Hawkinge Cemetery

Posted by Warbirds Pilot on 18 November 2014 | Comments

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Our research into the history of Percival Q6 was just one of the reasons for a visit to East Kent last July. G-AFFD was based at Lympne by Sir Philip Sassoon; we believe that it was flown by RAF fighter pilots stationed at nearby RAF Hawkinge with II(AC) and 25(F) Squadrons. East Kent is perilously close to what was Nazi-occupied Northern France during the Battle of Britain and retains much of interest to those wishing to learn about the Battle.

Nestled in the Kentish downs, a few miles north of Folkstone, Hawkinge housed the strategically important RAF base from 1915 until 1961.

During WWII RAF Hawkinge was home to dozens of fighter squadrons, with Spitfires, Hurricanes, Hinds and Hectors at their disposal. Today much of the airfield is built over, with only some of the original layout still visible. There is, however, the Kent Battle of Britain Museum, and to the north of the town, a large cemetery, to which I paid a visit.

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Although there is a German corner to the cemetery, there are places where the RAF and Luftwaffe are buried side-by-side.

The National Memorial to 'The Few' at Capel-Le-Ferne is a must see, while Hawkinge itself is home to the Kent Battle of Britain Museum. Hawkinge cemetery a moving visit; not only is the South Eastern corner devoted to German casualties, but there are examples of RAF and German dead buried alongside each other.  Our guide to the area was retired airline performance engineer, local historian and enthusiast David Goldsmith, whose knowledge of local aviation history is surpassed only by his knowledge of local watering holes. Thus, we found ourselves following in the footsteps of RAF Hawkinge's Battle of Britain pilots in the very friendly Cat & Custard Pot at Paddlesworth, while gentlemen of a certain age who enjoyed Susannah York's performance in the Battle of Britain film will have to at least drive past The Jackdaw at Denton.