13 thoughts on “RAF Thornaby-on-Tees, 1939-1945

  1. Just sent of for this photo to hang up in our house as we have just moved into a house on millbank lane and will try to work out if we can pinpoint our house out on this old photo ? Can not seem to find anymore old photos of millbank lane shame really as its so interesting looking at local history photos


    • Look at row of houses on the right, from bottom follow line up right to end the line of houses goes off to the right at an angle. This is Millbank Lane. The square at the back of this line looks like The New Park, the junction at the top I think is Thornaby Road, all the buildings above Millbank Lane RAF. I may be wrong and I will stand corrected


  2. I’m surpised no-one has mentioned Blue Bell Woods, and the long walk down the long lane at the l/h side of Littleboy Park that ended up at the ‘pill Box’ adjoining the main runway which I suppose machine gunners were expected to use if an invasion occurred. We used to climb on top off this Pillbox to see the Wellington bombers take off. I always got very proud when both the ‘Pilots and the Tail-End Charlies used to wave to us like mad whilst waiting for the takeoff orders. My sister Anne Wilson and her friend Gladys Fulton used to say they were off to bomb Germany. For this reason every boy in my school used to draw RAF planes shooting down German Aircraft in cartoon type boyish drawings. It was always a RAF Spitfire with guns blazing which had the upper hand in aerial combat, (I wonder what would have been said by our teachers if I had drawn the Luftwaffe winning just one battle?) I once saw a beautiful Alsation dog laid dead on the airfield, that had got caught up in the huge barbed wire rolls that surrounded the airfield, this dog had died trying to free himself, at a later date one of my dogs ripped it’s foot itself on some laid in the grass. There was a sizable camp waste tip near Blue Bell Wood which I Ioved exploring, I once found a planes leg and wheel, there was tons of hares and rabbits about and in season primroses and bluebells all over. Why anyone picked them I don’t know because they wilted and died within hours. Today I often wonder about those young boys who waved to us and how they went on.


  3. Can anybody tell us why a barricade was erected at the bottom of Stranton Street, Thornby during the Second World War, but not on ajoining streets. My mother can remember it, but not why it was there.


  4. If anyone is trying to figure out what this photo consists of, here is some help:
    – This image was taken with the camera pointing south-east.
    – Horse Shoe Bend (a meander of the Tees River) can be seen in the upper right quarter.
    – The large field in the centre of the housing is the Little Boy park with surrounding Thorntree Road and Millbank Lane.
    – The roundabout below the ‘e’ is the end of Trenchard Avenue where the flats are.
    – Thornaby Woods is the dark region where the dot of the ‘i’ is.
    – The fields above the woods are now Ingleby Barwick


    • Jordan, I think the park is the Village Park on Thorntree Road and not the Littleboy, which is on Acklam Road. What is the roundabout? As far as I can recall the first roundabout in Thornaby was built during the 1960’s at the Harewood arms. Could the one shown here be on the aerodrome or is it something else? Any ideas on this?

      Bob Wilson, was your brother Tom Wilson ex Barnard Street in the 1950’s, and who later went up to University with me where we read History.


      • Hello Eric, Yes, Tom was my brother and responsible for having me fight battle after battle in Thornaby for hIm. I can picture him right now with that ‘cheeky little grin’ he always had and his famous War Cry, “hit me and I’ll tell our Bob”, Sadly he died suddenly about 2 years ago, and with living in Leeds I knew nothing whatosoever about it, I still don’t know whether he was buried or cremated. Bob.


  5. When I served at Northolt we had an aerial view of the airfield during the war on our crew-room wall, that showed how the large empty grass area was painted with dark green lines to simulate hedgerows when viewed from the air. This broke up the airfield’s appearance and made it more difficult for enemy reconnaissance or bomber aircraft to find. It appears from the photo that RAF Thornaby received the same treatment.


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