Royal Air Force in Great Yarmouth

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Battle Of Britain Parade 1951

By Malcolm Raynor

There was a RAF presence and connection in the area, certainly for many years but in particular from the late Thirties until the late Fifties. In the First World War the Royal Navy Air Service had a base on the South Denes. At the end of the War it was amalgamated with the Royal Flying Corps to become the Royal Air Force and a development at that time led to the formation of the RAF Marine Service which provided Air Sea Rescue and had a base at the mouth of the River Yare in Gorleston on Sea, and the actual RAF Operational Stations being inland at Colitishall and Horsham St Faith.

However, the main involvement was the proximity of the Radar Stations to the Town and its facilities for off duty Airmen who were stationed there pre 1939 until the late fifties when the last station becoming redundant. That being RAF Hopton which had been built and opened in 1938 .The other Radar Stations in the Vicinity being at Happisburgh and Winterton, they having closed shortly after WW11. However, the Raf Works Department still maintained a Depot at the latter .

From Hopton the personel enjoyed the Off Duty Periods in Gorleston and Great Yarmouth and to a lesser degee in Lowestoft. In the main the Floral Hall in Gorleston on Saturday Nights for dancing to Eddie Gates and his Band. That seemed obligatory whilst roller skating at the Wellington Pier and in the Winter at The Gorleston Holiday Camp had the advantage of being indoors. As many liked to have a drink the most frequented hostelries were -- The Dukes Head in Yarmouth mainly due to the fact the Yarmouth- Lowestoft Bus Stops were within a few yards . In Gorleston the King William IV and the Pier Hotel and of course The White Hart In Hopton Village.

During The Battle Of Britain remembrance period the unit provided yearly a Flight on Parade (with an Raf Band from Raf Halton if my memory serves me well) In 1950 the parade started at the Wellington Pier and marched to The Britannia Pier. In 1951 it appears to have been assembled at the Town Hall to march through the Town. To the most if not all who served at Hopton it is considered it was a most memorable time and considered to be the Halcyon Days in their lifetime. I am sure and they are grateful for the Local populace for the friendliness hospitality (and I suppose tolerence on a few occaisions) and we recognize the same. 

During the 1953 East Coast floods the airmen at Hopton were mustered and were involved in the rescue of the citizens from Southtown, Cobholm and the adjacent area.  



This page was added by Malcolm Raynor on 05/01/2011.
Comments about this page

Around the time the article above was posted Ted Linzey, Reg Green and myself have attempted to contact many of the others who served with us at RAF HOPTON in 1950-1952 to which we have had some success. Albeit limited we have although from different sources managed to reach double figures. In our efforts we have ascertained that some married local girls but most importantly that a few remained in Great Yarmouth after their Demob. With this in mind I am making a request for your assistance, but not only those in the RAF but friends and acquaintances who frequented the Floral Hall, Gorleston Roller Skating Social events at the Camp - Beach Approach Holiday Camp and the White Hart in Hopton. I have no objection to my email address being given which is now having changed my ISP

By Malcolm Raynor
On 27/02/2012

I was in the RAF based at Hopton Radar Station and spent 18 months; in the area off duty it was Great Yarmouth and more particular Gorleston where I had a long time relationship with a girl and her family named Starbuck who lived on the Magdelan Estate, they as I did came from Nottinghamshire. She worked at Erie Resister her Father at Birds Eye they were the Halcyon days in my life. For recreation we would go every Saturday Night to The Floral Hall and for a short time to Caister Holiday Camp on Wednesday Nights. We also frequented the Gorleston Holiday Camp and the Winter Roller Skating if in Great Yarmouth. We always went to the Queens Head for a drink mainly chosen by reason the last bus back to camp. Eastern Counties service to Lowestoft bus stop was opposite the Hotel and we were given a shout when it was coming. Over the Years I have made visits to the area and noticed many changes many for the good but one in particular I consider should not have been allowed that is the Floral Hall, probably it has so many memories of the Saturday Dances and Eddie Gates and his Orchestra; his signature "Liza" he stands out in my memory being a lover of Jazz And Swing which preceded the modern music trend. I would love to be able to have recordings of him. About two years ago a friend of mine contacted me and we have made contact with others who served at the same time as we did and still get the odd email from some of the others from that time with help from The Yarmouth Mercury and Lowestoft Journal. I imagine there are very few of the guys left or locals being in our eighties now (JUST). We also discovered some on Demob actually stayed in the area namely Dusty Miller and Gordon Scott. We actually found four already but they were mainly resident in the area prior to doing their Service. We obviously like to find more or are there any recordings about of Eddie Gates. Can anyone HELP ????

By Malcolm Raynor
On 01/10/2012

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