Sunday, 9 August 2009

RAF Melksham



Essentially this is a hypothetical blog in-so-far as Harold South's recollection of events are concerned, with regards to his confiscated camera, which was allegedly returned to him in a parcel, post marked "Melksham, Wiltshire" three weeks after his encounter along the New Penkridge Road back in 1964.

As South points out there are a few RAF Bases within this area in addition to RAF Melksham, the most immediate and noticeable (as far as Ufology is concerned) being RAF Rudloe Manor, along side RAF Lyneham there is also another complex of particular interest, Hawthorn is the location of a number of defence related underground facilities in the vicinity of Corsham, established during the Second World War and later used as the Central Government War Headquarters throughout the Cold War. A further part of this complex was developed as an aircraft engine factory, to act as a fallback should the then Bristol Engine Factory at Filton be destroyed by bombing. The engine factory was never used officially.

Naturally I first looked at RAF Melksham with the view, why would the confiscated film have been sent here? A first look at the History of RAF Melksham revealed it to primarily be the Number 12 School of Technical Training (24 Jun 1940 – 26 Feb 1965) resuming the major role after the Second World War of training Aircraft Fitters in the field of Electrical and Instrumentation, although there were a number of other specialised training courses covering engine trades and motor transport these were also held at Melksham and were conducted over shorter time periods.

In addition Melksham was a exceptionally large base, which at its height accommodated over ten thousand personnel, housing No 10 School of Recruit Training, which averaged 100 a week of mainly National servicemen until its final intake arrived in June 1953.

There are however two points of interest with regards RAF Melksham, the first being although it was never an operational flying base because it had no runway. The aircraft (which were on display during open days) were used for training purposes for ground crew and technicians and were transported to and from the base in dismantled form.

Secondly there appears to be some confusion over the actual date of closure, most official sources place the year as 1965. Yet the official commemorative stone (see photo above) and the unofficial website with the Squadron emblem place the closure date as 1964.

Which if true could well mean the base was virtually closed at the time of the Penkridge Incident (assuming the date and month are correct; 26 February) this at first glance might appear to rule out RAF Melksham as playing any role in the events at Penkridge.

For a moment though lets consider the possibility that RAF Melksham didn't play any active role in handling the confiscated Film or Camera and these items were more than likely processed and analysed at RAF Rudloe's Photographic Laboratories along with the camera to see if there was any specialised equipment being used by South, purely as a security measure, conjecture of course.

But what if, RAF Melksham instead played host to a downed object retrieved from a field alongside the Penkridge New Road? Clearly if Melksham was in the process of closure with no further intake of RAF personnel, is it feasible that a small contingent of Senior Officer's, NCO's, Qualified instructors; specialist's in Engine's, Airframe's, electrics and instrumentation be assembled and dispatched to oversee the retrieval and transportation of an unidentified object?

Furthermore the transportation of aircraft was a common enough occurrence and would not have attracted undue attention, providing the ideal opportunity to house securely the object in one of RAF Melksham's vacated hangers, whilst pending transportation to its final destination, possibly via RAF Lyneham and out of the country as part of a co-ordinated NATO exercise.

Its a hypothetical scenario, but not beyond the realms of possibility.