217 Maintenance Unit.


Badge of 217 MU


This unit was a renaming of the No 279 MU at Cardington formed in 1948 which was itself an expansion of the former gas plant division from the old airship days. No 217 MU absorbed other units outside of Cardington and maintained and repaired all gas cylinders for the RAF, Navy, and MOD throughout the world. The unit closed down in 2000 by which time it was entirely civilianised. An entry in the daily returns for this unit records that:

“No 217 Maintenance Unit was formed on 17th January 1955 as a result of the amalgamation of No’s 244 and 279 Maintenance Units. Wing Commander W G Clegg OBE, was posted in as the Commanding Officer.”

The next record reads:

“No 9 Mobile Oxygen Plant Unit. This Unit was transferred from RAF Kinloss to No 217 Maintenance Unit on 25th January 1955. Service personnel arrived on this date and the plant is to follow at a later date.”

A few weeks later in Feb 1955 the Unit also took responsibility from No 95 Maintenance Unit and assumed control of RAF Riseley and RAF Lords Bridge.

Stats for Feb 1955 show the following personnel numbers: RAF Officers 4, Civilian Officers 4, Industrial Staff 242, Non Industrial Staff 33, Total Staff 283.


Signage at RAF Cardington depicting the Maintenance Unit - renamed in 1955


This extract from the RAF Military lists dated May 1943 shows senior personnel serving at the Gas Plant. The Senior Technical Officer is shown as W. P. Rogers. This is Woodis Paschal Rogers who first arrived at Cardington in 1925 and lived at Shortstown opposite the station at this time. Prior to 1925 he had worked on gas production for airships and is a typical example of the legacy of the airship programme at Cardington that was passed on to the RAF in later years

Early Unit Commanders

This list of individuals shows men who had served as commanders from 1955 - 1965.

Wing Commander Clegg OBE 17 Jan 1955 - 4 Mar 1956.

The first commander of this unit was Wing Commander W G Clegg OBE. He was awarded an OBE in June 1944 although it is not known what this was for. In the honours listings he is cited as being a member of the RAF Voluntary Reserves. He retired from the RAF on Aug 20 1958

Wing Commander C V G Usher  5 Mar 1956 - June 1958

The second commander was Wing Commander C V G Usher – I have been unable to find out anything about this man. Can anyone help?

Wing Commander A S Harman OBE  26 July 1960 – 19 May 1963

The next commander was Wing Commander A S Harman - again I have been unable to find out anything about this man.

Wing Commander W T Wakeham MBE  20 May 1963  - unknown

In 1944 he was awarded an MBE. He retired from the RAF in Jan 1967.