Hornchurch air cadets experience life in a Battle of Britain Second World War control room

Youngsters recreate RAF Hornchurch’s vital role against the Luftwaffe

YOUNGSTERS got the chance to experience life for Second World War RAF crews during a visit to an RAF bunker.

Air Cadets and staff from 452 (Hornchurch) Squadron Air Training Corps, based in Tyrells Close, Upminster, were given a tour of the bunker 60 feet underground RAF Uxbridge where young RAF recruits played a vital role in fighting the Luftwaffe during the battle of Britain.

The operations room at Uxbridge was responsible for operations for 11 Group, which protected British air space across London and South East England.

Hurricane and Defiant fighter crews flying from RAF Hornchurch, now Hornchurch Country Park in Albyns Farm, South End Road but then a major fighter station, were a crucial part of 11 Group.

The cadets stepped into the shoes of the radio controllers, many of whom were not much older than the cadets are now, and using information they had researched and the actual equipment used during the war, recreated action from August 26 1940, a day when the Luftwaffe targeted RAF airfields including RAF Hornchurch.

Cadet Amy Ash, 17, said: “The day at the Uxbridge operations room was really enjoyable. I especially enjoyed learning how RAF’s Fighter Command used many strands of information to control the fighter aircraft.”

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The visit was the culmination of months of effort after the teenage cadets decided to work on a project to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Flt Lt Dave Emmins, 452’s Commanding Officer, said: “The visit to the operations room has really helped in bring to life the cadets’ researches of the Battle of Britain project and the recreation of a raid where aircraft from Hornchurch were scrambled to counter a Luftwaffe raid.

“Although there are small elements of the old RAF presence still to be found in Hornchurch, plus the Hurricane play area on the old airfield site, this day was an opportunity to put a human face on the one of this country’s most famous times.”

Air Cadets get experience of a wide-range of activities including flying, gliding, target shooting and sport from age 13 upwards. The Squadron parades at its headquarters on Tyrells Close, Upminster on Monday and Thursday evenings. For more information call 01708 250320.