19 thoughts on “Gloster Javelin Jet Fighter

  1. I’m working on a book about the Gloster Javelin. I would like to hear from anybody who has memories of the Javelins that operated from RAF Middleton St George. Thanks.

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  2. Tony Fox, your memory of them taking out a window on the train at Darlington Bank Top Station leads me to believe that one of a set of modified carriages must have been marshalled into the train. To facilitate forces personnel, and cicvilians, injured and confined to stretchers a set of coaches had their windows modified so that they could be pivoted horizontally open and removed to allow stretchers be passed from the platform to the compartment. The last time I dealt with one of these carriages was as Station Supervisor on Platform 8 at Newcastle Central Station in 1978. The train was a Lourdes special that ran every year to take passengers travelling on pilgrimage to Lourdes on the UK leg of their journey. Whilst in 275 Railway Squadron RCT (TA) my duties included service on the British Forces Ambulance Trains that were stationed at Munchen Gladbach under the care of 79 Railway Squadron RCT Regulars. These trains had a similar design to allow the loading of wounded on stretchers. Rail lines situated within the danger area at the end of runways, Middleton St Geroge and Prestwick are examples, have trip wires fitted that when broken by an overshooting aircraft alerted the signaller who would put signals to danger thus preventing collision. With the advent of automatic signalling these trip wires now automatically switch railway signals to danger.

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  3. Tony, the accident my mother was in was in 1943-44, there had been a few crashes as planes came in badly damaged they were never reported in the local papers or on the news as it would have helped the enemy with information. My mother went from Norton Station to the halt at the Aerodrome and it was just short of the halt that particular crash happened a Canadian Halifax which landed on the rails and burned, there were no survivors and my Mother was a very lucky woman. The train had come to a stop over the wreckage but when the driver saw the fire round the carriages he pulled the train along. They were not supposed to talk about such things but when your mother leaves home with long hair and comes back with frazzled hair smelling of ashes you ask questions, that is after you stop laughing which got me a clip on the ear. The people in the train were sent to the Ambulance room, given a cup of tea and Salvolatile to sniff then were told they would be best getting on with their work, it would take their mind off things. That is how it was done back then. Planes had to hit the runway which was just over the railway – some fell short, others went over, although I believe more than one hit the rails. I was there with my father when there was an almighty explosion. A plane had taken off for a raid fully loaded when they had problems and returned, they did not make the runway. The dangers were not just over Germany.

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  4. Regarding the incident, mentioned by Frank P. Mee, who wrote ‘…some made it back only to crash on landing. My mother was trapped in one of those crashes as the plane landed on the Stockton to Darlington rail line, and the train ran into it…’ I remember the incident well, and the foreign pilot who was injured in the crash. After my discharge from the Royal Army Medical Corp, I commenced State Registered Nurse Training, at the Darlington Memorial Hospital. In 1953/54, I was nearing the end of my training and was working in the orthopedic ward, when the pilot from the rail line crash was admitted. It was Hilmi, a Syrian Air Force officer, attending pilot training on jet planes at Middleton St George. From his account, he was returning to base when the jet engine of his (Meteor?) plane cut out. Realising a crash was inevitable; he made a decision to crash land on the railway line, hopeful that the plane would glide along the rails, lessening the impact. I am sure that action saved his life, though he sustained a severely fractured pelvis. After surgery, he was admitted to the ward, where he spent the next few weeks, encased in a complete waist to knees, hip plaster cast. Male nurses were very few and far between, in the early 50s and after a short time Hilmi, who was only a couple of years older than me, began to regard me as a trusted friend. His shy wife (Fatima) was flown to Darlington and lodged in a house in Stanhope Rd, which I passed each day, when going to, or coming off duty. Hilmi only permitted Fatima to visit him on the afternoons when I was on duty, and therefore available to accompany her back to her lodgings after dark. This arrangement continued until he was stable enough for transfer to a hospital in London, en route to Damascus. At Darlington Railway Station a window had to be removed from the railway carriage to get Hilmi and his stretcher onto the train. I accompanied him to his overnight stay in a London hospital, providing nursing services and facilitating the transfers between ambulances, etc., on this first leg of his return to Syria. I remember Hilmi and Fatima for their always courteous and gentle demeanor. I still have the intricately carved, mosaic box which Hilmi gave to me the Christmas he spent in Darlington. It once contained chocolates; it is now used as a jewelry box.

