This is an account of a Second World War airfield situated in the heart of the Bedfordshire countryside from where aircrews lifted secret agents and supplies up into the moonlit skies to begin their perilous journeys across Europe and behind enemy lines.
The book’s author, Bernard O’Conner, is an historian and a teacher. Through his extensive research he provides the reader with a reference book of qualified information, real life stories, photographs and an insight into the lives of some of those people who passed through the gates of “Gibraltar Farm”, RAF Tempsford.
O’Connor tells the war-time story of the requisitioned farm, it’s out buildings and the barn*. He introduces the stage magician Jasper Maskelyne who, with the skills of an illusionist, hid a secret airfield beneath a blanket of deception.
Under cover of a derelict farm Allied crews of 138 and 161 Squadrons prepared for their missions in the service of Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).
This book is packed with background information. The history of war; the formation and the work of 138 and 161 Squadrons; the topography and dangers surrounding RAF Tempsford; the aircrews and their aircraft. From The modified Lysander to the Halifax bomber, O’Conner tells how each in turn played their part in delivering and collecting agents and providing supplies into occupied Europe.
*To those who wish to tread that footpath, the right of way to the barn where SOE agents left RAF Tempsford is still open. If you take that walk, even on the sunniest of days, be prepared for the chill of a moonlit night.