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Metal detecting/digging UK WW2 airfields

Article about: Hi all, I live up in Northumberland and have quite a few abandoned/derelict WW2 airfields within 10 - 30 minutes driving time from my house, so after reading Steve T's "Searching Tips&q

  1. #1

    Default Metal detecting/digging UK WW2 airfields

    Hi all,
    I live up in Northumberland and have quite a few abandoned/derelict WW2 airfields within 10 - 30 minutes driving time from my house, so after reading Steve T's "Searching Tips" thread recently I decided to start researching a couple of sites that are nearest (RAF Morpeth/Tranwell and RAF Eshott) with the plan of going detecting on them. I know RAF Morpeth quite well (or thought I did) because as a kid I often used to knock about there with a friend of mine who lived nearby and much of the site is now covered by woodland.

    I got in touch with the RAF museum by emailing their Department of Research and Information Services in London and managed to get photocopies of wartime plans for both Airfields sent to me for a small fee - I was shocked to find that the base is VAST, it spreads far beyond what I thought was the boundaries, literally miles!

    The plans consist of a scaled map and also lists the original use of each building on the map with the use of a key, which now is mostly just mounds of rubble.

    The problem is - I just don't know where to start, do I just get stuck in and hope for the best using what I think is a good spot on Google earth or would anyone recommend a starting point, for example near barracks, store, mess etc...?

    I know there is no general rule but if I can find the site dump (which is unfortunately not listed on the plan) It would probably bring up loads of goodies.

    I would appreciate any advice or pointers from anyone who has any past experience with digging bases in the UK, or anywhere else for that matter,

    Thanks in advance,
    Chris.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Metal detecting/digging UK WW2 airfields

    I cant help you Chris but wish I was there! Our family came out to Australia in the 1920's from Northumberland. We lived at Ashington and Northgate ( just north of Morpeth ) One relative was blown up at Loos in France in the first war and is on a memorial in Morpeth ( or at Bothal Castle, I cant recall ) and wish as I might, I have never been back to the north.
    All the best in your quest!
    Cheers, Dan
    " When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "

  3. #3

    Default Re: Metal detecting/digging UK WW2 airfields

    Hi Dan,
    It's quite a coincidence - I lived a mile north of Northgate in a small village called Hebron until I was 17, then moved to Pegswood, which is near enough a mile from Ashington! Now our families are on the other side of the earth! The military bases here are literally untouched (and heavily overgrown) but perfect for some detecting/digging.
    Thanks for getting in touch - it is a small world!
    Chris

  4. #4

    Default Re: Metal detecting/digging UK WW2 airfields

    I don't know about the second war in the north ( as we had emigrated ) but my grandfather used to tell me about the zeppelin raids on Whitley bay and Newbiggen-by-the-sea during WW1. Also the RAF had a base at Choppington or Cramlington ( I think ) and used to patrol the coast from there.

    Dan
    " When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "

  5. #5

    Default Re: Metal detecting/digging UK WW2 airfields

    Yes that would be RFC/RAF Cramlington - unfortunately it has been lost due to opencast digging in the last year:
    http://www.key.aero/view_news.asp?id=3800
    I never got a chance to look round there before it was lost forever.

    I walk past the cenotaph in Morpeth about twice a week, if you are interested, and let me know your relatives name I will stop and take a look.

    Cheers, Chris.

  6. #6

    Lightbulb Re: Metal detecting/digging UK WW2 airfields

    A good area to start trying is around the Technical Site, paying attention to any surrounding woodland and especially ditches into which scrap 'bits' were often dumped. Be prepared to get very messy......the airfields you mention were not 'front line' bases so there probably won't be much to be found around the sites of old runways or dispersals.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Metal detecting/digging UK WW2 airfields

    Hi there, try the rear vicinity of the cookhouse/mess. Firing buts if any. And see if any local knowledge as to camp activities.

    Now, on to more important stuff, and you danmark. My father's side of the family are from newcastle. Although great grandfather went to oz and grand father was born in straftfield, sydney. Lost their money and returned to newcastle. My father had a spell at RAF morpeth in the 1950's. Doing family tree and one relly was a wheelright in morpeth, mid 1800's.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Metal detecting/digging UK WW2 airfields

    Thanks for the tips, both sites have firing butts and I know the one at RAF Tranwell is still standing (although a little overgrown). Just have to wait for this horrendous weather to sort itself out now - Will do an update when I have next visited.

    Chris

  9. #9

    Default Re: Metal detecting/digging UK WW2 airfields

    I would start by reading through the following thread......

    http://www.warrelics.eu/forum/search...ing-tips-7358/

    ....and work from there.

    Experience has shown that, if you want old ordnance, search around the butts and aircraft bays but be careful as there is normally a lot of live stuff lying just beneath the surface. If you want more personal items, search around the old barrack buildings.

    BUT......read the above thread first as I have put my years of experience in that thread. Biggest tip I can give you is to find a wooded area that was also wooded during the 1940s. These areas are normally goldmines of relics.

    Good luck and don't forget to get landowners permission.

    Steve T

    PS Not meaning to be deliberately contradictory (sorry martin ), but even OTU sites are jammed with relics. I have searched two 'not frontline' airfields and found just as many relics as on frontline ones.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Metal detecting/digging UK WW2 airfields

    Hi Chris, my grandfathers uncles name was John Robinson. Not sure what unit he was with but along with many others was vaporized when a munitions dump ( or train ) was hit - ( that is, a body was never recovered ) Someone said there is a memorial in the grounds of Bothal Castle???? Not sure where he is mentioned but a look see would be appreciated!
    Cheers, Dan
    " When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "

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