Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

BEDFORDSHIRE, HUNTINGDONSHIRE & CAMBRIDGESHIRE WW1 & 2 AIRFIELDS

For detailed information read 'Cambridgeshire Airfields in the Second World War'
by Graham Smith, published by Countryside Books - ISBN 1-85306-456-4

The Bomber Command Groups effective in this area are listed at the Bottom of the page. For the various commands of the RAF see the RAF Commands website.

Airfield County
Opened
Forces
Details
Alconbury Huntingdonshire
1938


Alconbury was opened as satellite to Upwood with Battles of 63 Squadron, and became a satellite to Wyton in September 1939. It went on to be used by 15, 40 and 156 Operational Bomber Squadrons. The airfield was transferred to 8th USAAF control in August 1942. The 93rd Bomb Group ('Travelling Circus') were stationed here between September 1942 and November 1942 operating B-24's. From December 1942 to September 1943, 92nd Bomb Group ('Fames Favored Few') moved here from Bovingdon with B-17's as a CCRU. In 1943 this was reformed as a combat group, the first operational missions being flown in May 1943 before moving to Podington. From 15th April 1943 to June 1943 95th Bomb Group where based here with B-17's. Then from September 1943 to June 1945, 482nd Bomb Group, a Pathfinder unit with B-17 and B-24's, moved in. In March 1944 the station became an operational radar development unit.

Bassingbourn Cambridgeshire
1938


Bassignbourn was originally an operational R.A.F. Bomber Command Station. The Squadrons based here were 35, 98, 104, 108, 215 - (mainly with Wellingtons). The airfield was then transferred to 8th U.S.A.A.F. Command in October 1942. From 14th October 1942 to 25th April 1945, 91st Bomb Group, commanded by Colonel Stanley Wray, moved here from Kimbolton. The airfield is famous as the base of the B-17 'Memphis Belle' and was immortalised in the wartime film of the same name with many scenes shot here. The 91st Bomb Group ('The Ragged Irregulars') flew 340 combat missions in B-17s from here between 7th November 1942 and 25th April 1945.

Bottisham Cambridgeshire
1940


During early summer 1940 a stretch of farmland was prepared as an auxiliary landing ground for Waterbeach. In July 1941 the airfield was handed over to Army Co-operation Command and one of its squadrons, No 241, arrived with Westland Lysander II's. On 3rd July 1942 No 168 Squadron moved into Bottisham flying Tomahawks which were joined by Mustands in November the same year. In the same month the Squadron moved out to Pidham in Hampshire. They were replaced by No 652 AOP (Air Observation Post) flying Tiger Moths and Taylorcraft Austers. these remained here until January 1943. Between February and April Bottisham was the temporary home of No. 2 Squadron flying Mustangs. From April 1943 fresh construction work took place extending the runways and more accomodation sites being built.

From November 1943 the airfield was allocated to the 8th Air Force, 361st Fighter Group flying Republic P-47D or Thunderbolt. In January 1944 the runway was extended a further 1,470 yards. The 21st January 1944 saw the group fly its first mission. During the second week May 1944 all P-47's were replaced Mustang P-51Bs and Cs. The 361st left Bottisham on 26th September 1944 virtually closing it.

Bourn Cambridgeshire
1941

The airfield at Bourn was constructed during 1940/41 as a satellite for Oakington. In July 1941 testing landings were carried out Wellingtons of 101 Squadron. In the autumn Wellingtons and Stirlings of 7 Squadron were dispersed here and towards the end of the year three large hangars were built for the use of Short Brothers to repair damaged Stirlings of No 3 Group.

On 11th February 1942 101 Squadron moved in from Oakington starting with Wellington ICs but eventually converting to Mark IIIs; the squadron moved to Stradishall in Suffolk on 11th August 1942. They were replaced Stirlings of XV Squadron from Wyton, these were upgraded to Mark IIs a the start of 1943. The XV flew their last mission from Bourn on 10th/11th April 1943.

Bourn was transferred to No 8 Group, No 97 ('Straits Settlement') PFF flying Lancasters who flew their first mission from Bourn 26/27th April 1943. The losses, and therefore reduction in strength of the squadron, caused the squadron to be loaned to No 5 Group, leaving for Coningsby 18th April 1944.

On 23rd March 1944 the first Mosquitos arrived from Marham belonging to 105 Squadron. The squadron was equipped in March 1944 with Mosquito BIXs and BXVIs. On 18th December 1944 a further Mosquito Squadron, No 162, was formed at Bourn. The 2/3rd May 1945 saw the last operastion for both 105 and 162 Squadrons.

Cambridge Cambridgeshire
1938

Farmland outside of Cambridge was purchased in 1935 as war clouds gathered over Europe and the Royal Air Force realised that it would need to train pilots for the expanding service. This farmland was the site for the present Cambridge Airport and was first used as an airfield in 1937. It was officially opened in October 1938 and the flying display to mark the occasion included the first public showing of the Spitfire with three machines from 19 Squadron from nearby Duxford.

