The toe and heel piece of a boot, found during the 2019 Kenley Revival Community Dig  (c) MOLA

A boot thrown from a plane? Unusual find at Kenley Revival Project community dig

Will Rathouse

In August we returned to Kenley Airfield in Surrey for a third summer of leading the Kenley Revival Project community dig - a chance for local volunteers to uncover the hidden secrets of the airfield, which is the most intact fighter airfield from World War 2 and played a key part in the Battle of Britain. Excavations uncovered a toe and heel piece which once would have been attached to the sole of an ammo boot. In this blog, William Rathouse shares what research has revealed about a possible amusing incident in their past...

It seemed a little surprising to find the remains of a single boot right next to an area of tarmac close to one of the blast pens where aircraft were parked. However an anecdote in Peter Flint’s history of RAF Kenley (pp27-29) may explain the find:

"In the first couple of months of 1924 planes from RAF Northolt conducted an unexpected ultra-low-level flypast of Kenley in a manner that the Kenley personnel deemed offensive. Thus subsequently the chemists shops of Whyteleafe were bought out of toilet paper and RAF Northolt was toilet papered from the air by planes from Kenley. One of these planes made a forced landing there due to engine trouble so the Northolt personnel were in no doubt who to blame. The next visit to Kenley by Northolt aircraft involved a bombardment of old boots! The saga ended on the orders of the Air Commodore after Kenley personnel planted a couple of trees appropriated from a London club in the middle of RAF Northolt.

Of course we can never know for sure, but it is exciting to think that the boot pieces we found near one of the blast pens this summer may have come from the old boot bombardment of RAF Kenley by planes from Northolt!

Kenley Revival Project community dig 2019 (c) MOLA
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