History of Royal Air Force Jever by kind permission of
Squadron Leader Tony Fairbairn from his Book
"Action Stations Overseas"
Published by Sutton Publishing Limited of the Haynes Publishing Group
Arriving in March 1951, Jever's first RAF inhabitants (apart from 664 Sqn's Austers which were based here during 1-12 September 1945) were a detachment of 5352 Airfield Construction Wing, led by Squadron Leader F. Herbert, their task being to convert what had been an operational wartime Luftwaffe airfield into a modern RAF station suitable for three Vampire squadrons. In the interim the base had been used as a displaced persons camp; looking into its wartime history, the 5352 Wing personnel gained the impression that it had been a favourite with Hermann Goering. Certainly the Officers' Mess, with its distinctive design, wood carvings, two large oil paintings and small private rooms with stained glass windows seemed to confirm this impression.
Sufficient renovation work had been completed for the Station to begin life as a self-accounting unit under the control of HQ 2nd TAF on 1 September 1951. The C-in-C and his staff visited the new Station on 20 November, and their aircraft was the first to land here, although the airfield itself did not officially open until 4 December. Even then, the lack of facilities meant that aircraft could not night-stop, and it was not until 11 February 1952, when the first Vampire flown by Squadron Leader P. G. K. Williamson, OC 4 Sqn, landed that the Station really started to get into gear.
No 4 Sqn was one of the three Vampire FB5 units to assemble here in March 1952 and form the Jever Wing, the other two being 93 and 112 Sqns. Meteors were used for training, and the squadrons took turns to provide aircraft for the Battle Flight, which was on permanent standby. Low-and high-level navigation exercises were flown, together with practice low-level interceptions, and cannon and rocket firing on the Fassberg range. Also during March, HQ 4 Wing, RAF Regiment and its constituent squadrons began arriving.
In addition to routine training, the Vampire squadrons took part in a wide range of other activities, and in April 1952 aircraft from 4 and 93 Sqns took part in a 2nd TAF flypast for General Eisenhower. May saw the start of regular visits to the Armament Practice School at Sylt for live firing at targets towed by Tempests, while in June the first of many future exercises embraced attacks on the airfield by `enemy' F-84s, and practice interceptions on USAF B-36s and B-50s. The system of unit exchanges was initiated with 112 Sqn temporarily swapping bases with the Dutch Air Force Meteors of 326 Sqn at Twenthe, and a general round of detachments was mounted as far afield as Odiham and Duxford in the UK. There was also a considerable emphasis on display flying during this period, with 93 Sqn's aerobatic team making a modest start to an entertaining career by coming third in a Command competition held at Gutersloh, while in July 1952 the Wing as a whole participated in the first NATO air display, held at Melsbroek in Belgium. Jever briefly gained a fourth squadron during the summer, but after reforming here on Vampire FB9s in June, 20 Sqn began moving out to Oldenburg the following month.
The mobility concept, under which the flying squadrons packed up their essential support equipment and operated under canvas from deployment locations, was given its first airing in August 1952, and the following month Jever's Vampires deployed to RAF Buckeburg, with personnel camped in woods adjacent to the aircraft, for an exercise in which their role was ground attack and interception in support of the Army.
This remained the pattern of activity until March 1954, when 4 and 93 Sqns began re-equipping with the eagerly-awaited Sabre, the Vampires being disposed of to Wunstorf. While Jever's runway was being reinforced in preparation for the new fighter, the squadrons were sent to Alhorn and it was there that 93 Sqn received its first Sabre, XB856, on 25 March. On return to Jever normal operations resumed with a permanent Battle Flight being mounted and regular APCs at Sylt.
Pilots of 93 Sqn pose for a squadron photograph in front of Sabre F4 XB829 'D' at Jever. (Thanks to Des Browne and Duncan Curtis)
(Click to see a copy with the names.)