At its peak during the Second World War, Marshall's Flying Training organisation at Cambridge had around 180 aircraft, mostly Tiger Moths and a few Magisters. The Company trained over 20,000 pilots and instructors for the RAF during the War. As a result of it pre-war civilian work and experience of maintenance on Tiger Moths and Magisters during the war, the Company developed engineering expertise in the maintenance and repair of training aircraft, particularly Harts, Audaxes, Hinds and Battles. The Company was thus ideally placed to play a key role in the Civilian Repair Organisation to cope with the burden of salvage and repair and, initially, Marshall at Cambridge was given responsibility for the rebuilding of Whitleys, Oxfords, Gladiators and Ansons but later went on to work on Spitfires, Hurricanes, Wellingtons, Blenheims, Typhoons and Mosquitos. During the six years of war the Company completed the rebuilding and on-site repair of over 5,000 aircraft.

RAF. 50 Grp. EFTS

Cardington Bedfordshire
1914

Originally the Shorts airship construction site where the R31 and R32 were built. The original huge airships sheds were used by the R101 Although not an airfield in the strict sense, Cardington has been included because of it special place in British aviation history associated with the H.M. Airship R101 and the disaster on 5th October 1930.

Cardington's was saved when it was decided to resurrect the First World War barrage balloon defence system and No 1 Balloon Training Unit was formed on 9th January 1937 with Grp. Capt A.A. Thompson, MC, AFC as Commanding Officer.  One month later the first Barrage Balloon Group, No 30, was formed and the first training courses for balloon crews were started; in November of 1938 30 Group became the Balloon Command. By September 1939 almost 50 squadrons had been formed manning about 600 sites. The balloons were to remain a familiar site in our skies for the duration of the war.  In November 1943 No 1 Balloon Training Unit was closed, having seen some 22,000 operators and drivers through its courses; the Barrage Command was disbanded in February 1945.

In September 1937 No 2 RAF Recruitment Centre moved in from Henlow; this was to be followed by Aircrew Selection and Medical Boards.

Castle Camps Cambridgeshire
1940

The airfield at Castle Camps was built in September 1939 and opened as a Debden satellite in June 1940. 85 Squadron and 111 Squadron had short periods there. 73 Squadron flew Hurricanes from Castle Camps in September, but there were no permanent structures, only tents to live in, and those squadrons left in November 1940 to convert to night flying. Castle Camps was exposed and windy and in 1941 some better facilities and operating runways were built. The original grass runways were replaced with tarmac runways by the end of 1941 and hard-standings were constructed.

In 1942 the first Mosquitos started to assemble here in great secrecy for test flying with 157 Squadron until replaced in March 1943 by Number 605 Mosquito Squadron. In July 1943 Castle Camps became a satellite of North Weald and the Mosquito began to be used for intruder operations, and later for bomber support operations. Mosquitos left Castle Camps in October 1943. 527 Radar Calibration Squadron replaced them until February 1944 when Spitfires arrived, then Typhoons, then Tempests, all leaving quickly. The Canadian 410 Squadron again flew Mosquitos from Castle Camps until April 1944. In July to October 1944, 68 Squadron's Mosquitos also arrived, and also those of 151 and 25 Squadron. In 1945 307 and 85 Squadrons flew from here, also in Mosquitos.

The following is a complete list of squadrons who flew from Castle Camps.

  • 85 Squadron Hurricane
  • 73 Squadron Hurricane
  • 157 Squadron Mosquito
  • 605 Squadron Mosquito
  • 456 Squadron RAAF Mosquito
  • 527 RCS Squadron Blenheim, Hurricane, Hornet, Moth
  • 91 Squadron Spitfire
  • 486 Squadron RNZAF Tempest
  • 410 Squadron RCAF Mosquito
  • 68 Squadron Mosquito
  • 151 Squadron Mosquito
  • 25 Squadron Mosquito
  • 307 Squadron (Polish) Mosquito

The station closed in January 1946.

Hurricane


Spitfire
Caxton Gibbet Cambridgeshire
1939

Caxton Gibbet airfield was situated close to the junction of the A428 and A1198 roads. In September 1939 it was being used as a sattelite for Bassignbourn. From 1940 is was used by 50 Group as a landing area for No 22 Elemetary Flying Training School Tiger Moths based at Marshall's, Cambridge.

Cranfield Bedfordshire
1937

Work on  the airfield began in 1935 by the contractors John Laing & Son Ltd. and it opened in May 1936. When the airfield opened it accomodated No 1 (Bomber) Group who arrived during the first week of July comprising the Hind aircraft of  Nos 62, 82 and 108 squadrons. No 82 Squadron were re-equipped with Blenheims in March 1938 and No 62 Squadron were re-equipped with Blenheims in February 1938.

From August 1939, Nos 35 and 207 Squadrons, with Battles used the airfield for training pilots and observer/air gunners. The Squadrons were amalgamated on 1st October 1939 as 1 Group Pool. In September 1939 No 6 (Training) Group became responsible for the eight "Group Pool" units comprising fourteen squadrons with No 35 (Madras Presidency) and No 207 (Leicester) arrived at Cranfield towards the end of August to provide operational training. From 1939-40, the Squadrons moved out while the Station was requipped with new runways.

