‘Tangmere and the SOE’ Exhibition Opens

July, 2018

On Saturday 21 July, nearly 70 guests including a dozen children arrived at the Museum for the formal opening of the ‘Tangmere and the SOE’ exhibition. Amongst the guests were two former SOE operatives, Fred Bailey Légion d’honneur, Croix de Guerre was a radio operator with one of the Jedburgh teams in 1944 who later had to be plucked out of the jungle in Burma by a Special Duties Lysander and Stanley David Légion d’honneur, an SOE dispatcher. Many of the other guests were family relatives of the pilots who flew clandestine No 161 Squadron Lysander missions from RAF Tangmere.

Following a speech to officially open the exhibition by James Vaughan-Fowler, Chris McCairns, son of Jimmy ‘Mac’ McCairns, a famous pick-up pilot, was asked to unveil the ‘Popeye’ nose art recently painted on the Museum’s newly acquired full size Lysander replica aircraft. Following the unveiling, the opportunity was taken to recreate the famous photograph taken in 1943 of ‘Mac’ McCairns, Hugh Verity, ‘Pick’ Pickard, Peter Vaughan-Fowler and ‘Bunny’ Rymills standing in front of a Special Duties Lysander at RAF Tangmere. To recreate the original photograph, a member from each of the five families was invited to pose in front of the Museum’s Lysander.

The day concluded with the opening of an exhibition dedicated to Wing Commander Leonard Ratcliff, a famous Special Duties pilot who eventually became Station Commander of RAF Tempsford. Both Rupert and Robin, his sons, made speeches about their father and also presented to the Museum their father’s Irvine jacket he wore when flying special duties missions.

The ‘Tangmere and the SOE’ exhibition is open every day (except 26 August, the Museum’s Family Day) from 11 am until 4 pm. Entry price is included in the Museum’s entry fee.

Talks by Tangmere

The Museum is able to offer speakers to interested groups or societies on a range of subjects connected with the history of operations at RAF Tangmere and other military aviation subjects.

Further details of the full range of presentations and the availability of speakers can be obtained by calling the museum on 01243 790090, by emailing your interest to or by letter marked for the attention of the Director.

Museum Development

The Museum car park has been enlarged and re-laid and audio guides provided with the assistance of LEADER – the European Agricultural Fund for Redevelopment.