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Westgate Seaplane Station


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#1 Myles Francis

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 02:41 PM

My grandfather served in the RFC/RAF at the tail end of WW1, having spent over 2 years in Belgium and France with the 12th Bn Manchester Regiment, and the majority of his time was spent at Westgate Seaplane Station.

Does anybody know if anything survives of the base, whereabouts it actually was in Westgate, or if there are any photos surviving?

Thanks in advance.

#2 horatio2

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 02:53 PM

The Fleet Air Arm Museum has many WW1 pictures. I would be surprised if Westgate did not feature in their collection.

#3 HERITAGE PLUS

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 03:24 PM

For location see:

RAF Manston started its Aviation days as a Royal Naval Station in 1916, with a base at Westgate Bay for seaplanes. The early airfield was on the area now occupied by the passeng

http://www.nottingha...o.uk/Places.htm



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#4 horatio2

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 03:41 PM

This plan is in Sturtivant & Page "RN Aircraft Serials & Units"

[attachment=48030:attachment]

#5 Paul & Susan

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:31 PM

QUOTE (Myles Francis @ Nov 15 2006, 02:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My grandfather served in the RFC/RAF at the tail end of WW1, having spent over 2 years in Belgium and France with the 12th Bn Manchester Regiment, and the majority of his time was spent at Westgate Seaplane Station.

Does anybody know if anything survives of the base, whereabouts it actually was in Westgate, or if there are any photos surviving?

Thanks in advance.


#6 Paul & Susan

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:36 PM

See if you can get hold of a copy of "Wings over Westgate" by Geoffrey Williams, published in 1985, from Kent County Council Library Services.

#7 mickdavis

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 05:47 PM

It's nice to see the plan I drew for Ray's book. The Manston-Westgate connection is the wrong way round. Westagate was first used as a seaplane station from 15-18 June 1914 but three seaplanes from Grain that were participating in Fleet Exercises. The site was developed and opened for used by an RNAS seaplane flight on 29 July, but was put under Care & Maintenance on 3 September. It re-opened on 20 September 1915 and housed a miscellany of seaplanes, but mainly Sopwith Babies and Short 184s, that operated under the station title but sometimes as the Nore War Flight. The RNAS at Westgate became the Westgate Air Contingent when the RAF formed on 1 April 1918 and then 406 Flight from 25 May. 219 Sqn HQ formed there on 22 July and assumed control of 406 Flt. 442 Flt of 219 Sqn arrived from Felixstowe during November 1918 and the seaplane continued to operate well into the following year. 219 Sqn disbanded at Westgate on 7 February 1919. The station then closed. It had occupied 11 acres in 1914 but that was enlarged to 23 acres when it re-opened. The autumn 1918 Quarterly Survey of Stations gave its hangarage as one 180x60ft unit and one 200x100ft unit.
Westgate aerodrome occupied 37 acres of Mutrix Farm and opened as a temporary HD site on 3 August 1914. It was closed temporarily from December 1914 until 15 January 1915. 2 Sqn RNAS A Flt was in residence from 9 April 1915 until July of that year, when it moved to Dunkerque. Machines from RNAS Dover were then detached for HD until Westgate's own War Flight formed on 20 September. That unit operated until 27 May 1916, when it moved to Manston. The aerodrome had one 180x60ft hangar and another 70x70ft. These were dismantled and re-erected at Manston when the station closed.
Manston opened in 1916 as a sub-station to Westagte seaplane station, when Westgate serodrome closed. At that time it occupied 20 acres. It went on to develop as a major station, occupying 680 acres by the end of the war.

#8 Myles Francis

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 08:18 PM

Thanks for all the info everyone. The plan is especially useful, as I know from reading elsewhere that the seaplane station was below the cliffs on which the aerodrome was located.


I was at work when I posted early, so didn't have the exact dates to hand as to when my grandfather was at Westgate. According to his RAF service record, he joined the RFC on 19th Feb 1918 and was in a Unit titled "1WS". On 15th June 1918 he transferred to "RD", before moving to "Yar Stn" [Yarmouth Seaplane Station] on 18th July 1918. He then moved to Manston-Westgate on 30th July 1918, assigned to 219 Sqn. His final movement was on 22nd April 1919 when he was moved from Manston-Westgate to "C Palace Dis Cn" [pressumably Crystal Palace Discharge Centre], before transfering to the RAF reserve on 22nd May 1919.

So, next quesion - any ideas which units were "1WS" and "RD".

Again, thanks for everybodies help.

#9 horatio2

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 10:12 PM

RD = Repair Depot
1WS could be No.1 Workshop (but not certain on this).

#10 Martynb

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 09:36 AM

I can definitely recommend 'Wings Over Westgate'.

As someone who grew up in Westgate-On-Sea, I can also vouch for the fact that virtually nothing survives on the ground. The last surviving chunk, one of the slipways down onto the beach, was actually removed by the local council just a few years ago for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend. The surrounding area has, since WW1, been generally built up and/or landscaped with the once-common tourist in mind (promenade, gardens, car-park, hotels and flats).

#11 Myles Francis

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Posted 25 May 2007 - 01:20 PM

QUOTE (horatio2 @ Nov 15 2006, 11:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
RD = Repair Depot
1WS could be No.1 Workshop (but not certain on this).

I have now got my grandfather's army service records from the MoD and they reveal that 1WS was No.1 Wireless School at Farnborough.

Don't know if he was any good as a wireless operator though, because he was soon made a "Seaplane Wader" and transferred to Yarmouth, then Westgate!