From 1940 to August 1941, 14 Service Flying Training School flew from here with Oxfords, then from August 1941 to 14th May 1945, 51 OTU training night fighter crews were based here flying Havocs, Blenheims and later Beaufighters and Mosquitoes.

Duxford Cambridgeshire
1919


Built as an RAF fighter base in 1918, Duxford was twinned with nearby Fowlmere. No 8 Squadron were based here between 1919-20, then 2 FTS. 19 Squadron were formed here on 1st April 1923 and were the first Squadron to receive the Mk1 Spitfire in 1938. The Station was enlarged between 1928 and 1932. It was operational during the Battle of Britain, involved in the 'Big Wing' controversy. Various RAF Fighter Command Squadrons operated here: 19, 56, 66, 133, 181, 195, 222, 242, 264, 266, 310 312, 601, 609, 611, AFDU. The airfield was transferred to USAAF in October 42 through to April 1943, then 350th Fighter Group, flying P-39 Airacobras, moved in from April 1943 to November 45, 78th Flying Group, flying P-47s until late 1944, then P-51Ds until November 1945.

Fowlmere Cambridgeshire
1916


Fowlmere has a long association with aviation starting in 1916 when land was leased as a landing station for aeroplanes. Then in 1918 a large aerodrome was constructed with six massive 'Belfast truss type' hangars, accommodation, workshops and instructional huts. No. 15 Squadron of the RAF disbanded here in 1918. It was however demolished in 1922/23. In 1940, the RAF used the fields of Manor Farm again as an airfield, by 12 Group as a satellite airfield for Duxford, and during 1943 the airfield was expanded to become, from 5th April 1944 to 10th October 1945, Station 378 of the USAAF 8th Air Force and was used by the 339th Fighter Group flying P51 Mustangs. Throughout this period the Group flew P-51Bs and Cs until equipped with P-51Ds.

Mustang P51-D
Mustang P-51D

The 339th flew 264 missions from Fowlmere and the Group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for it's actions on 10th/11th September 1944.

Glatton Huntingdonshire
1943


The aircraft of the 457th Bomb Group arrived at USAAF Station 130, Glatton, between 21st January and 1st February 1944. The new 457th airfield completely surrounded and included the village of Conington. Since there were already air fields at Honington and Coningsby, and in order to avoid confusion of names, the field was named after Glatton, a small village four miles west. The 457th were part of the 94th Combat Wing. They flew in the B-17 Flying Fortress.The 457th Bomb Group flew its last mission on 20 April 1945 and left Glatton 4th June 1945.

Gransden Lodge Huntingdonshire
1942

John Laing and Son Ltd also built Gransden Lodge; starting in April 1942 to through to April 1943, 1418 and 1474 Flights, with Wellingtons, conducted radio navigation and interrogation tests from here. 1418 joined Bomber Development Unit and 1474 became the basis for 192 Squadronn, which was formed here in January 1943. Both moved to Feltwell in Norfolk. In April 1943 the station became fully operational as part of No 8 Group providing training as the Pathfinder Navigation Training Unit but it was the RCAF squadron No 405 (Vancouver) that was to make Gransden Lodge its home for the war; they arrived from Leeming in Yorkshire on the 19th with Halifaxes. These were then converted to Lancasters in August 1943. No 142 Squadron Mosquitos arrived on 27th August 1944, flying Mosquitoes as part of the Light Night Striking Force; they stayed here until 1945. Bomber Command lost 102 aircraft from this station, 14 Mosquitoes, 27 Halifaxes and 61 Lancasters.

Graveley Cambridgeshire
1942

Opened March 1942 to house the RAF. No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group, Bomber Command Group No. 35 from 15th August 1942 to 16th September 1946. Opened as satellite to Tempsford then became satellite to Wyton in August 1942 before finally gaining full station status from May 1943. No 35 Group flew Lancaster Mks. I and III.

Henlow Bedfordshire
1918

Henlow started life as an Aircraft Repair Depot on 10th May 1918 as No 5 Eastern Area. In addition to this role there were also stints providing training and development, indeed the immediate pre-war years saw a variety of courses available in the RAF Technical College here.

In April 1938 Maintenance Command was formed and the unit at Henlow became No 13 MU under control of No 43 Group; mainly for repair and modification of aircraft.  By June 1940 most of the training units had left the station.

The Luftwaffe clearly considered Henlow to be of some strategic importance as it was bombed in September and November 1940, February 1941 and July 1942 but without serious damage.

In January 1940 the first Hurricane aircraft that had been built in Canada arrived here for assembly, test and delivery to the operational squadrons.  By late 1944 most of the Hurricanes had gone, the final one being appropriately named The Last of the Many left in September.

At the end of 1944 No 13 MU was still the main occupant but No 6 Repairable Equipment Unit (REU) was based there as well as a number of mobile Dental Units and The School of Aeronautical Engineering.

