7 Squadron RAF Association

7 Squadron History

Oakington [formally Oakington Airfield & Oakington Barracks] will always be the spiritual home of 7 Squadron yet the Squadron was based there only from October 1940 to July 1945 but being unique in Bomber Command having been based at the same station throughout its World War II operational career.

Construction of Oakington began in the summer of 1939 - the site, some 5 miles north west of Cambridge, having been selected for an expansion scheme airfield.Operational use started in July 1940 when it was used for 218 Squadron (2 Group), which had recently returned from France, with the first offensive operation in August 1940.

In September 1940 Oakington became part of 3 Group when it was chosen as the base for the first Stirling squadron - 7 Squadron. 218 Squadron left Oakington in November 1940 so that 7 Squadron could have more space. Then in November 1940 Spitfires of the recently formed 3 Photo Reconnaissance Unit arrived - however because of the poor surface during the winter months the Spitfires frequently used Alconbury.

Oakington's grass surface was also the cause of problems for the heavy Stirlings during the winter of 1940/1941 - there were a number of landing and take-off accidents because of the strain put on its undercarriages. Oakington was first used by 7 Squadron for an offensive mission in February 1941 to attack Rotterdam docks.

But because of the surface Oakington was frequently unserviceable with the result that the Stirlings had to fly to Wyton to bomb-up for operations. In the spring of 1941 runway construction began - the main runway 05-23 and 1700 yards long was completed first with 01-19 (1300 yards) and 10-28 (1400 yards) completed over the next twelve months. 05-23 was subsequently lengthened to 2000 yards and 01-19 to 1530 yards.

Subsequent building work included realigning the perimeter track and expanding the domestic accommodation to allow for nearly 2000 personnel. The Pathfinder Force, which 7 Squadron had joined in August 1942, became No. 8 Group in the January of 1943. Its policy was to have two Squadrons per airfield. At Oakington 7 Squadron, which was being re-equipped with Lancasters to replace the Stirling, was joined by 627 Squadron formed with the Mosquito.

The latter Squadron moved to No. 5 Group in April 1944 being replaced by the newly formed 571 Squadron. With the end of the conflict 7 Squadron moved to Mepal, 571 to Warboys with Oakington now becoming part of Transport Command. During the summer of 1945 it was the base for 86 and 206 Squadrons flying ex-Coastal Command Liberators for long-range troop transport to the Far East.

After these Squadrons were disbanded in April 1946 a series of other transport squadrons occupied Oakington. It was then taken over by Training Command towards the end of 1950. Eventually the Army took the station over as a barracks. The final regiment to occupy the camp was the Royal Anglian Regiment which moved out in 1999.

For a short period of time the complex and buildings were used to house asylum seekers. The runways were removed for hard-core for the construction of the nearby M11 Motorway (although the perimeter track remains).

Apart from a few buildings, the whole area has now been given over to the development of the new Northstowe Town.

7 Squadron RAF Memorial Window. 

The window was donated by 7th Squadron Association and Installed in 1993. The three emblems at the top of the window are: 1 The RAF eagle, the insignia of Bomber Command, the insignia of 2 Squadron and the angel, on the right, is St Michael, the patron saint of fliers. The stars represent all those airmen who were lost during the 1939-45 War, and who have no known resting place.

The poppies are for our remembrance. The aeroplanes represented in the window show all the aircraft that flew from Oakington Airfield from 1914 to 1945. The men depicted in the window show the uniforms of the Royal Flying Corps, 1914-18, and the uniforms of Bomber Command, 1939-45.

The names of many of the conflicts that the Squadron was involved in (up to and including the Gulf War} are shown in the lower part of the window. Also included in the window are the coloured medal ribbons awarded to members of 7 Squadron, including the highest award for bravery in the air- the Distinguished Flying Cross (purple and red stripes).

Below the window is a cabinet holding the Roll of Honour of all those who fell during the operations of the Squadron. The small Roll of Honour is of the Mosquito Fighter Bomber Squadron, whose memorial can be found by the stairway to the church Bell Tower.

7 Squadron Association Remembrance Sunday Service.

Having been stationed at Oakington airfield during the war the Squadron now consider All Saints Church Longstanton as their spiritual home. Because of the Covid 19 pandemic and the social distancing restrictions, it was not possible for all of our friends from 7 Squadron Association to join us at All Saints Church Longstanton on Sunday [11 October 2020] to take part in their Annual act of Remembrance of all who died from within the Squadron during the 1st and 2nd World Wars.

To mark the occasion, we produced a short [YouTube] video [see  below] which was sent on to Malcolm Reeves who is the Chairman of 7 Squadron Association.

Link: https://youtu.be/ZsMiXXy0ZNs