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  5. Javelin 8 aircraft of 33 Squadron were fitted with the revolutionary Instrument Landing System (ILS) and a new type of Radio Compass at Middleton St George in 1959 prior to an urgent short term mission to Cyprus in order to monitor yet another local disturbance. Cypriot records state that the Middleton St George contingent were in fact Javelin 7’s; that information is incorrect!

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  6. We did know about dummy air fields but remember the times. “careless talk costs lives” was on every wall bill post board and drummed into us at school, we never spoke of them. I do believe they moved the lights around now and then but have no idea who did it.

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  7. Thanks Frank for your reply. Do you, or does anyone, know if the men who went out in 1941/2 to put flares along the Tees to create a decoy runway were members of the RAF or Army? There is a suggestion that they were members of the Royal Artillery. Any clues gratefully accepted.

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  8. I was in the RAF in 1955 and remember the national rail strike in that year, I was on leave at the time. All airmen were ordered to report to their nearest RAF station – which for me was RAF Thornaby – and what a shambles. We were lined up in our hundreds and the RAF lorries were taking us away in the general direction of where we wanted to go. I got in one lorry and as it was pulling away I heard one of the sergeants telling all the others waiting to come back the next day. As the lorry was going over Victoria bridge I realised that they hadn”t taken any of our names so I decided to have another night at home. I passed this on and most of us hopped out of the back of the lorry. Going back the next day they were more organized – name taking was top of the agenda. That night I finished up sleeping on the Naffi floor at RAF Fazakerly (is the spelling right) I was on my way to Raf Wharton. That strike paralysed the country and could have been the death of the railways – enter Dr Beeching.

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  9. I am sorry to say I remember the laying of runways from the cab of a truck. We never knew the men working apart from Tom Dick etc. The turnaround was quite fast with, at times, a line of trucks waiting to tip the loads. We went to most of the dromes being built. Croft, Dalton, Catterick, Leeming, Dishforth, Topcliffe, Linton and a lot of places long gone. In those days of 20 mph speed limits overloaded trucks and winding country lanes a lot of those places were long distance. On top of that Dad delivered steam coal to factory boiler houses all over the same area. I was 10 when the war started and 16 when it ended. Because of the times a lot of memory is in my head but names have gone, if I ever knew them. I will answer any queries I can though if you wish to ask.

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  10. Frank,are you the missing link? Does anyone know any of the names of the men who worked on the decoy airfields at Middleton St George (Goosepool)in 1941/2? They were billeted in Northallerton and Great Smeaton.I have my toes and fingers crossed.

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  11. A highlight of this open day at RAF Middleton Saint George(MSG) was the presence of new, all white, Vulcan and Victor Mk.2 bombers in the static display, the airfield being a V-bomber diversionary base during the sixties, with the current fire school now occupying most of the V-bomber dispersal site. Javelins equipped about fourteen RAF fighter squadrons between 1959 and 1962. The above Javelin XH904/T joined 33 Squadron at MSG on 2/6/61 until 18/11/62 when the squadron disbanded, which dates this photograph. Some other Javelins at MSG from late 1960 were XH780/A, XH903/G, XH905/E, XH907/C, XH911/J and XH912/S. Two ex-MSG examples XH897 and XH903 are preserved. Most of 33 Squadrons Javelins and crews, including XH904, became 5 Squadron at RAF Geilenkirchen, Germany from 28/11/62 to 7/10/65. XH904 was built as a FAW. Mk.7, accepted on 6/4/59 at 19 Maintenance Unit(MU), RAF Saint Athan, and then sent to 23 Squadron at RAF Coltishall from 16/6/59 to 5/5/60. It returned to Glosters for conversion to a FAW. Mk. 9 from 5/5/60 to 2/12/60, gaining a more powerful engine. Returning to Saint Athan, it spent three weeks with 29 Squadron in Scotland, before being issued to 33 Squadron above. It was written off on 19/10/65 with CAT.3 damage (repairable on site, but beyond the units technical resources) and sent to 27 MU, RAF Shawbury on 8/12/65. It was declared a non-effective airframe at 27 MU on 2/12/66, cannilbalised and sold for scrap in late 1967.

