This section provides you with information, News and upcoming events relating to Wattisham Station Heritage Museum
The 3rd of May 2015 was a very special day for Wattisham Station Heritage, for it marked the start of filming for the broadcast quality documentary being produced and filmed by Viewpoint Productions entitled "Wattisham From Both Sides Of The Fence"The day was taken up by filming two interviews, one was with Peter Botwright who piloted the very first jet aircraft to be stationed at Wattisham in 1952, during his time at Wattisham Peter flew mainly the Gloster Meteor and the Gloster Javelin aircraft.Peter was met at the museum by Maggie Aggiss the museums curator who gave Peter a guided tour of the museum and listened to the fascinating stories which Peter recalled from his memories during his time stationed at Wattisham such as the Coronation Flypast.The main interview was carried out in the Officers Mess where Maggie asked the questions.The day concluded with the second interview with Fred Pratt of Brickhouse Farm Naughton who shared his thoughts and experiences with regards to the arrival of the Americans in 1943. He told how the family were forced to hand over land for the construction of the Air Depot for servicing aircraft and also a hospital.Click on the pictures to enlarge
Click on the pictures to enlarge
We are delighted to be able to display some original Second World War posters kindly donated to the museum by a local gentleman.
We have set a side a room to display the posters, many of which are local War Bond posters. Also as 2015 sees the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe and Victory in Japan, we have included a display to commemorate the celebrations.
Our members here at Wattisham Station Heritage have been working hard during the winter months to get the museum and its exhibits ready for our visitors during the 2015 season.
Final preparations are well in hand and we look forward to welcoming you all from the 1st of March when we officially open our doors.
As the poster on the left say "Lets Go Forward Together" for a great visitor season.
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Today two of our committee members Maggie Aggiss and Keith Rimmer were invited by Lesley Dolphin of Radio Suffolk to talk about the Wattisham Station Heritage museum and its plans to make an educational and historic documentary covering all aspects of life on and around Wattisham Airfield since its construction up until the present day.
On the 4th of January 2015 Wattisham Station Heritage held a memorial service at St Catherine's Church at Ringshall for Flying Officer Derek Law who died in such tragic circumstances, this accident came to lite while one of our committee members was doing research for the Wattisham documentary which we are making, we traced some of his fellow friends and pilots and as a result of this we held a memorial service to pay our respects to Derek.
Below is the story of this tragedy.
Early on the 5th January 1966 this young pilot climbed into the cockpit of his English Electric Lightning belonging to 56 Squadron based here at RAF Wattisham. Previous to this Flying Officer Law had served at RAF Khormaksar, with 43 Squadron in Aden, flying the Hunter.
Originally from South Africa, he had taken part in the 16 aircraft flypast in honour of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral over London in 1965 and was proving to be a very talented and natural young pilot.
That morning Flying Officer Law had been briefed to fly a training mission out over the North Sea, but after take off and climb out of Wattisham he discovered that his radar had failed. Knowing he could no longer carry out his mission he elected to carry out some continuation training with an instrument only approach into RAF Bentwaters only 25 miles away from Wattisham.
On the approach into Bentwaters one engine failed causing him to abort and head for the safety of home at Wattisham. On flying over the Suffolk countryside his second engine failed causing him no choice but to eject from the stricken aircraft. He pulled the ejection handle but found that the canopy would not release trapping him inside the aircraft and he was forced to perform an emergency landing into a ploughed field, with no power and landing gear up. This he performed magnificently and brought the aircraft to an almost dead stop infront of a small cottage just yards from over head electrical cables. At this point Flying Officer Law was still alive.
The aircrafts wing had struck an oak tree and this caused the canopy to release causing the ejection seat to fire and propelling Flying Officer Law into the outer branches of the tree and onto the tarmac road beneath. Here he died at the scene. He had suffered only a few minor head injuries and a broken wrist on the impact to the ground while still in the aircraft but it was concluded in the inquest that if he had ejected into open land that he may of survived the crash.
The cause of the canopy and seat malfunction was due to the pins which held it in place did not fire correctly. The engines had failed due to part of the radome (on the front of the aircraft) falling into the engines air intake.
The crash site is between the villages of Helmingham and Otley in Suffolk and the oak tree is standing, still with the scar of where the aircraft’s wing hit over 45 years ago.
Flying Officer Derek Rollo Law was just 24 years old at his death and is buried in Ringshall Church, just a mile from the end of the runway at Wattisham Airfield.
As a fitting memorial to Flying Officer Law, his name now appears on the nose and cockpit section of our Lightning, thanks to the permission of Ken Hayward, as Flying Officer Law actually flew the aircraft while serving with 56 squadron at RAF Wattisham.