Kimbolton Huntingdonshire
1941


The airfield was originally constructed as a base for RAF aircraft in 1941 with a 1340 yard long main runway. After the airfield was taken over by the 8th Air Force, the runway was strengthened and extended to 2000 yds. At the same time, the number of hardstands was increased from 30 to 50. New crew quarters were built on the south side of the airfield close to the adjacent town of Kimbolton. Hanger accomodations consisted of two standard T2 disperesed on the western and southern sides of the airfield.

Kimbolton was initially, and briefly, occupied by the 91st Bomb Group in September 1942 but the airfield was determined to be unsuitable for operations using the heavy US bombers and the group was relocated to Bassingbourn.

Following upgrades, Kimbolton became the home of the 379th Bomb Group on 29th May 1943 which operated from there exclusively until it departed England on 12th June 1945.

Leagrave Bedfordshire  
WW1 use only.
Little Staughton Huntingdonshire
1942

The airfield was built in 1942 as a standard bomber station. It was used as a repair base for damaged American B-17s until February 1944 and then as a Pathfinder station with Lancaster Mks.I and III
and Mosquito Mks.IX and XVI's.

The new Lancaster squadron, No 582, was officially formed on 1st April 1944, to be joined the next day by the Mosquito crews of No 109 squadron from Marham in Norfolk. Both squadrons were very active on 5th/6th June, the eve of D-Day and continued afterwards with many successful and heroic missions.  Mosquito type XVI, crewed by Flying Officers A.C. Austin and P. Moorehead dropped the last bombs of the war at 02:14 hours on 21st April 1945.

Lord's Bridge Cambridgeshire  
RAF relief landing field for No 22 Elemetary Flying Training School trainees on Tiger Moths.
Luton Bedfordshire  

The airfield was started by private aviators before the first commercial use in 1932 producing the Percival Gull.  Six years later the Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School opened its doors.

At the outbreak of war all civilian flying ceased and the school closed; the airfield was soon to provide the production facility for Percival Proctors and the Airspeed Oxfords.

Training returned on 22nd July 1940 when No 24 Elementary Flying Training School moved in from Sydenham, South London before moving on to Sealand in Cheshire in early February 1942.  It was replaced in April by No 5 Ferry Pool of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) from Hatfield; the only all female Pool.  

By 1943 the ATA had more than 600 pilots and late in the year had to move on to Cosford (near the Spitfire factories) to make room for Mosquito manufacture.  The airfield later became London Luton Airport.

Mepal Cambridgeshire
1943

The airfield opened in April 1943 as a sub-station for No 33 Base (Waterbeach) in No 3 Group. June 1943 the Stirling III's of No 75 (New Zealand) Suadron arrived from Newmarket Heath. March 1944 saw No. 3 (Pathfinder Force) Group, Bomber Command Group No. 75 flying Lancaster Mks. I and III. The final operation of the Squadron, its 739th, was mounted on 24th April 1945.

Milton Ernest Hall Bedfordshire  

SOE Base. Milton Hall, designed by William Butterfield for the Starey family in the 19th century was a family home, replacing a gentleman's house built in 1660. Whilst Lord and Lady Ampthill were in residence, during the First World War, two Royal princes, sons of King George V and Queen Mary, stayed there and could be seen rushing around the grounds on their bicycles. A very different use during the Second World War as USAF Communications HQ included amongst its residents Glenn Miller, the famous band leader Mr. Millers' last fatal flight departed from nearby Twinwoods airfield which still exists but is private ground.

1944 : Headquarters of - Eighth Air Force Service Command

The most imposing of buildings and possibly the most covert. Milton Ernest Hall was surrounded in intrigue and rumour. Other than the official recognition as 8th Air Force Service Command HQ it was thought to be central to a wider group of 'stations' concerned with secret allied radio and propoganda transmitting, political warfare, and undercover operations by British and American units. Several governmant ministers were thought to be located there as well as mention of having it's own runway, although it has always been closely associated with Twinwood airfield. Some local rumour has it a tunnel connects the two, although the surrounding landscape would make that highly improbable.

Glenn Miller often stayed at Milton Ernest Hall and, along with Don Haynes (his manager), based the administration and organisation of the band to the USAAF bases in the United Kingdom from here. The band were also taken out to the hall for its meals in between broadcasts and rehearsals at the Co-Partner Hall in Bedford. In return for the hospitality shown by General Goodrich and his officers at the hall, Miller agreed to play a concert in the grounds on the afternoon of 16th July 1944. A huge sucess with 1,600 officers and men present.

Molesworth Huntingdonshire
1941




On 15th November 1941 460 Squadron RAAF were formed here with Wellingtons flying from here until to 4th January 1942. On the 2nd January 1942 159 Squadron were formed here with Liberators staying until to February 1942.

February 1942 saw the airfield transferred to USAAF and the runways extended. On 12th May 1942 the first US units arrived. From June 1942 to 10th September 1942, 5th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron were based here. Then from 9th June 1942 to 13th September 1942, 15th Bomb Group, with Douglas A20s, were here. Their first mission was on 29th June 1942 to Hazebrouck. They were re-equipped with B-17's 8/42 which completed the first USAAF mission from England.

