Felixstowe started as a Royal Naval Air Service - Seaplane base in 1913. During the First World War aircraft from the base patrolled the sea, looking for German U-Boats. By the end of the war the base was one of the largest stations in the world.
Things changed on the 16th June 1924 when the base took on a new role as the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment (MAEE) doing research and testing.
The (MAEE) were trialling all UK seaplanes and flying boats and over the following years more than 250 types of seaplane and flying boat - military and civilian aircraft - and others were tested and designed at Felixstowe. (See below for links to the ‘Felixstowe Class on Seaplanes’ the Felixstowe F1 and F2 etc).
Many served at the base including some famous people including Flying Officer Frank Whittle, inventor of the jet engine, and Aircraftsman 1st Class TE Shaw, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. (See below for link).
The station's special ‘High-Speed Flight’ won the world famous Schneider Trophy for Britain three times in a row. Both the 1929 and 1931seaplanes were at Felixstowe for a time.
Changes came in 1936 when the base came under the control of the RAF Coastal Command. The base changed hands again in 1937 when the Fleet Air Arm was returned to Royal Navy control and the test and evaluation of carrier-borne aircraft ceased.
When WWII started, the (MAEE) section was moved to a safer location. Basing itself in Helensburgh, Scotland.
In 1940 the Royal Navy moved into the base and called it HMS Beehive. A Coastal Forces base from 1940 to 1945. The 8th MGB (Motor Gun Boat) Flotilla came back to the base in Sep 1942. Before that the Flotilla was based in Dartmouth. (See below for links to HMS Beehive).
After the war Aug 1945, the (MAEE) moved back to Felixstowe. However the flying stopped at the MAEE when it lost its connection with the RAF in 1953. A small Civilian section manned the unit until it too, closed in 1958.
RAF Felixstowe has connections to many distinguished units within the Royal Air Force. The base helped with the Air-Sea Rescue Role with Whirlwind Helicopters until the flying stopped at the base in May 1961.
RAF Felixstowe finally closed in 1962, but the RAF still exists today, on the site of the old No.2 Guard room (unfortunately, the old guard room was knocked down due to an unsafe roof).
Yes – 356 (Felixstowe) Squadron – Air Training Corps, use to occupy the old No.2 Guard room. Now replaced with a new Squadron headquarters. Next door are still the old Married Quarters, used by the RAF and then the US Air Force when RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge were being used by the US.
RAF Felixstowe - Station Commanders
Captain C. E. Risk, RM 1913-1914
Lieutenant C. E. H. Rathbone, RN 1914-1915
Commander J. C. Porte, RN 1915-1918
Wing Commander C. E. Risk, RAF 1918-1919
Wing Commander I. T. Courtney, RAF 1919-1922
Flying Officer F. Wilton, DCM, RAF 1922-1924
Wing Commander C. E. H. Rathbone, RAF 1924-1925
Wing Commander R. B. Maycock, OBE, RAF 1925-1928
Group Captain G. R. Bromet, DSO, OBE, RAF 1928-1931
Group Captain A. J. Milley, OBE, RAF 1931-1936
Group Captain E. J. P. Burling, DSC, DFC, AFC, RAF 1936-1939
Wing Commander D. G. Fleming, RAF 1939-1940
Wing Commander W. B. Hellard, RAF 1940-1942
Wing Commander N. Keeble, RAF 1942-1943
Wing Commander L. G. Martin, DFC, RAF 1943-1945
Group Captain W. G. Abrams, RAF 1945-1946
Group Captain W. P. Welch, DFC, RAF 1946-1948
Group Captain C. A. Watt, RAF 1948-1949
Wing Commander D. H. Thomas, DSO, DFM, RAF 1949-1951
Wing Commander C. V. Winn, DSO, OBE, DFC, RAF 1951-1953
Wing Commander J. A. Chorlton, OBE, RAF 1953-1954
Wing Commander W. O. Jones, RAF 1954-1956
Wing Commander R. P. Burton, MBE, RAF 1956-1957
Wing Commander J.T. O’Sullivan, OBE, RAF 1957-1960
Wing Commander C. F. Price, RAF 1960-1961
Wing Commander C. H. Baker, RAF 1961-1962
The Freedom of Entry
26th of September 1958
Urban District Council Of Felixstowe
The Royal Air Force Felixstowe was established as a Royal Naval Air Service Station on August 5th, 1913, and as a Royal Air Force Station on 1st April, 1918, and is one of the oldest Stations in the County.
