF,
FE2b (120) and Sopwith 1Ĺ Strutter. If you look closely at the aerial
photo I sent you of the aerodrome, you can see an in-flight FE2b at the
lower left and more FE2b's parked outside 199 & 200 Sqn canvas hangars
at top right. Looking even closer, you can just make out the aerodrome's
"E. Retford" ident marking.
In progress, heavily abbreviated, details of the 41 boys I am looking at,
and the two Gladish brothers previously researched as part of the
RAF Retford project, are attached (actual attendance years have yet to be
confirmed with School Registers for the period held at Nottingham Archives).
Note that "Term" refer to the published Retfordian edition, meaning that
whatever is being reported usually happened months before;
e.g., Goodwin, Snr., is recorded in the "Valete" section of Spring 1916,
but his obituary records that he left in December 1915.
"Unknown" death details are where either I havenít been able to confirm
their specific entries, they died in the UK but outside England, or they
Is this the kind of thing you were after?
With kind regards,
Hello Kohn (or was that the well known typing error for John!?),
Thank you for replying to my email, and apologies for a delay in
responding - I only get on the interwebs when visiting the metropolis
that is Retford.
The scan of Rev. Nealeís obituary has added a few interesting details,
which I will have to put on the seemingly never-ending list of things
to chase-up (looks like Iím now going to have to learn Spanish, on top
of the Portuguese!).
With regards to RAF Retford, looking at the old-maps.co.uk website would
do no good, as the aerodrome didnít appear on any OS maps - pre-war it
was fields, during the war non-Service maps werenít updated, and post-war
the site had largely closed down as an operational station, but with the
airfield part still available as an emergency landing ground. The 1920
OS maps I have seen even go so far as to not show any buildings there,
including the WRAF accommodation blocks on the opposite side of the
Worksop road (security concerns probably). The 1918 RAF Quarterly Survey
of Stations (Autumn) does include a reference to the aerodrome, although
it was only published once.
Fortunately I have managed to acquire quite a few photographs of the
aerodrome, aircraft and personnel when it was in "full flow" and have
attached some for you to look at - the RAF Museum even have a photograph
of the front gate. After being used initially in 1916 as a night landing
ground by 33 Squadron, based at Gainsborough, it became the 6th Brigade
(Night) Training Squadron School, Midland Area, as a part of 48th Wing
(Home Defence), also headquartered at Gainsborough, during an expansion
period of the new-fangled night fighting and bombing operations of 1917,
ending up with four resident Training Squadrons, each with something like
50 trainees at any one time.
The last of the flying Squadron disbanded on 1 May 1919 and, even though
the War Department tried to sell the landing ground, buildings, et al.,
in auctions held in 1920 and 1921, sporadic flying still took place there
until at least the mid-30ís. Alan Cobham even brought his Flying Circus to
give two displays on a Wednesday afternoon in May 1934.
While researching I found that the site was known by a multitude of names;
East Retford Aerodrome, East Retford Airfield, East Retford Station,
RAF East Retford, RAF Retford, Retford Aerodrome, Babworth Aerodrome,
Ranby Aerodrome, Ranby Air Training Ground and latterly the Old Aerodrome
at Green Mile. You maybe remember it as an Army camp - they trained tank
transporter drivers in the 60s - after the Army had moved in during the
Second World War. These days most of the original aerodrome site is known
as HMP Ranby (an Argentine pilot, Frank Allyn Benitz, who trained at the
camp was killed on Home Defence duties and subsequently buried at
Gainsborough in August 1918, and after contacting one of the staff at Ranby,
I got them to make up a wreath of flowers grown on-site when his headstone
at Gainsborough Cemetery was refurbished and a re-dedication ceremony
carried out last year. His familyís website, www.benitz.com, has more
details). Part of the original site, in fact where the attached picture
of one of 199 Squadronís Bessonneau hangars being erected was, did return
to agricultural use, and I had to explain to the local land owner why that
particular field was known as "The Air Field"... it had been an airfield!
As for "The Bomb Field"...
