Rise and Defend – The USAF At Manston 1950-1958


Taken over by the United States Air Force in 1950 as a direct result of the developing chill of the Cold War, the ex-RAF station at Manston in Kent served as a forward air base from which American aircraft could be rapidly deployed to meet the threat of incoming Soviet bombers, with an intercept area well away from the UK mainland. Manston also served as a base from which USAF forces in Europe could be speedily reinforced and also hosted some of the earliest helicopter-equipped dedicated SAR squadrons around the British coast.

Despite never firing a shot in anger, the Manston-based units played a major role in the development of operational use and tactics of jet aircraft such as the F-84 Thunderjet, the nuclear-armed Thunderstreak and the F-86 Sabre in their numerous variants. The difficulties and tribulations attached to these sometimes led to situations of extreme danger for the crews, but also occasionally of farce. In the end, Manston was closed as a USAF base — not for military reasons, but in the interests of noise abatement… The author tells it as it was and the result is a fascinating record of the men, machines and operations out of Manston.


Duncan Curtis served in the Royal Air Force for 24 years as an airframe and engine technician. He is a specialist on the F-86 Sabre and has had five earlier books published on the subject. He is married and lives in Wiltshire.


  • Photos/Illus: b&w and colour photographs throughout plus 16 page colour section
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Flight Recorder Publications Ltd; First Edition edition (31 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954560558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954560553
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.6 x 29.8 cm

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27 Responses

  1. Irvin J Pugh says:

    I was stationed At manston AFB 4 years with USAF leaving aroud 1957 or 8. I would like a copy of your book if it us a talking book .Also history and US personnel from that period of time

  2. Alan Cloke says:

    Perhaps you can help me I am trying to trace my father possibly al or bob who was stationed at Manston about the same time as you he met my mother Beatrice affectionately known as Pat

    • Barbara Robson says:

      I am in a similar position to yourself Alan. I want to trace my American father and learn if I have any half brothers or sisters. His name may be Leroy Wesson. I was born in January 1958. My mother’s name was Vivien, also known as Viv.

      • Anita Stokes says:

        Hi Barbara
        I was born in June 1958 and found my American father who was based at Manston through DNA testing just recently good luck on your journey. Anita

        • Lorraine Stokes says:

          Hi Barbara, iam also in that boat, I have had no luck trying to find details of my farther based at manston 1957 when I was conceived, there’s got to be some info on who was there then , no one wants to give out any details by the look of it,

    • Terry Prue says:

      Hi Alan, would you be prepared to talk to me about your family history and Manston? The Ramsgate Society is preparing events and information packs for schools about this part of the town’s history and sadly that must include stories about wives and children who for one reason or another were not able to return to America with their fathers. ‘Rise and Defend’ has been an invaluable source to us on the base but not for these personal stories. Please contact me at news@ramsgate-society.org.uk if you are able to talk to me. Terry Prue

  3. Tina says:

    I found my 1/2 sister, who’s father was American and based at Manston, through DNA testing. My sister had passed but her daughter also did the DNA test and we linked.

  4. Pete says:

    Hi Irvin, I lived near Manston and can remember the Americans stationed there, I was 10 yrs old and the an American Officer let me and my mate play in a grounded Lancaster Bomber. Would you know about Lancaster?

  5. Beverley says:

    I am lead to believe my natural father was an American based at Manston, or the Ashford base, in 50’s.
    I was conceived around Christmas 1956.
    Does anyone have any photos of their notorious Christmas parties or know of the name Gerry Zimmia, or something like that.
    My natural mother’s name was Phyllis Davieau/Phyllis Sergant.

  6. Angela Jeffery says:

    Hi Tina,
    I am trying to pinpoint who my father is too.
    Pretty sure his surname is Heckman born in the Nebraska area of USA.
    I was born in August 1945. my mum lived in Sandwich Kent.
    I just can not seem to be able to find which of the Heckman brothers served in Kent, England.
    any advice will be most gratefully received.
    Take Care

  7. Nancy says:

    Im looking for my cousins dad who was a major in the manston in 19 51 /1952.Thanks.

  8. Lorraine Stokes says:

    Hi iam also wanting to find my father who was based there in 1957, no one seems to keep any records of that info, if anyone knows we’re there’s records of the names of American airman there I would love to know thanks

  9. Lorraine Stokes says:

    Hi Barbara, iam in same boat as you, and I was born January 1958 also, I wonder why there’s no records of the airman who were there then ? They must have some somewhere ?

  10. Jason says:

    Hi my grandfather was based there in the 50s I think he was an MP at that time while living there thay had a house of base but would like to know more about the use and history of it my grandfather was d fouche

  11. I was at school at St Gregory’s just up the road in Margate.
    My friend was a USAF serviceman’s son and we did our first holy communion at SS Austin and Gregory’s church in Victoria road Margate, was picked up in his dads Chvrolet Impala.

  12. Daniel Jackson says:

    I’m hoping to find my grandfather. My dad David was born in 1954, fathered by an American serviceman. I assume he was the the father of my auntie Linda born 1958 as well.. My grandmother shirley kept her secrets to her grave, but she told my dad on her death bed that his father was indeed a usaf service man. We don’t have a name to work with… But if on the other the side of the pond you are looking for shirley Jackson, and David… Then I think we would be looking for each other. History is history, knowing is everything ❤️

  13. June Pym, says:

    My daughter was fathered by an American at Manston she was born Sep 1956 I had a medical there so we could get married, we never married the last I saw of hem was Feb 1958 but when my daughter sent for his military records it said he went home April 1958, He died in 1995, we have traced his family but they don’t seem to want to know, his name was Robert Wayne King

  14. June Pym, says:

    I just sent comment touched wrong button daughter was born Sept 1958 not 1956

  15. June Pym, says:

    My daughter was fathered by an American stationed at Manston she was born Sept 1958. I had a medical at the base for us to get married we never did the last time I saw him was Feb of that year, but when my daughter sent for his military records he went back April of that year. He died in 1995 in Florida his name was Robert Wayne King.

  16. June Pym, says:

    Hi Irvin, I worked as a cashier at the Manston Usaf base in 1957. The Robert Wayne King I spoke about at the bottom of this page was in the 92nd squadron he was a S/Sgt. When I met him he was with a m/sgt Dobbs, did you know either of them?

  17. Natalie says:

    Hello. I work at a nursing home, also a retired USAF MSGT. One of my patients asked if I could help him find any information about his friend Joseph McMurray who was killed on the flight line in 1958 at RAF Manston. I told him I would search all over to find anything. Anyone here know of any way to find more info on this incident or Joseph? Surviving family, burial place, anything? I have searched all the Vet Cemetaries. He said he was in the 514th FIS

    • History of Manston Airfield says:

      Hi Natalie. I have emailed you a couple of times to continue our conversation as I have really important news for you, but I haven’t had any response. Hopefully you get a notification of this instead.

  18. Rebekah Shanley says:

    I am trying to find some info re my grandad Jim (James/J.P) Price.. he was at Manston with the American Airforce during 1955-6 .. before that he was a B-52 aerial gunman with the Tuskegee Airman until they became fully integrated in 1949. I’d like to find out what squadron etc he was with please?

  19. Rebecca Uff says:

    Hi I’m trying to trace my grandfather my mum was born October 1957, fathered by an American the only lead I have is Durrell Watson.
    My grandmother kept everything to herself when it came to mums real father other than it could be Durrell Watson American who visited the King’s Lynn area early 1957

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