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Thread: RAF bars in London

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    Default RAF bars in London

    During WW-II a few bars in London were very popular with RAF-aircrew. among them were The Brevet Club, Oddenino's and The Shepherd's Club. Who can help me with information about these and other bars/nightclubs. Is there ever published anything about the nigthlife in wartime London and especially the nightlife of RAF-aircrew? Any help is most appreciated!

    Best regards,

    Erwin van Loo
    Netherlands Institute for Military History

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    Hi Erwin,

    unfortunately I can not help you with mentioned clubs as I have not heard/read ybout yours in books/memories of Czechoslovak airmen.
    But as I know each nationality serving with the RAF has its own "favourite" places for nightlife while in London.


    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Default RAF Bars in London

    Erwin
    I have a copy of letter from a RAAF airman, written 22nd June 1943, to his brother in Sydney .

    He mentions staying at The Strand Palace Hotel while on leave in London
    To quote from his letter "a nice posh hotel The Strand Palace .It is an expensive place but we figured that leave was worth spending properly "

    The Regent Palace Hotel was another popular place.

    He also mentions The Boomerang Club in London
    To quote again from his letter " The Boomerang Club, which is for for Aussies, is the best serviceman's centre in London.It's a really swell place and if one wants to meet another cobber it is a good place "

    This man was a crew member of my RAAF pilot cousin's Wellington of 466 Sqdn RAAF , based at Leconfield, Yorkshire. 3 weeks after writing the letter home the Wellington was shot down over Belgium & all crew killed.

    Anne

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    Hi Erwin,

    Oddenino's features in the Govert Steen correspondence. "The Orchard" in Ruislip, next to RAF Northolt, London, was the favourite of Polish crew stationed there. "Gibbs Hatch" in Dunsfold for 320B when stationed there. No systematic work written on the subject, as far as I know. The London pubs you are after may still exist. If true, then there shall be pics on the walls, and there shall be some-one who can tell more. A next holiday destination?

    Regards,

    Rob

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    Hey Anne, I've stayed in the Strand Palace Hotel on the Strand; it's still there! Not much of a palace these days, though. More like a dingey 3-Star: nice foyer, shame about the rooms...

    Hi Erwin

    I've no info on RAF haunts during the war, but during the 1930s (whilst 41 Squadron was based at Northolt), the pilots frequented the Trocadero on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Windmill Street, a short distance from Piccadilly Circus. It was considered one of Europe’s prime restaurants after it opened in 1896, and had a foyer lined with marble. The main restaurant and popular 'Long Bar' were located on the ground floor, and function rooms available on upper floors.

    Another location was the Café Royale on Regent Street in London W.1, just off Piccadilly Circus. Established in 1865 by a French wine merchant, Café Royale was considered one of the more famous and glamorous restaurants in London in the 1930s, and is still in business today.

    I've been in touch with both locations (or what's left of them) but neither, unfortunately, have any records left in existence from that time. Bugger...

    Hope this is at least of some help, though.

    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    To Steve:

    Writing to such places does not seem to be very productive, unless the place would still be run by the same family as in wartime. Going there, and find or be pointed to the elderly frequenters or former owners, holds a better promise. Still, 1940-1945 photographs can be found on pub walls, but perhaps not in big & posh establishments.

    Regards,

    Rob

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    Dear all,

    Thanks so far for the interesting reactions!

    Greetings Erwin

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    The Trocadero was certainly still in vogue during the war, as was the Windmill Theatre (later the Windmill Club) on Great Windmill Street - famous for its 'nude revue'. The RAF Club in Piccadilly was also popular, however slightly more conservative. As mentioned, the Orchard in Ruislip was a major watering hole for Polish fighter pilots at Northolt and still contains a large collection of wartime photos on the walls today. The American Eagle club in London was frequented by USAAF troops during WW2, although I understand it was alcohol free! London was also home to other clubs such as Crackers, Chez Moi, Petit Club Francaise and the Cafe de Paris (bombed in 1941). The list is fairly endless and all were frequented by Commonwealth Air Force personnel.

    Rgds

    Jonny

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    Default brevet club london

    I have to hand "The fall of fortresses" by Elmer Bendiner. In it he describes the club, characters and an evening there. Its a very good personal account of a mans war over Europe in 1944 and London at the time.
    Hylton

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    Default Brevet Flying Club

    The Brevet Flying Club was located in Shepherds Market, just behind the RAF Club.

    I joined as a member in 1965 and my membership card was a 'spoof' of the (then) official vehicle Driving Licence (a little red book with stick in labels for renewals etc). It was, however, called a 'Drinking Licence'.

    The club was - by 1965 - a bit seedy (on one occasion I stayed there over a public holiday, the room next to mine was occupied by a lady of 'easy virtue' who entertained her clients on a very squeaky bed!!). It was a typical building of the Victorian era with narrow corridors and steep stairs. The bar areas were not all that large and so I can imagine that it would get very crowded and very smokey, quickly.

    I last visited the club in 1971 for a lunch following the laying up of the 110 Squadron standard in St Clement Danes. Shortly afterwards, the club closed. However, by that time I was a member of the RAF Club (as I still am) and that was a very different proposition altogether.

    Old Duffer

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