The black and white photograph below was taken in Fradley during the construction of the airfield, between 1938 and 1939. In the background, you can clearly see the construction work well under way. The man in the photograph is Richard Goodall, or to give him his full title; Richard, William, Ewart, Goodall. He was always known as Dick Goodall.

He was not a pilot, a navigator, or in fact a member of any aircrew who flew out of R.A.F. Lichfield during the Second World War, neither was he a member of the ground crew. He did however, together with his fellow workmen, play a crucial role in the story of the airfield. He was a member of the construction team who built Fradley Aerodrome.

The photograph is one of sixteen very small black and white pictures which Dick kept over the years. They provide us with a valuable insight into the building of Fradley Aerodrome and reveal in particular, the various stages in the construction of the aircraft hangars. Despite the fact that the hangars together with many other buildings on the airfield may have been hastily constructed, when war with Nazi Germany appeared to be inevitable, they were to endure for many years.

In fact, many of these buildings have only recently been demolished. In the case of the hangars, some traces still remain and the outline of a few hangars can still be seen when driving along the A38, a testament to the quality of the work of the construction teams.

The photographs have been very kindly donated by Dick’s son (Richard Goodall) and are a valuable addition to our archive. Richard has also provided us with some very interesting background information about his father.

He was born in 1905 in the small hamlet of Foremark, near Repton in South Derbyshire and began his working life as an apprentice joiner. As a young man, he travelled widely for example, working in Camden Town in London, and for a short time in the Irish Free State. At one point, he also worked in South Wales as an under butler at Dunraven Castle.

However, by the early 1930’s, he was back in Derbyshire, working for a building company which his son believes could possibly have been called Gee, Walker, Slater and Co. They were involved in the construction of cinemas. Dick worked on the Gaumont cinema which was completed in 1934. In 1936, he met and married his wife and continued working in the area.

He also worked on the Majestic cinema which was again in Derby. This opened in 1938. It is probable that his experience in Derby can be linked to his work in Fradley. Gee Walker, Slater and Co. may have been contracted to work on the site of the future R.A.F. base. Despite the fact that Richard was living in Littleover in Derbyshire, he travelled every day to the site of Fradley Aerodrome.
Here are the photographs which have been enlarged and are surprisingly clear given that they were taken so long ago.

In this final photograph, Dick is standing on the right, next to a fellow worker. His son believes that he was a foreman and certainly from the manner of his dress and demeaner, this appears to be probable.

Dick always regretted the fact that he was unable to join his two brothers who served in the armed forces during the war. But due to contracting polio as a young boy, he was left with a pronounced limp.

However, he did feel that by working on the construction of what was to become R.A.F. Lichfield, and serving in his local Home Guard unit he had “Done his bit”! I think that everyone would agree that he had indeed “Done his bit”.

Photographs published with the kind permission of Richard Goodall, in remembrance of an inspirational, proud, skilled, hardworking man and a wonderful father.