On the 12th September 1942, 303rd Bomb Group ('Hells Angels') with B-17s arrived, being based here until to June 1945. Their first mission on 17th November 1942 was to St Nazaire, 'Hells Angels' went on to complete 364 missions. B-17F 'Hells Angels' of the 358th BS was the first to complete 25 missions. Knockout Dropper of the 359th BS was the first to complete 75 missions. The final mission was 25th April 1945 before moving to North Africa.

On 1st July 1945 441 and 442 Canadian Squadrons arrived with Mustangs based here until 10th August 1945. On 27th July 1945, 1335 Conversion Unit with Meteors arrived followed on 7th September 1915 by 19 Squadronn with Mustangs, then Spitfires, they remianed until 28th June 1946.

Oakington Cambridgeshire
1940
RAF. No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group, Bomber Command Group No. 7 flying Lancaster Mks.I and III and Group No. 571 Mosquito Mk.XVI
Old Warden Bedfordshire
1932
 

Originally opened as a private aerodrome in 1932 by Richard Shuttleworth. Came under the umbrella of the nationwide Civilian Repai Organisation, established by Lord Nuttfield to co-ordinate the repair, rebuild and conversion of operational aircraft. Now houses the Shuttleworth Collection of old classic aircraft.

Podington Bedfordshire
1942


Podington was originally built between 1941/42 as an RAF Bomber Command Station.This was almost immediately transferred to 8th USAAF on 19th April 1942. From 29th July 1942 to 7th August 1942, 60 Tropp Carrier Group, 28th Troop Carrier Squadron, with C-47s. flew from here. From August 1942 through to May 1943, 8th BC Combat Crew Replacement Unit were stationed here. For less than a month starting 18th August 1942 to 2nd September 1942, 301st BG personnel here using the station as a satellite to Chelveston. The airfield was then rebuilt with lengthened runways and for three months between September 1942 to November 1942, 15th BS were accomodated here with Bostons; they then moved to North Africa. On 30 April 1942 100th BG moved here from Thorpe Abbotts staying until 8th June 1943. On 11th September 1943 92nd BG ('Fames Favored Few') moved here from Alconbury with B-17s until to July 1945.

Although the airfield at Podington began to take shape in 1941, it would be another two years before it became fully operational as an Eighth Air Force heavy bomber base. Several units used it as a temporary base before the airfield was improved and runways extended and it was to be the oldest Bomb Group (92nd) that came to make Podington its home for the rest of the war.  

Operations started on 23rd September 1943 with two missions against the V1 rocket sites; all aircraft returned safely.  Losses were significant but so were the achievements and for the final five months of the war the 92nd piled up the number of operations with steady regularity, passing a milestone in April 1945 - its 300th operation.  On the 25th the Group was to fly its last mission, its 308th with the loss of one aircraft and crew bringing the total number of aircraft lost in action to 154; mostly from Podington.  They left for France in June that year.

 

Sibson Huntingdonshire
1940


The airfield was first used as Peterboroughs RLG training Naval pilots with Audaxes and Harts. The airfield was bombed in August 1940. The Oxfords of 14 SFTS were here from January to June 1941. The Oxfords and Tutors of No 2 CFS were here for a year from January 1941 to January 1942. The Tiger Moths of 17 and 25 EFTS were here from July 1941 until June 1942. Master IIs of 7 (P) AFU were here for two years from August 1942 to August 1944 day and night flying. It was the home of RAF. 21 Grp. AFU

Snailwell Cambridgeshire
1941


Opened March 1941 (Station 361). Originally claimed by No 268 Squdron Army Cooperation Comand who used Lysanders and then Curtiss Tomahawks. Brief usage was made of the airfield by Hurricanes of 56 Squadron in August 1941 as did Spitfires of 192 Squadron. From September 1941 to March 1942 the Tomahawk flew from here. March 1942 saw the arrival of the Westland Whirlwind of No 137 Squadron. At the end of March 1942 Typhoons of No 56 Squadron arrived. Sunday 4th October 1942 saw the arrival of Eighth Air Force, the 347th Fighter Squadron, 350th Fighter Group, arrived from Bushey Hallwith P-39 Airacobras and P-400s. Other groups based here included US 41st Base Complement Sq. MR & R, 51st Service Sq., , RAF 137 and 56 Sqdns, 309 (Polish) Sq., RAF 28 Grp. (Belgian) Initial Training School, 1426 Enemy Aircraft Flight (captured Luftwaffe aircraft).

Somersham Huntingdonshire  

RAF Q (dummy or decoy) site for Wyton, 138 and 161 Sqdns (Hudsons and Lysanders from Tempsford) for secret SOE operations. Originally the land formed part of Tithe Farm until the M.o.D. made it into an Airfield during the Second World War for the Pathfinder Squadron.

