Churchill's Most Secret Airfield, RAF Tempford. By Bernard O'Connor. Stroud UK: Amberly Publishing, 2013. Maps. Photographs. Bibliography. Pp. 255. $24.95 Paperback. ISBN 978-1-4456-0690-3
Winston Churchill's well known dictum to "set Europe ablaze" depended to a large extent on insertion and recovery of agents and rescue of downed flight crew and escaping soldiers and airmen by aircraft; use of surface craft or crossing from neutral territories was even more risky. In this book, Bernard O'Connor continues his work documenting the story of the men and women of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the airmen who flew the missions.
O'Connor's major works have been on the social and economic impact of the phosphate industry in England and other countries, but he has made frequent forays into operations of the SOE into Europe from airfields in Bedford. In this book, he traces the development of the primary airfield and supporting annexes tasked with the mission to transport the high priority passengers into and out of denied enemy territory. He shows how the land for the field was obtained and how the field was designed and built in such way as to make it appear as if it was a little used, out-of-the-way outpost.
RAF Tempsford was located at one point of the triangle that Martin Bowman titled "the Bedford Triangle" in his 1988 book on U.S. undercover operations from England during World War II. From here, 138 and 161 Special Duties Squadrons flew nightly missions into Europe ranging from Northern France, The Netherlands, and Belgium to as far away as Poland and Czechoslovakia during the few days on either side of the full moon.
Churchill's Most Secret Airfield is divided into seven chapters with a comprehensive section on abbreviations right at the outset (where it belongs), the early history of the airfield, the...