Pubs used by WW2 Aircrew

Discussion in 'General' started by 77sclash, Jan 9, 2020.

  1. 77sclash

    77sclash New Member

    I know there have been a couple of topics over the years that addressed this, but I spent the last year consolidating a lot of research and built an interactive map that documents the pubs used by the RAF and the USAAF during WW2. It groups them into pubs that are still active and those that have closed. I think it is fairly comprehensive, though I have about 20 more to add in the coming weeks. I thought it might be interesting to people here.

    If there are any I missed please let me know. Also, I am really looking for stories about the social and pub life of aircrew personnel. If you have any you would like to share, please pass them on.

    Website is here:
    Guy Hudson, dbf and CL1 like this.
  2. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

    A couple of comments. I think it rather unlikely that Duxford aircrew would have traveled as far as Steeple Bumpstead and suggest that Ridgewell or another nearby airfield would be more likely. Second point may be a little semantic, but the Bird in Hand at Earls Colne was not "built in line with the runway", the runway alignment happened to take it very close (but not overhead) the existing pub. I can confirm the concrete flat roof, which is still in situ and made the upstairs feel like a fridge in the winter. My uncle ran the place in the 70s and 80s.
    Chris C, dbf, Guy Hudson and 2 others like this.
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    I am interested in the Shepherds Tavern. This was the unofficial fighter command pub. Geoffrey Page's book "Shot down in flames" mentions it. Neville and Gwen Duke confirmed this at a function on the 60th Battle of Britain Sunday. I was told and had some correspondence (which I cannot find) that the ceiling of this pub had the autographs of pilots who were posted overseas. This was painted over in the 1970s. Can you find any corroborating evidence?
  4. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member


    I wondered about RAF Ludford Magna?

    When I clicked on it it showed a photo of a crashed Lancaster but then said "Further reading" and listed a James Holland book about the Battle of Britain. Ludford opened in June of 1943 so wondering the connection?

    There were two pubs in Ludford Magna where aircrew went, both on the Magna Mile. One is the White Hart Inn (still in business) and the other, Black Horse Inn which closed shop about a decade ago.


    Harry Ree likes this.
  5. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

  6. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Well-Known Member

    In 2018 I visited The Fox & Hounds LH @ Main Road, Ardley, Oxfordshire, OX27 7PE; which is on the eastern end of former RAF Upper Heyford airfield's runway and in an outbuilding is a former USAF social club, with a few formation badges on display. The LH's website is empty alas: The Fox & Hounds, Ardley and the then new licensee was fully aware of the historical links to the RAF and post-WW2 the USAF.

    Wiki lists the RAF WW2 users: RAF Upper Heyford - Wikipedia
  7. Little Friend

    Little Friend Senior Member

    White Hart 1.jpg White Hart 2.jpg White Hart 3.jpg I'm sure that I posted-up these before ? The White Hart in Ludford Magna, Lincs. I took these in June 2010.
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  8. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    You did, LF. I used the link to the photos you posted in my post.

    Wartime Pubs.


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  9. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I think that the Saracen's Head photograph in Lincoln is a very old photograph going back to the days of coach and horses.I do not think the the RAF lads during WW2 would recognise it.....have seen a modern photograph as it was in WW2,,,will attempt to find it.The place was first developed as a Woolworth store as I remember after the Saracen's Head was replaced.

    Postwar, RAF lads used to congregate at the Unity Hotel,Unity Square at the bottom of Lindum Hill...Saturday nights when on weekend flying..... happy hours spent there before climbing aboard a liberty lorry back to camp.Spoke to the wife of a chiefy AG on our squadron....41 ops during WW2, at a get together and she remembered being hauled up over the tailgate of the liberty truck as the vehicle climbed slowly up Lindum Hill...the liberty truck left from the Lincoln Railway station at 2400,the MT driver always left on time and a pick up for latecomers was only available on the steep Lindum hill as the truck made its way up slowly the hill.

    Scampton village did not have a pub at the time so RAF lads would spend their time in Lincoln.Up on the ridge where the PAF were based at RAF Ingham was The Windmill pub on the edge of the airfield on one of the longest "modern" streets in GB...Middle Street between Lincoln and Scunthorpe......used to be a splendid photograph of a PAF Wellington on displayed at the pub.

    Down in Gainsborough,the RAF lads from Hemswell used the Tiger Inn in Lord Street as a drinking hole.One Sergeant as I know, had his stag night at the place,already had been warded the DFM and 6 weeks later his wife was a widow.

    The Black Bull at Welton must have seen some of the Scampton lads there....the pub was the nearest to RAF Dunholme Lodge so I would think that it would have been patronised by those from Dunholme Lodge.At Hemswell we used the place for a squadron party on one served from the jug as I remember.
    alieneyes likes this.
  10. 77sclash

    77sclash New Member

    I have not specifically heard of autographs on the ceiling of the Shepherd's Market, and if you have correspondence documenting that, it would be fantastic. It was certainly used extensively by fighter command. It shows up in many memoirs, and it seems it was a common starting point for fighter pilot on a 48 hour pass, which might also have included dinner at the Queens Brasserie and then a late finish at a West End night club. The practice of signing the ceilings was also widespread. The Eagle of course is the most famous, but there are accounts of it being done in other places. I think most were painted over. Even the Eagle was painted over and apparently" rediscovered by ex-RAF officer and poet James Cheney when he noticed writing under the paint when looking up after taking a drink. I've also read accounts of WAAFs holding each other up and putting sooty footprints in the ceiling.
  11. 77sclash

    77sclash New Member

    Thanks Harry. The photo of the Saracen's Head is on the old side! The photos are a challenge, especially for closed pubs, because most of what I want to use is under copyright. If you have any you'd be willing to contribute, I'd greatly appreciate it.

    Thanks also for the wealth of information. I'll add those pubs to the hopper, and get them in the next update. I am so grateful of the wealth of knowledge here. Anytime a topic goes up, so much new stuff comes forward. Thank you very much!
  12. 77sclash

    77sclash New Member

    Thanks Dave,
    I think all the airfields default to Holland's book. Not shilling for Holland so much as pure coding laziness on my part! I'll go through those.
  13. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Well done for your time and effort though makes another interesting link to WW2
    alieneyes likes this.

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