Steeple Morden Cambridgeshire
1940

The airfield started its career as a satellite for nearby Bassingbourn in late 1940 and was occupied by Wellingtons. Plans were drawn up by Fighter Command to use alternative airfields should the invasion of Southern England take place. Steeple Morden was selected to take aircraft from Northolt. The airfield was bombed twice with Wellingtons being damaged in the process. The base was used more for training while Bassingbourn's concrete runways were being laid so the airfield became home to Ansons and Lysanders too. Eventually they moved away and was handed over to the Americans who carried out construction work to make it into a bomber station. The 5th Photographic Group were the first Americans to see service at the base and they were commanded by Colonel Elliott Roosevelt, the US President's son. They used converted P-38s and were known as F-4s. They soon moved on and the base was used briefly by Blenheims of D Flight of 17 OTU.

It was realised that Steeple Morden was not really suitable for a Class A bomber airfield so it was relegated it to a fighter station. The 355th Fighter Group moved in with P-47Ds although it took some time for the unit to become operational because of the short supply of aircraft. After a slow start they were re-equipped with P-51s and went on to become one of the most successful fighter units of the war, strafing aircraft on the ground. Aircraft from here were also used to escort B-17s on a bombing mission on Polish oilfields, made possible by the use of drop tanks. The 355th's last mission was on 25th April 1945 by which time they had recorded 868 victories.

Tempsford Bedfordshire
1941

This airfield was constructed by John Laing & Son, with Balfour Beatty, and it was ready in December 1941 with the arrival of Wellingtons of No 11 Operational Training Unit; this was only temporary whilst their home base of Bassingbourn was being improved. Several other units came on a temporary basis including experimental and intelligence flights so it is perhaps not surprising that two Special Duties squadrons arrived and were to remain for the duration engaged on secret operations.   RAF 3 Grp. Bomber Ops., No 138 Squadron. arrived in the middle of March 1942, they were operating as the air arm of the Special Operations Executive and were equipped with Lysanders, Whitley Vs and a few Halifax IIs. 

During the second week of April No 161 Squadron. joined them from Graveley; they were newly formed and were engaged in the skilled duties of landing and picking-up 'passengers' behind enemy lines with the Lysanders which had very short take-off and landing space requirements.

During 1943 the Lockheed Hudsons were used increasingly for these hazardous pick-up operations; they were faster, quieter, of greater capacity and had more sturdy undercarriage than the Lysanders.  A fine book written by 161 Squadron.'s flight commander, Squadron. Ldr. Hugh Verity, D.F.C., entitled We Landed By Moonlight gives detailed accounts of the secret landings.

In a nearby barn there is an impromptu memorial to the SOE agents who flew from here during WW2. Major France Antelme OBE, was an SOE agent dropped into France from Tempsford. On his third operation he was captured by the Germans in 1944 and executed in 1945. Denis Barret, landed twice in France, in 1943 and 1944. While trying to assist an SAS unit which had become surrounded, was captured, and executed in Buchenwald just before wars end. George Frederick Nichols flew missions for 138 Squadron in 1944. He was posted to the base as flying officer in August 1944, flew nine missions and failed to return from the December 2nd mission to Denmark, he was flying a Stirling which was lost without trace. Sgt E Markson 2211419. 161 Squadron. Aircraft crashed near Cugny France all the crew killed, Aircraft Halifax. He was lost with all the Crew on the night of August 8/9th 1944 from Tempsford. Richard 'Dick' Wilkin RCAF, who flew with 138, was killed returning from Poland when his Halifax was shot down.

Thurleigh Bedfordshire
1941

The original airfield was built by W & C French Ltd in 1941.  Following some temporary allocations the Eighth Air Force were to be here for over three years. On 7th September 1942 the 306th Group started to arrive; with some of their B17s flying in the following week.  From October 1942, the 306th Group ("Reich Wreckers") mounted a long, arduous and very costly offensive from here.

By 1944 the 306th had been in action for almost 15 months and was nearing its 100th mission and having sustained many losses.  The Group finally completed their long war on 19th April 1945 which was their 342nd mission; the second highest for any B17 Group.  During its time at Thurleigh over 9,600 sorties had been flown with the loss of 171 aircraft in action and over 22,500 tons of bombs were dropped.

Twinwood Farm Bedfordshire
1941

The the grassed field was in use as landing ground for Oxfords or Cranfields SFTS until August 1941. By April 1942 it had three concrete runways and additional temporary buildings. It was then opened up on 9th April 1942 to Blenheims, Beaufighters, Beauforts and Mosquitos of  !2 Group, No 51 Operational Training Unit. It gained the name 'Twinwoods' after the farm nearby.

It was from this station that Glenn Miller made his last flight 15th December 1944. Even before that fateful December day in 1944 (the 15th) Twinwood Farm had established an association with Glen Miller and his American Band of the Supreme Allied Command as it was originally known.  It was based in Bedford in early July 1944 and they used the airfield on a couple of accessions as they undertook their exhausting tours.  They gave a  concert at the airfield on 27th August.

The order detailing Major Miller's journey to France for another tour was issued on 12th December but fog delayed departure and a friend offered to help him out with an aircraft. This was to be a Canadian-built Noordugn UC-64A Norsman.  It was a cold, rainy and foggy afternoon and Glen Miller said to the band's manager, Lt Don Hayes, as he was boarding the aircraft, "Haynsie, even the birds are grounded today". The aircraft took off at 1.55pm and was never seen again.