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    • My great uncle, John Albert Farey, was a navigator with 33 Squadron at Middleton st George. On 18th May 1962 his aircraft XH755/Y crashed in the north sea off Northumberland. The pilot was rescued but no trace of my uncle was ever found, despite several witnesses from other aircraft having seen him eject. Thanks for the info and very interesting site. Paul Quinn from Darlington

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      • Hello Paul, my name is Matthew farey. Albert was my grandad, I’m looking for more information on him and his RAF life. Do you know of any good webpages I could use?

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  12. Goosepool as we called Middleton St George has many memories for me. Dad being a haulage contractor took material on his truck for the new landing strips and taxi tracks being laid for the big planes that would eventually arrive. At the time Dad had a German Opel truck bought from the Japanese Garage owner in Middlesbrough, although it was bigger with more power and a cab heater I doubt it was the thing to do just before a war. I would be allowed to drive the truck once we got inside the gate standing up changing gear on an all crash box with a clip on the ear if you grated the change. Holidays and sometimes weekends I would go with him although from lunch time Saturday to Monday morning was usually maintenance to keep the truck on the road which Dad did himself with my help. I soon learned how to change plugs set points and clean a carb. My Mother was directed to work at Goosepool as a woman electrician working in the women”s quarters but more often found in the hanger roof fitting new lights or changing lamp bulbs, it seemed some of the men were unable to work off the rickety ladder towers they used, mother was always a bit of a dare devil. We saw the Canadians arrive and the change over to the four engined bombers. I do remember planes coming back and wounded being taken off by ambulance crews, the damage was so bad at times you wondered how they made it back and some made it back only to crash on landing. My mother was trapped in one of those crashes as the plane landed on the Stockton to Darlington rail line and the train ran into it. She had very frizzled hair for a while caused by the fire. I do remember the first jets, we did not know what they were, I had friends called up who did their time at Goosepool living at home most of the time. One memory was the gate guards during the war, when the saw the Opel coming they would dive behind the sand bagged guard hut and shout “hande hock” it sounded more like hands on socks and have a bit of fun making us get out of the truck with our hands over our heads. They would then search (quickly) the load of warm tarmac on the back for German para troops, it was funny the first couple of times but became boring. The Canadians were great, we sometimes had them home for a meal and they would bring sweets or Sweet Caporal cigarettes with them. I suppose to sit round the glowing fire talking about home was a boost to their moral. Now still living on the flight path to what ever they are calling Goosepool now instead of four engined bombers we have passenger jets, life goes on.

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    • Hi Frank, my father had similar tales to yours but he was one of the guards. For base security at one camp gateway you had to give that weeks password to get through the gate, it was a good idea which failed in practice because most of the enlisted men took no notice whatsoever of the password rules, and when tackled at the gate and asked for the password they would answer ‘Go and @*!~#…, to which the standard reply would be ‘Pass Friend’.

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  13. Some interesting comments on Middleton St George. I remember the Gloster Javelins of 33 Squadron and the Hawker Hunters of 92 Squadron in the late 1950s early 1960s. The airfield was given over to civil use from 1964, though prior to this English Electric Lightnings made appearances as I think the base was part of an Operational Conversion Unit for these aircraft. Incidentally, Norman Tebbit, the well known Conservative politician of the 1980s and 90s did part of his RAF pilot training at Middleton on Gloster Meteors in the late 1940s early 1950s?

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  14. To celebrate Battle of Britain Week later this month (20 Sept), I have sent this picture of a Gloster Javelin jet fighter of 33 Squadron based at RAF Middleton Saint George. Quality pictures of M St. G Javelins are rare, and me and my dad took this, it looks like me centre with my back to the camera. These big fighters used to roar low over Stockton High Street and our house in Norton all week when I was a child in the early sixties/late 50″s protecting Teessides and N. East airspace This aircraft carries four dummy de Havilland Firestreak missiles, the aircraft to the left is a Vulcan nuclear bomber. I know the enclosed photo was taken from the Stockton side of the airfield from the position of the Hunter fighters on the runway behind the Javelins nose, its also 45 years I think since the airfield was vacated by the RAF.

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  15. The Javelin was from the All-Weather Night Fighter squadron at Middleton St George,which was also a V-Bomber Base up to the late sixties. The jet engines of the Javelins used to make a dreadful howling sound, which echoed around the night when the planes were on their landing approach to Middleton. I think that there were complaints in the press since the approach path took them over Norton and Billingham…I used to see them from Portrack. The Javelin, by the way, was not a very good aircraft, and would have been fairly useless in intercepting Russian bombers. One of the world experts on the Javelin used to live in Norton. Is he still around?

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