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TOPIC: TUNISIA - Kairouan Airfield

TUNISIA - Kairouan Airfield 14 Feb 2012 14:19 #1

  • solotk
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Dear all,

According to that sage tome of wisdom, wikipedia, Kairouan Airfield is at co-ords 35° 34′ 47.5″ N, 10° 7′ 34.66″ E , The original poster describes faint outlines of runways and taxiways etc, which if I stretch my imagination a bit , I think I can see. A quick dekko locally shows something that may or may not be at 35°35'47.33"N 10° 7'57.42"E . However, on consulting the Luftwaffe Happy snaps for the area they put Kairouan Airfield at 35°41'10.00"N 10° 4'40.00"E . The Hanger to the NNW of that co-ord does feature on the original pictures. So, are there in fact 3 airfields in the area , is there one misplaced , or is there only the one the Luftwaffe refers to? There are references to an Air Park/Depot at Kairouan, so possibly 2 airfields? All help much appreciated :)

Out to you

solotk

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TUNISIA - Kairouan Airfield 16 Feb 2012 21:17 #2

  • Bomber
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Hi solotk just like to say have just retuned from Tunisia yesterday & was talking to some one who as lived near Kairouan but did not know mutch about the place . However some years a goe on apreviouse holiday my partner & my self hired a car to explore Roman sites . We were driving to Duaga & went through the town of Kairouan when we had passed through i pointed out what i said looked like an old war time airfield having done so many in the UK you know when you come across familier telltale signes . Just of to the left of us was what looked like an old derolect hanger . I siad ime sure this is an abandoned airfield . Latter when making enquiries i was told it was indeed an old RAF airfield from the Second world war .

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TUNISIA - Kairouan Airfield 17 Feb 2012 09:48 #3

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only reference I have to Kairouan is in a 86th fighter group memoir..... "arrived at Kairouan Landing Ground, two miles from that Moslem Holy City. This L. G. was a grassy plain surrounded by "wadis". From the tents, the Mosques of Kairouan could be seen. In the evenings while the men stood by their tent flaps watching the raids over Sousse, they were plagued by the thousand and one prevalent varieties of insects, bugs and snakes...."

From this I doubt it refers to 35° 34′ 47.5″ N, 10° 7′ 34.66″ E as that site is nearer 6 miles from the old town and supports 35°41'10.00"N 10° 4'40.00"E (although I would guess this is the most southern tip of the site)....

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TUNISIA - Kairouan Airfield 17 Feb 2012 22:31 #4

  • Ray
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It seems that there was more than one airfield at Kairouan. The Luftwaffe co-ordinates are likely to be correct as they were in occupation for a couple of years and Google Earth seems to support this.
The RAF used an airfield variously known as Kairouan North or Temmar as an operating base for Wellingtons in mid-1943.
This airfield was about 5 miles to the North.
To complicate matters 3 RCAF Wellington squadrons operated out of a base that they called Kairouan/Zina.
This is getting quite intriguing.

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TUNISIA - Kairouan Airfield 19 Feb 2012 21:41 #5

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Hi Ray i googled Kairoan airfield history & it only menstion the Americans at the site . I know that the RAF also used the site or an airfield in the same area as once read an article in the RAF news this also had photes acompanying the article showing the Hangers and layout . So was this the airfield i saw back in 1993 ?

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TUNISIA - Kairouan Airfield 06 Apr 2012 18:03 #6

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Bomber , Ray and Jenna, firstly thanks for your replies, and my apologies for the delay in replying, unfortunately HMG made some demands on my time lately :)

There was an Air Depot at Kairouan , where we gathered lots of loot we captured. I found a reference on the Internet and promptly lost it again. Bomber, I think the site you noticed may be the one I referred to , as the hangar is still there, even in the latest GE images. Jenna and Ray, I think there may well be more than one site, including areas previously unlogged as airfields? I've attached a GE overhead of the area, which I've doodled on, as there are some features that may relate, but may also be nothing. Of particular interest is the arrow straight road running to the South as marked by Blue arrows. The area where this road ends to the South west looks interesting too. The pink tear drops denote areas of possible interest.

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TUNISIA - Kairouan Airfield 24 Apr 2012 12:27 #7

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Hello folks, I've been studying the airfields of Kairouan over a number of years and am happy to share my findings with you.

I will mention (and probably confirm) that there is very little written about Kairouan and it's airfields, so what information I've scrapped together has taken a bit of detective work, there are a couple of books which I've listed below which may be of interest (there's always the Squadrons / Group ORB's - but again, they are fairly sketchy on the subject) so please bare with me if the going gets a little confusing.