A popular aircraft, the Sabre was intended to meet the requirement for an interceptor only until Hawker Hunters became available, and the first of these appeared at Jever in the markings of 98 Sqn, which moved over from Fassberg in April 1955, leaving behind its de Havilland Venoms. A second ex-Venom unit from Fassberg, 118 Sqn, followed suit in May, also re-equipping with Hunters in the process, and pronouncing the Hawker fighter pleasant and easy to fly. As far as Jever's longer serving squadrons were concerned, No 4 took delivery of Hunters in July 1955, but it would be January 1956 before 93 Sqn did so. It was the Hunter F4 which now equipped Jever's squadrons, and in comparative tests with visiting Canadair Sabre 6s (not the version flown by the RAF) the performance of both aircraft in terms of high-speed runs, climb and turns, was found to be almost identical. An interesting feature of Hunter servicing at Jever in 1956 was that all 93 Sqn's pilots were qualified to carry out limited flight-line maintenance and kept themselves in practice by `turning round' their aircraft during the regular ground crews' lunch-break. [See reference in 93 Sqn F540 Monthly Operational Record for March 1956].
The early months of 1957 saw 4 and 93 Sqns re-equipping with the definitive Mk 6 version of the Hunter and formally assuming the day fighter/ground attack role. The latter Squadron was again selected as the 2nd TAF acrobatic team, while 118 Sqn's Flight Lieutenant K. J. Goodwin was chosen as the Command's solo display pilot. Nos 98 and 118 Sqn disbanded in July and August respectively, but this at least made room for the visit in September of 50 USAF C-119s and 1,500 US Army paratroops for an exercise drop.
A newcomer to the Station in January 1958 was 2 Sqn from Geilenkirchen with Supermarine Swift FR5s in the tactical reconnaissance role. In July, 2 Sqn sent two aircraft to Karup in Denmark in exchange for two RF-84Fs, and then joined Jever's Hunters in a Practice Alert called by HQ 2nd TAF, the Swifts flying fighter recce sorties on pre-planned targets while the Hunters flew defensive mission sweeps. The following month No 2 competed with the other Germany-based Swift unit, 79 Sqn, for a place in the 2nd TAF team for the annual NATO reconnaissance competition Exercise Royal Flush, going on to take the team prize in 1959.
Nos 4 and 93 Sqn, still on Hunters, both disbanded in December 1960, the former transferring its numberplate to 79 Sqn at Gutersloh. In February 1961 2 Sqn began replacing its Swifts with Hunter FR10s, to be joined the following month by 4 Sqn, now also flying Hunter FR1Os, which returned from Gutersloh. Between March and September No 14 Sqn Hunter F6s were based here, carrying out fighter sweeps and practice interceptions, while the runways at the Squadron's regular base of Gutersloh were repaired.
By the middle of 1961, however, preparations were well in hand for the move of all flying squadrons to Gutersloh, for Jever was destined to be handed back to the Germans. The transfer took place in September, and included the Station Flight's `Cloth Bomber' - Anson TX160, the airfield closing on the eighth of the month. RAF personnel remained behind to hand over facilities to the German Air Force, but finally left on 10 January 1962.
A German Perspective as recorded in the book by Jurgen Zapf "Fliegerhorst Upjever Luftwaffenstandort in Friesland 1936-2004"
Vacant buildings on the airfield were used to accommodate the soldiers left in Jever and in the area after the war, also refugees and evacuees this time from the British occupation.
In April/May 1950 parts of the base were taken over by the 205 Relief Detachment of Oldenburg and Disarmament Group Oldenburg, to set up a camp for surviving Jews who were recovered from Borgen-Belsen concentration camp. The official name for the people who were housed in the camp was displaced persons - DP's
, in the official papers it talks only of DP camps; however, it is felt extremely unlikely that only Jews lived at the air base.
The camp was set up from 1st to 15th July, 1950; by mid-July, 1,600 people lived in this almost solely Jewish camp in the British zone. Despite the fast emigration of all those who wanted to return to Israel, by 31Jan1951 there were still 800 in the camp and by the 27Mar1951 still 400 Jews were left in the makeshift apartments on the airfield.
In July 1951, the Jews who could not emigrate, or did not want to, were then moved to a camp near Sengwarden - the Royal Air Force took over the airfield Upjever.
Up until this time the German authorities had been wondering how they could use the giant complex of buildings, streets and grassland after the departure of the emigrants. The public authorities firmly wanted to turn the officers' mess and the adjacent free hostel into a County girls' school. Further consideration was also given as to whether this vast airfield of uneconomical land, the large halls and sheds could be exploited for industrial use.