The Urban District Council of Felixstowe are desirous of perpetrating the close bonds of friendship and mutual respect which have existed though the years between the local Authority and the people of Felixstowe and
ROYAL AIR FORCE FELIXSTOWE
Wish to record pride in the achievements and the honourable record of the Station and to give expression as to the administration and high esteem in which the Station and Personnel serving there at have always been held and also to show appreciation of the great services which they have rendered to the Community over a long period and especially during the Flood Disaster of 1953.
Therefore the Council do herby confer upon the Commanding Officer and all ranks of the Royal Air Force for the time being and from time to time those stationed at Felixstowe
THE FREEDOM OF ENTRY
And thereby the privilege, honour and distinction henceforth and for ever of marching through the streets of Felixstowe on all ceremonial occasions with bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing. Dated this Day the Twenty-Sixth of September, One Thousand, Nine-Hundred, and Fifty-Eight.
In Witness thereof The Common Seal of the Council has been hereunto affixed in the presence of :-
Stanley Bradbeer, Chairman of the Council; J.H. Boden, Vice-Chairman of the Council; R.Harvey, Clerk to the Council.
Squadrons Formed at Felixstowe.
No. 230 Squadron
was formed at Felixstowe on 20 August 1918 by combining three locally based seaplane Flights and took up maritime reconnaissance flights over the North Sea. The Squadron did not disband after the Armistice, remaining at Felixstowe with F5 floatplanes until 1922 when it moved to Calshot, disbanding in April 1923.
Reformed at Pembroke Dock on 1 December 1934
No. 231 Squadron
was formed form Nos.329 and 330 Flights of the seaplane station at Felixstowe on 20 August 1918 and flew anti-submarine patrols for the remaining months of the war. On 7 July 1919 it was disbanded.
Reforming on 1st July 1940 – 15 Jan 1944, flying Lysanders and Mustangs. Then reforming again 8th Sep 1944 – 28th Mar 1946 flying in Canada as a Transport Squadron.
No. 232 Squadron
was formed on 20 August 1918 from Nos.333, 334 and 335 Flights of the seaplane station at Felixstowe and was engaged in anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrols until the Armistice. The squadron disbanded on 5 January 1919.
On 17 July 1940, B flight of No.3 Squadron at Sumburgh was redesignated No.232 Squadron.
No. 261 Squadron
was formed on 20 August 1918 at Felixstowe from Nos. 339, 340 and 341 Flights of the former RNAS station. Equipped with flying boats, the flights flew patrols over the North Sea until the end of the war, although the Squadron number does not appear to have been adopted. On 13 September 1919, it was officially disbanded.
Reforming on 2nd Aug 1940 – 21st May 1941 Flying in Malta. Reforming again 12th Jul 1941 – 25 Sep 1945 flying in Habbaniva/Cyprus and Far East.
No. 4 Group
Was originally formed in October 1918 at Felixstowe just before the end of World War I and disbanded a year later in 1919.
The Group was reformed on 1 April 1937 as part of RAF Bomber Command based at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk
Squadrons Based at Felixstowe
RAF High Speed Flight (For the Schneider Trophy)
No.209 Squadron RAF 1st May 1935 – 22nd Sep 1937
No.210 Squadron RAF 1st Mar 1931 – 15th Jun 1931
No. 2 Squadron RAF Regiment at RAF Felixstowe.
On 1 October 1960 the Squadron arrived in the United Kingdom for the first time during its 38 year history. II (Field) Squadron moved to RAF Felixstowe as part 33 Strategic Wing an element of the Global Strategic Reserve. In 1961 the Squadron deployed to carry out Internal Security operations at Bahrain in November 1961. This deployment was to last until February 1962.
and more, See :
RAF Felixstowe Squadrons
RAF Felixstowe Pictures
Supermarine S6 N247
T. E. Lawrence – Lawrence of Arabia (Film)
WWI British Army Officer involved in the Arab Revolt. Later during WWII joining the RAF.
Flying Boats at Felixstowe
Imperial War Museum - Pictures related to Felixstowe – Interesting Photos !!