The airfield closed in June 1945.

Upwood Huntingdonshire
1918



RAF. No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group, Bomber Command Group No. 139 flying Mosquito Mks.XVI, XX, XXV and No. 156 flying Lancaster Mks.I and III.

Upwood’s aviation origins can be traced back to 1917 when land at Simmonds Farm, close to Upwood village was obtained for use by the Royal Flying Corps. Initially it was used as a night landing ground by 75 Squadron’s BE-2s. At this stage the airfield was named Bury (Ramsey). By the Summer of 1918 a number of huts and 170’ x 100’ hangars had been erected and the airfield renamed Upwood, coming under the auspices of 6th Brigade, Midland Area, 47th Home Defence Wing. Around the same time 191 Squadron moved in with its BE-2s and DH.6s, later converting to FE-2Bs. These were later followed by 190 Squadron’s Avro 504Ks.

A massive expansive of the RAF by 41 new squadrons in 1934 meant that nearly fifty new airfields would be required. Upwood benefited when it was announced that it would become the home to two medium bomber squadrons. Work began on buildings and airfield preparation and the buildings were completed just in time for the arrival on 1st March 1937 of seven Hawker Hinds of 52 Squadron. Later that day five Hawker Audaxes of 63 Squadron arrived. The Hinds were replaced in 1937 by Fairey Battles. Building work in 1937 included the three C-type hangars which still remain today, testimony indeed to the design and construction methods used.

With War being declared on 3rd September 1939, the Hinds and Auduxes departed to Kidlington and were replaced by 17OTU Blenheims from 90 Squadron which arrived from West Raynham on 16th September. This was the start of many operational changes at Upwood which saw a variety of types using the grass airfield including Fairey Battles, Airspeed Oxfords and Avro Ansons (which frequently used the perimeter tracks to fly from as the ground was frequently unusable). The construction of the three concrete runways started on 8th June 1943. This soon attracted the attention of the Americans and a USAAF B-17, short of fuel, landed on 9th October. A few weeks later five P-38s diverted in due to weather.

The base saw enemy action on 6th June 1940 at 03:00 when the airfield was bombed by a lone raider which caused one fatality and one injury. There are several documented cases of raids through the period on the airfield which resulted in many more casualties.

Mosquitos of 139 Squadron transferred from Wyton at the end of January ’44 and were followed two months later by Lancasters of 156 Squadron from Warboys. Tragey struck on 7th August when one of the Mosquitos crashed into the married quarters on the base, killing the crew and two people on the ground. 48 hours later a Lancaster, which was being debombed, exploded with the loss of seven and 21 injured.

Warboys Huntingdonshire
1941

RAF 156 Sq. PFF (Wellingtons, Lancasters), 1507 BAT, 1655, 128, 571 PF Navigational Training Units (Mosquitos). The construction of R.A.F. Warboys began in 1940, the airfield was designed to the congestion at Upwood and for the use of 17OTU Blenheims. It was a sattelite for Wyton. In July 1941 the first squadron to arrive was a detachment of Stirling's from 15 squadron, arriving from Wyton. The next squadron to arrive was 'D' Flight 17OTU which was based at Upwood and came to Warboys on the 15th December; 15 squadron left two days before 17OTU arrived. In August 1942 it became part of the new PFF, with 156 squadron flying Wellingtons, taking part in the first PFF operation. The first fully-operational squadron to arrive at Warboys was 156 squadron on the 5th August 1942. The squadron came from Alconbury with Wellingtons, and in the new year re-equipped with Lancasters. The next squadron was 1507, Beam Approach Training for the Bomber Command, but was only at Warboys from 13th March to 17th June 1943 equipped with Oxfords. After 1507 (BAT) left, the Stirlings, Lancasters, Halifaxes and Oxfords of the Pathfinder Force Navigation Training Unit arrived from Gransden Lodge. 9th march 1944 1655 (Mosquito) Training Unit arrived from Marham. October 1944 nineteen Lancasters of 428 squadron arrived form Middleton St. George after operations over Germany, but by 12th December 1944 1655 (Mosquito) Training Unit had left going to Upper Heyford. 1st January 1945 a smaller unit arrived, 1323 Flight (Automatic Gun Laying Turret) from Bourn.

Waterbeach Cambridgeshire
1941

RAF. No. 3 (Pathfinder Force) Group, Bomber Command Group No. 514 flying Lancaster Mks. I and III. built between 1939 and 1941 and stands on part of the lands of Waterbeach Abbey.

In March 1941, two Wellington Squadrons were moved to the Station and started bomber operations over Germany and occupied territory. In January 1942, these Squadrons went overseas and the Station became a Heavy Conversion Unit (H.C.U.) converting pilots from twin to multi-engine aircraft.

In August 1943, Waterbeach became a Bomber Base Head-quarters and, in addition to the H.C.U., it was responsible for operating No. 75 Squadron and No.196 Squadrons from the adjacent airfields of Mepal and Witchford. Towards the end of 1943, No 514 Squadron (Lancaster) moved to Waterbeach and continued to operate from here until April, 1945.

