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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As most of you know Santa Pod was RAF Podington in WWII.
The USAAF called it Station 109
The longest residents were the USAAF 92nd Bomb Group with 4 squadrons of B-17's , from Sep. '43 to June '45 during which time they flew 300 combat missions.
Here are a few short colour films of life on the base back then.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=92NDBOMBGROUP&search_type=&aq=f
 

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Thanks for a great post ,enjoyed the films of the planes and events that took place where we go to see the racing now . I sometimes think as I drive past the Flag and Memorial about the sacrifices made back then...
Near where I live there was an airfield at Bovingdon which was also a bomber base. One of the planes that didn't make it back crashed in woods 'a stones throw' from my house. A German plane machine gunned some of the houses in my road on its way to attack the airfield at Leavesden [now the famous film studios]about half a mile away! Grateful I live in more peaceful times.
 

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Some pretty interesting video's there.

I found this layout of the base a bit later than the war, once concrete runways were built.



What's unusual is on google you can just about make out impressions in the fields of the old runways. I've rotated the google image to match the orientation of the image above.

 

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As most of you know Santa Pod was RAF Podington in WWII. The USAAF called it Station 109. The longest residents were the USAAF 92nd Bomb Group with 4 squadrons of B-17's , from Sep. '43 to June '45 during which time they flew 300 combat missions.
Click on the bar above the photo to view full size

 

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Why did they use "Santa"? as in Saint in Spanish. Saint Poddington!!
Because a lot of the airmen based at Podington came from near the Santa Ana race track in CA so they named the Podington track after there.
I had a guy send me some photo's from the base in WW2. It's a sobering thought sometimes to think men gave their lives for us on the very place we have as our drag racing home.
I'm glad their's a memorial to remind people as they come towards the racetrack..
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Some pretty interesting video's there.

I found this layout of the base a bit later than the war, once concrete runways were built.

That is the war time layout, it had concrete runways/hardstandings from when it was first built.
 

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Ah ok, I assumed that it was a grass strip, but thinking about it of course it wouldn't have been, durrrrr brain, bombers won't like taking off on a grass strip.
 

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I read an excellent book a good few years back called 'Airfields Then And Now" (Mighty 8th?)

From what I remember there was a huge crash one foggy day at the Pod which killed many brave flyers.

I think the copse over the back was the ammo store

I do remember visiting the nissan huts and saw the stunning murial which was later transfered to Duxford Aircraft Museum, there was all sorts of American war stuff over there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Click on the bar above the photo to view full size

Lovely artwork, shame the squadron tail codes for the Pod are wrong. All the Pod aircraft had a B in a triangle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I read an excellent book a good few years back called 'Airfields Then And Now" (Mighty 8th?)

From what I remember there was a huge crash one foggy day at the Pod which killed many brave flyers.

I think the copse over the back was the ammo store

I do remember visiting the nissan huts and saw the stunning murial which was later transfered to Duxford Aircraft Museum, there was all sorts of American war stuff over there.
The big accident was when one aircraft aborted take off in thick fog & turned around to taxi back along the runway , unfortunately the next aircraft had started its takeoff run & the two collided in what is now our shutdown area.
Fully laden with fuel & bombs neither crew stood a chance in the resulting collision & all 20 died.

Yes the wood behind the pits was the ammo dump.
 

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I was privileged to know Russell Ray, a member of the 8th Army Airforce in 1944 flying out of RAF Chelvaston (about 10 miles east of the Pod), only 20 years later I would be watching the Dragfest there. How relatively quickly the world changes.
Russel Ray was a Ball Gunner on a B17 on his second mission from the UK to bomb Berlin in 1944. In his words the first trip was easy, 'you didn't know what to expect' but his second was anything but easy. His plane was damaged terminally and the Captain gave the order to bail out. Until the day he died he had no idea how he was one of the three who got of the stricken Bomber. To get out of the Ball Gun Turret it had to be aligned and if the hydraulics were out of action the Turret had to be manually cranked to allow the gunner to get out.
Russel and the two other surviving crew members Parachuted safely down and were taken prisoner east of Berlin. He spent nearly a year in a POW camp near the Polish border until the imminent arrival of the Russian Army caused the Guards to join with the POWs and march west for three months until they met a Canadian Army unit near Hanover.
To cut a long story short Russell arrived back in New York and the travelled by Bus to his home near Chattanooga Tennessee. The bus dropped him off late at night in Chattanooga and he walked to his friends house, and then by car to his Mother's house.
These are random memories from a small illustrated book that Russell wrote for friends and family and I was pleased to contribute photographs of what is left of Chelvaston (it is still an American listening station but the runways have gone) also on his request I photographed the Village Hall where he attended a dance on the night before his last flight.
I think that I have had a good life with some adventures along the way but our modern lives pale in comparison to the lives of the Second World War generation.

Rog.
 

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Never heard of RAF Chelvaston before. Having figured out where the runways were in relation to Chelvaston using Multimap aerial photos (look to the south east) i spent an hour reading these letters from someone stationed there...

http://www.khosla.com/levine/chap9.htm

If youre ever near Rushden on a Motorcycle, check out the bends running down into Chelvaston from Kimbolton :tup:
 

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guess like a lot of people i always pay respect when passing the memorial at the pod, its easy too forget the sacrifice, pain and heart ache that occured so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we do, and im sure the guys and gals of that era would have no problem in santa pod now being used for what it is now, amazing clips of back then and thank you to them all :tup:
 

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This is a good thread ,we all have great fun at the Pod but it probably dont occur to us what its real use was for ,respect to all that served there .
 

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I would think that us Drag Racers are as, if not more respectful than most, every time I drive past the 8th Army Airforce memorial I am pleased to see it still in pristine condition.

I took a photo of the memorial for Russell Ray, he was very impressed and included it in his book.

Rog.
 

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Fantastic thread with some great links. This kind of thing makes the forum for me...the ability to deviate slightly on to a tangent from rodding but with posts and information that I think is of interest to us all.
I remember many nights laying on the grass at the Pod wanting to go and explore those interesting looking sheds but never actually doing it...back in the seventies there seemed to be so much 'stuff' laying around down there.

I find the whole 'American military over here' situation really interesting and have often wondered how much they influenced people in the early days of rodding and racing. The bases gave us the breakers yards with a supply of both engines and even complete cars in the fifties. The visual impact of seeing the cars definately influenced kids in the early days. My mate George remembers Eastcote Lane in Ruislip being nose to tail with Americana, many of them muscle cars in between the station wagons. Pete Devlin recently told me that growing up in Swindon postwar had a huge influence on him with cars and music due to the proximity of the bases. Harrow had a Safeway with a full on American Diner in place back in the sixties and Rayners Lane I believe was the first Pizza place over here. Things that we take for granted but very radical in the country at that time. All images that stuck with lads growing up back then. Yes I truly respect and admire what the guys did in the war, we will never know just how much they gave, but I'm also grateful for how they contributed to our hobby and my personal pleasure over the years.
 

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I think that we should preserve as many WW2 buildings as possible, they jog our memories and help us to remember the sacrifices of our Parents and Grand Parents.

Rog.
 
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