Around 1943 the town of Kairouan actually held within it's immediate area 5 airfields (8 in total if we spread our wings (no pun intended) a little further) they are as follows, Kairouan North (Temmar), Kairouan West (Allani), Hani West, Hani East, Hani Main, (with Zina and Pavillier further South and Alem further North) these airfields were used by No 205 group, RAF and operated their various wings from May 1943 onwards, the breakdown of the occupying wings/squadrons are as follows:
Temmar No 231 Wing, 37 and 70 Squadrons
Allani No 330 Wing, 142 and 150 Squadrons
Hani West No 236 Wing, 40 and 104 Squadrons
(Zina & Pavillier No 331 Wing, 420, 424 and 425 Squadrons (RCAF) - on loan from Bomber command)
The USAAF also made good use of these airfields, although I've not pinned down their exact spread (although I do know the 57th fighter group occupied Temmar for a period)

The approx Coordinates where I believe some of the above airfields lay.
Temmar, 35 44 41 58N 10 05 43 04E, the main hanger can be seen
Allani, 35 39 30 77N 9 59 58 11E
Hani West 35 46 12 70N 10 18 18 91E various derelict buildings can be seen
Hani East 35 41 30 67N 10 24 09 44E
These airfields are of particular interest to me as my father was an aircrew member of 37 squadron (previously with 117 (albeit Briefly) and 108 (also 205 group)- both Middle East based squadrons) however an incident on June 8/9th 1943 brought to an end dads flying career, on this evening 9 aircraft of 37 squadron (due to very poor runway conditions, very few a/c operated that night) bombed the Italian island of Pantellaria, upon their return, and as their airfield was unserviceable, they were diverted to Hani West where upon landing an a/c of No 40 squadron whilst taking off piled into three of 37's a/c, killing 5 crew members of Dad's a/c (Wellington 1c, Q - Queenie) dad was the sole survivor, sustaining major injuries amongst which included the loss of sight in one eye. After 4 months in No5 general hospital, Cairo (where he was actually pronounced dead upon his arrival) he remained in the middle east with No4 ERS until Aug '45

The coordinates mentioned in previous posts 35° 34′ 47.5″ N, 10° 7′ 34.66″ E look like Zina the clue being that it lies south of the railway line, however the Co's that confuse me slightly is 35°41'10.00"N 10° 4'40.00"E, if this was an airfield then that could actually be Temmar, which means the above coordinate I've listed for Temmar may actually be Alem East (Cheria) (actually, more 35 41 45 23n 10 03 04 56E - where can be seen some interesting buildings and what looks like a concrete taxi way) however, my theory is that when the USAAF maintained a post war airfield at Kairouan, this site may well have been it.

Not easy is it, but I hope I've managed to shed some light on the subject

Colin

PS, Bomber, solotk (or infact anyone) - did you happen to take any photo's? would dearly love to see them if so, one day I'd like to visit Kairouan myself

I've a photograph of Dads wrecked Wellington, complete with buildings etc in the background if anyone is interested.

further recommended reading:
Bombers Over Sand and Snow - 205 group RAF in World War II - Alun Granfield
Wellington Wings An RAF Intelligence Officer in the Western Desert - F.R.Chappell
Wise Without Eyes 37 Squadron RAF 1939-1945 - Kevin Mears

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TUNISIA - Kairouan Airfield 24 Apr 2012 12:37 #8

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Colin,

Firstly many thanks for your very complete reply! I'm just about to get a big cup of tea and take another look at GE armed with your co-ords. 35°41'10.00"N 10° 4'40.00"E is definitely an airfield location , and appears on the Luftwaffe Happy Snaps as a target airfield. The Hangars featured on the photos are definitely the buildings to the NNW. Will try and post the photo in a minute.

As regards the photos you have, yes please!

Best regards

solotlk

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TUNISIA - Kairouan Airfield 24 Apr 2012 12:58 #9

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[IMG]/community/101848=8650-Kalrouan 1ad.jpg
[IMG]/community/101848=8651-Kairoun overhead.jpg

Edited to add - Doh! Just spotted second runway running WSW -> ENE 425 Yards N of the Hangar. 2000 yards along that line, there is a 30 degree paved feature that bisects heading NNE that I'm amazed I never spotted before. Looking at your co-ords, my eye is drawn to the patches at 35°46'25.05"N 10°19'36.85"E and 35°46'31.31"N 10°19'43.48"E as well.

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TUNISIA - Kairouan Airfield 24 Apr 2012 13:08 #10

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Thanks for your reply solotlk

Having looked at 35°41'10.00"N 10° 4'40.00"E again, this location could very well be Hani West, the only 'map' I have with airfields marked is not very detailed, but it does mark Hanni West as being located fairly central to the town

Temmar is correct in its location on the road out of Kairouan.

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