Unit

From

Date In

Date Out

To

Aircraft Flew

99 Sqdn Newmarket Heath

18.03.41

Feb '42

(India) Wellington I,II
26 Conversion Flight (formed)

05.10.41

02.01.42

(expanded into 1651 CU) Stirling
1651 Conversion Unit (formed)

02.01.42

21.11.43

Wratting Common Stirling I,II
215 Sqdn Stradishall

21.02.42

01.03.42

Harwell  
214 Sqdn Conversion Flight (formed)

07.04.42

02.05.42

Stradishall Stirling
15 Sqdn Conversion Flight Wyton

09.05.42

01.10.42

(disbanded into 1651 CU)  
214 Sqdn CF Stradishall

09.08.42

01.10.42

(disbanded into 1651 CU) Stirling
1665 Conversion Unit (formed)

01.05.43

06.06.43

Woolfox Lodge Stirling
1678 Heavy Conversion Unit Foulsham

23.11.43

15.06.44

(disbanded) Lancaster II
514 Sqdn Foulsham

23.11.43

22.08.45

(disbanded) Lancaster Mk. I,II,III
Westwood Huntingdonshire
1932

Known as either Westwood or Peterborough airfield. Virtually all of the services training aircraft flew from here: Hawker Harts and Audaxes, de Havilland Tiger Moths, Airspeed Oxfords, Miles Masters, Avro Ansons, American Harvards and occasionally the odd Hurricane or Spitfire. The airfield came to the forefront in December 1935 with the formation of No 7 Service Flying Training School. On 1st June 1942 the airfield saw the formation RAF 21 Group, 7 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit.

Witchford Cambridgeshire
1943

RAF. No. 3 (Pathfinder Force) Group, Bomber Command Group No. 115 flying Lancaster Mks. I and III

Wittering Huntingdonshire
1916

RAF 1, 23 and 313 Squadrons, 25, 151 and 610 Squadrons, 1453 Turbinlite Flight (Douglas Havocs), 266 Squadron (Rhodesian), 486 (NZ) Fighter Squadron, Air Fighting Development Unit, 787 RNAS, 181 Squadron (Beaufighters), 438 Squadron USAAF 55th FS of the 20th FG (P38 Lightnings). RAF 68 Squadron (Mosquitos).

Woburn Park Bedfordshire
1930's

Originally built for the use of Mary, the (Flying) Duchess of Bedford, in the 1930's. Commandeered by the RAF as No. 34 Satellite Landing Ground it was the largest ground of all. The landing strip ran uphill to the west of the Abbey from the lake at the south end of the Park. In 1941 Spitfires were housed here later followed by Halifaxes, Stirlings and the occasional Lancaster.

Wratting Common Cambridgeshire
1943

RAF. No. 3 (Pathfinder Force) Group, Bomber Command Group No. 195 flying Lancaster Mks. I and III

Wyton Huntingdonshire
1937

RAF. No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group, Bomber Command Group No. 128 flying Mosquito Mk.XVI and No. 163 flying Mosquito Mk.XXV

Bomber Command Groups Effective for these areas

3 Group. Headquarters - Exning, Suffolk.

SQN

AIRFIELD

AIRCRAFT TYPE

218

Chedburgh

Lancaster Mks. I and III

75

Mepal

Lancaster Mks. I and III

149

Methwold

Lancaster Mks. I and III

15

Mildenhall

Lancaster Mks. I and III

622

Mildenhall

Lancaster Mks. I and III

186

Stradishall

Lancaster Mks. I and III

90

Tuddenham

Lancaster Mks. I and III

138

Tuddenham

Lancaster Mks. I and III

514

Waterbeach

Lancaster Mks. I and III

115

Witchford

Lancaster Mks. I and III

195

Wratting Common

Lancaster Mks. I and III

8 Group. Headquarters - Castle Hill House, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

8 Group had been formed in August 1942 as a specialist target-marking force. Although formed of 20 squadrons at the time of this Battle Order, three of them (83, 97, and 627) were "on loan" to 5 Group, and do not appear in the listing for 8 Group.

SQN

AIRFIELD

AIRCRAFT TYPES

105

Bourn

Mosquito Mks.IX and XVI

162

Bourn

Mosquito Mks.XX and XXV

608

Downham Market

Mosquito Mks.XVI, XX, and XXV

635

Downham Market

Lancaster Mks.I and III

142

Gransden Lodge

Mosquito Mk.XXV

405

Gransden Lodge

Lancaster Mks.I and III (RCAF)

35

Graveley

Lancaster Mks.I and III

692

Graveley

Mosquito Mk.XVI

109

Little Staughton

Mosquito Mks.IX and XVI

582

Little Staughton

Lancaster Mks.I and III

7

Oakington

Lancaster Mks.I and III

571

Oakington

Mosquito Mk.XVI

139

Upwood

Mosquito Mks.XVI, XX, XXV

156

Upwood

Lancaster Mks.I and III

128

Wyton

Mosquito Mk.XVI

163

Wyton

Mosquito Mk.XXV

5 March 2005

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