RAF Tempsford airfield

AddressRAF Tempsford Airfield, Sandy, Central Bedfordshire SG19 2JR, UK
Location typeAirfield
Site Ownership and Access Information?The area of the former airfield is private property, but can be viewed to some extent from a public footpath nearby. There is a memorial chapel in St. Peter’s Church, in Tempsford village, which can be viewed by the public.
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From 1942 onwards, Allied secret agents left from RAF Tempsford for occupied Europe, where they conducted operations to help the resistance movements in those countries. Much of this work related in one way or another to D-Day and the subsequent Allied campaign in north west Europe.

The RAF units who carried out this work were the Special Duties Squadrons, of which two of the best known were 138 and 161 Squadrons. The former dropped personnel from Special Operations Executive (SOE) – with related supplies and equipment – into occupied territory by parachute. The role of the latter was to land in enemy territory and deliver (or collect) Allied agents. These agents (both male and female) helped to establish networks of secret agents, and enabled vital information about
German defences and forces to reach Allied intelligence services. Many agents died in this hazardous role, and in some cases they were murdered by the Nazis after capture.

Shortly after D-Day, British, French and Belgian soldiers from the Special Air Service (SAS) also began to be landed in France from Tempsford, as well as from other airfields such as RAF Fairford. These troops landed in parts of France well away from Normandy. Their role was to harass the Germans, drawing enemy forces away from Normandy and delaying the movement of German reinforcements to that region. These were very dangerous missions, with a high casualty rate amongst the SAS.

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