Unit History: RAF Jever

RAF Jever

The history of Jever as an airfield falls into three distinct periods; from the mid-twenties until 1935 as the property of a civilian flying club; from 1935 until 1945 as an operational Luftwaffe base and from 1951 until the present day as an R.A.F. Fighter Station as part of the N.A.T.O. defence.
During the 1920’s the employees of the Focke WulfAircraft Co., of Bremen decided to form a sports flying club, starting with a nucleus of World War I pilots. By 1926 they had built up a thriving club with seven light aeroplanes located on a small aerodrome at the edge of Upjever forest. However, within ten years this field was commandeered for more aggressive purposes and the Luftwaffe transformed it into a fighter base.
1935 to 1945
Work began early in 1935 clearing the forest and proceeded rapidly. The Station Headquarters was the first building to be completed and then the Hangars, Fire Station, M.T. Buildings, Sick Quarters and underground Petrol Installations followed in quick succession. Within the space of one year the Station was ready for its official opening which took place on 1st May 1936, when General Milch handed over to the first commandant, Hauptmann Malrich.
The first operational unit, a fighter Gruppe of three Staffeln, occupied Jever in June, 1937. Even at the time of the Munich Crisis in 1938 there was still only one fighter Gruppe here equipped with Me.109B’s.
In August 1937 the unit had only fifteen fighters instead of its establishment of thirty-nine and of those only five were serviceable.
At the beginning of September 1939, Jever was once more in the operational picture with the formation of the first Gruppe top be equipped with Me.109’s and Me.110’s, which in September 1939, were responsible for causing heavy casualties to a force of 22 Wellington aircraft carrying out a raid on naval vessels in the Schillig Roads and Wilhelmshaven.
From the beginning of 1940 to July, 1941 there were no tactical units at Jever. In July 1941 Jever became the Headquarters of the 2nd Fighter Division and the Fighter Command of the German Bight, with one squadron of Me.109’s and another two squadrons on the islands of Wangerooge
and Borkum.
In 1942 the Headquarters of the 2nd Fighter Division moved to Stade near Hamburg, leaving Jever with a Fighter Gruppe of Me.109’s. This Gruppe took part in the attacks against the first American Bomber Forces to raid Germany in daylight.
A formation of Ju.52’s, for duties in mine searching were added to the forces at Jever in 1945. Towards the end of the war the fighter formations left the aerodrome and were replaced by No.4Night Fighter Wing equipped with Ju.188’s.
Shortly before the surrender, all aircraft were flown to Leck, Schleswig-Holstein, to be destroyed; consequently when the Polish troops entered the station on 8th May 1945, there were no aircraft left on the airfield.
1945 to 1960
The Luftwaffe did not develop Jever airfield to any extent. After its occupation by the 7th Armoured Division in 1945 it was listed as an auxiliary landing ground with no concrete runways, no radio facilities, and no lighting. Its grass runway was 1,300 yards long, the total size of the field being 1,800 yards from east to west and 1,000 yards from north to south. In 1947 it was removed from the list of auxiliary landing grounds.
Between 1945 and 1951 the station was occupied successively by Polish and Canadian Army Units, the 11th Hussars, the Danish Army and by Jewish displaced persons. In 1951 the Royal Air Force decided to develop Jever as a jet fighter base and so began what is perhaps the most important period of its history as an operational station.
During 1951 a concrete runway, 6,000 ft by 150 ft was constructed, radio facilities, lighting and underground fuel storage tanks were added, accommodation was improved with the object of making Jever an important contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Defence Scheme. Development of the airfield has continued since 1955, when it was nominated a N.A.T.O. main Fighter Base.
In March, 1951 No. 5352 Wing Detachment and a small nucleus of administrative officers arrived to start the work necessary to expand the station. On 11th February, 1952, the first British jet, a Vampire, touched down at Jever. In early March the first three squadrons arrived, Nos. 4, 93 and 112, all equipped with Vampires and Meteor trainers, which served them faithfully until superseded by Sabre IV’s in May, 1953. July of that year saw the departure of 112 Squadron from Jever to Bruggen, leaving only 4 and
93 until April, 1955, when No. 98 and No. 118 Hunter Squadrons moved in from Fassberg. In June 1955, No. 2 (F.R.) Squadron, equipped with Swifts moved in from Geilenkirchen.

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