RAF Benson Douglas-Hamilton History

Tracing nearly eight decades of flying, the Douglas-Hamilton Ethos and Heritage Room at RAF Benson charts a colourful and varied history from 1939 to the present day.

Volunteer curator Michael Prendergast took Forces Radio BFBS Brize Norton's Jo Thoenes around six galleries dedicated to this story, that include collections from The King's Flight and the former Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, through to the modern face of the station and its place within Joint Helicopter Command.

And there is a personal connection for Michael taking on this project as he previously served at RAF Benson in a number of roles.

"I was actually on the Queen's Flight. You didn't always know what time you finished, but you knew when you went to work you were doing a really good job."

The facility is named after the four Douglas-Hamilton brothers who served within the Royal Air Force; all holding the rank of Squadron Leader or above on the outset of the Second World War.

A plaque dedicated to the youngest brother, Lord David Douglas-Hamilton who served at RAF Benson, tells the story of his flying career, and untimely death after his aircraft crashed on its approach to RAF Benson, following a mission to southern France in 1944.

Tomorrow morning you can learn more about RAF Benson’s Ethos and Heritage Facility...an Aladdin’s cave of incredible stories! Mike Prendergast had some unbelievable revelations when Jo visited his labour of love this week. We reckon you’ll be blown away... ✈️?Royal Air Force #raf100

Posted by BFBS Brize Norton on Tuesday, 17 July 2018

 

But some of the exhibits tell stories of more than just the Royal Air Force.

A former station chaplain, Marcus Morris went on to found the classic British comic The Eagle.

Sarah, Duchess of York earned her 'wings' at RAF Benson, and His Royal Highness Prince Charles' flying suit forms a part of the collection too.

RAF Benson, history
One of the original pieces on display at RAF Benson

"It was quite strange post war, a padre making The Eagle comic, but he made it, he's got Dan Dare... and you look into what he was doing..."

Michael regularly hears from people who have had family serve at RAF Benson, and are looking to complete the stories they know about their time there.

He is often able to give them a detailed account of their time at the station, and even show them key locations of where their relatives worked.

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