The decision on the future of the seemingly disused air force site was soon removed from the German authorities: mid 1951 the Royal Air force took over the almost demilitarized area and began to expand it into a modern fighter base.
In 1952 Frank C. Price was a pilot on 93 Squadron
at RAF Jever. During a visit to Jever he noted that there was almost no information about the period when it was in use by the Royal Air force. In order to close this gap, on 22 April 1986 he compiled a short historical outline of this period based on the few existing documents and data in England. This "Operational History of the Royal Air Force Jever - West Germany 1952-1961" is reproduced here translated into German.
In 1952 Frank C. Price
was a pilot on 93 Squadron
at RAF Jever [Web Master's note: F540 says he arrived on the Sqn 23Sep53
.]. During a visit to Jever he noted that there was almost no information about the period when it was in use by the Royal Air force. In order to close this gap, on 22 April 1986 he compiled a short historical outline of this period based on the few existing documents and data in England. This "Operational History of the Royal Air Force Jever - West Germany 1952-1961" is reproduced here translated into German.
It emerges from the few existing documents, that RAF Jever was used from 7Mar52 as an operational air base. On that day two flying squadrons were moved to Jever, 4 Squadron
(previously RAF Wunstorf) and 112 Squadron
(previously RAF Fassberg); the aircraft they flew was the DH Vampire FB5
with their main task, to disrupt any Russian attacks.
Four months later, on July 1, 1952, 93 Squadron
(previously RAF Celle) was also moved to Jever with their Vampire FB5s
in order to strengthen the unit. On the same day 20 Squadron was reformed at Jever, before taking on the operational flights on July 28, 1952 from Oldenburg, Germany.
On July 7, 1953, 112 Squadron
was moved to Bruggen, which was left 4
and 93 Squadrons
at Jever as part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force. Both squadrons converted to the North American Sabre F4
; the use of this "second-hand" American fighter was for only a short duration. The conversion was followed in 1956 on to the Hawker Hunter F4
. 93 Squadron
became famous during this time having formed a four pilot aerobatic team, which represented the 2nd T.A.F. at many airshows. In 1958 both squadrons were re-equipped with the Hunter F6
In March 1955, 98
and 118 Squadrons
, both re-equipped with Hunter F4s
and were moved to Jever from Faßberg. In July 1957, 98 squadron
, moved back to RAF Driffield in England and 118 Squadron
In October 1957, 2 Squadron
from RAF Geilenkirchen arrived at Jever. The squadron
flew their Swift FR5s
from Jever until March 1961, when they converted to the Hunter FR10
and later moved to Gütersloh.
and 93 Squadrons
were disbanded at Jever on December 31, 1960. 79 Squadron was renamed as 4 Squadron
from January 1, 1961 and remained at Gütersloh in Germany.
The main role of the squadrons at Jever from 1952 until 1961 was fighter interception, air/ground attack and reconnaissance. In addition, they supported various tactics making up part of the Western Defences.
The airfield of Jever was manned entirely by the Royal Air Force, and had an RAF Regiment for defence and any other ground support. It was commanded by an officer with the rank of Group Captain.
The year 1961 saw the withdrawal of the "British Armed Forces Overseas" (including the Royal Air Force in 2nd TAF
) in favour of the Allied forces in West Germany. This also resulted in the withdrawal of the Royal Air Force from the airfield at Jever.
Again, a list of squadrons of the RAF based at Jever in chronological order:
7Mar52 - 31Dec60 4 Sqn
; Motto: In Futurem Videre.
7Mar52 - 5Jul53 112 Sqn
; Motto: Swift in Destruction.
1Jul52 - 31Dec60 93 Sqn
; Motto: Ad Arma Parati.
1Jul52 - 28Jul52 20 Sqn; Motto: Facta non Verba.
19Mar55 - 15Jul57 98 Sqn
; Motto: Never Failing.
7May55 - 31Jul57 118 Sqn
; Motto: Occido Redeque.
15Jan58 - 9Sep61 2 Sqn
; Motto: Hereward.
Members of the British armed forces concluded friendship with the citizens of the town of Jever over the years. Under Group Captain Hughes
, who was the RAF Command er from December 1955 to October 1958, formed a "German-English Society" in his time, which through numerous joint events cemented this friendship. The photos on the following pages give testimony.