This is the story of Detling airfield, from its earliest days through its role in the Second World War – when several dramatic and tragic events occurred – and finally to more peaceful times, when the airfield became a popular base for recreational gliding. Kent’s North Downs were selected for an airfield as early as 1915 by the Directorate of Works, and levelling the chosen fields was still in progress when the first aircraft arrived in June that year. At first, Detling was home to the Royal Naval Air Service, but by 1917 it had been taken over by the Royal Flying Corps. Hangars were erected and various units were based there until 31 October 1919, when the airfield was abandoned. It was not until the late 1930s that the airfield was selected for expansion. It became a great strategic asset for the RAF during the Second World War and, consequently, a popular target for Luftwaffe raids. Many men and women lost their lives at Detling. The airfield is now the site of the annual Kent County Show, but two memorials stand as poignant reminders of the epic events that transpired in this otherwise sleepy corner of Britain. Anthony J. Moor’s exhaustively researched book is the first to tell the full story of the part Detling played in the defence of the realm and the history of flight.
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