The camp you remember at Scofton was RAF Worksop (opened November 1943),
also locally was RAF Gamston (opened November 1942), now called Retford
(Gamston) Airport. Most of the people I spoke to seemed to think one of
these two was RAF Retford, but they were both built from scratch as
Second World War stations, with concrete runways. The equally little-known
satellite landing ground at Grove did pop up a few times, but again it was
1940s. Because Retfordís runways were only grass there was really nothing
left when it closed; even the huts, complete with plumbing, were sold off
(The Ivy Leaf Club on Spa Common and the original Little Theatre on Wharf
Road were created using huts brought from the site). There was some survey
work carried out in July 1935, looking at re-opening the station, but in
September it was announced that RAF Finningley would be created.
Retfordís Denman library does indeed hold all copies of The Retfordian
from 1907 to 1930, not 1927 as I had thought, in bound volumes (1907-08,
1909-12, 1913-18, 1919-24 & 1925-30) with a few odds and sods from the
1941 to 1977 in a dedicated box. They also hold extensive microfilm copies
of old Retford Times and Retford Herald newspapers.
As I have 41 boys to research, and they were mostly pupils between 1907 and
1914, Iím not sure if it would be worth the time thumbing through your
Retfordians to see if they get an odd mention in the Old Boys section. It
was just fortunate that one rose to become an Arch Deacon. However, I can
let you have all their names if you want. As the majority were boarders,
there was a bomb-burst effect, meaning Iím having to track down details
from locations as far flung as New Zealand, Canada, America, India,
South Africa, and now Argentina... again. This out-of-town issue may be
why one of the boys who died during the war wasnít named on the War Memorial
which used to be in the main assembly hall; his family had, by the war years,
moved back to Sheffield and possibly lost touch with the school. Saying
that though, a few interesting snippets are turning up, such as that I used
to live in the same house as one of them!
Once again, thank you for Rev. Nealeís details. If you canít read
Portuguese... howís your Spanish!
With kind regards,
Dear Mr Palmer,
Several years ago a militaria collector friend of mine acquired a
photograph, annotated at the bottom "200 (N) Training Squadron, 48th Wing,
RAF Retford, August 1918."
Knowing I live in the area, he asked if I knew anything about this station.
I was unaware of its existence, and a trawl of local libraries, Bassetlaw
Museum and the internet revealed that hardly anyone else had much of a
clue about it either.
As a "back-burner" project, I set about collecting details of this
long-forgotten aerodrome, and ended up depositing the resulting information
and photographs of RFC/RAF Retford, the resident four night bomber/fighter
training squadrons, and its post-war evolution in both Retford Local
Studies Library and the Bassetlaw Museum.
While carrying out this research, I found one sentence in a Retford Times
edition that two local brothers had trained at this aerodrome during the
First World War, the Gladdish boys.
As part of the project, I compiled some biographical information on about
20 of the pilots at RFC/RAF Retford, including Charles Richard and
John Noel Gladdish. While looking into these two boys, I found that they
had attended King Edward VI Grammar School, and was fortunate in having
access to all the School magazines from 1907-1927 at Retford library.
Trawling through The Retfordian, I noticed other boys also mentioned as
serving with, or attached to, various flying services - RFC/RAF/RNAS/US
Flying Corps - during the war, and made a mental note to return to them
when the aerodrome project was completed.
I am now collecting information on these boys, 41 in all, including four
who did not return.
One of the "fortunate" ones was Charles Sydney Neale, 1891-1956,
KEGS 1906-1909, who served as Chaplain to the R.A.F. at Aboukir, Egypt,
This gentleman is the reason I am contacting you (sorry to be so long winded).
During an internet search, I found that you have a record of his obituary
as published in The Retfordianís July 1956 edition, of which I have been
unable to locate a physical copy.
I was wondering if this article contains any information I may use which
supplements that already found from other sources. I have attached an
interim working copy of his details so far, as Neale.pdf, which includes
an in-progress translation of numerous Brazilian newspaper entries
(don't read Portuguese do you?).
With kind regards,