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Thread: Yatesbury

  1. #1

    Default Yatesbury

    Some developent looks likely at the former RAF Yatesbury, including renovation of the old hangars (dating back to 1916) and the old officers mess.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wilt ... 360327.stm
    and
    http://www.yatesbury.org/

    Richard

  2. #2
    OTBC Paul Francis's Avatar
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    The two Royal Flying Corps training aerodromes at Yatesbury were originally built in 1916, to house two reserve (training) squadrons at each station. At this time, Netheravon (which replaced Larkhill as an RFC school in June 1913) and Upavon were the only other RFC training aerodromes within Wiltshire. In the training role, both sites at Yatesbury performed a vitally important function, not only in supplying pilots for the RFC WW1 campaign in France, but also Russian Army cadet pilots and personnel as well. Perhaps one of the most successful squadrons operating in Europe, 28 Squadron, had trained here during September and October 1917 when re-equipping with the Sopwith Camel. W.G Barker (1894-1930) had been carrying out corps reconnaissance training at Yatesbury and joined this squadron on the day it left Yatesbury for France. He soon won the Military Cross and the DSO and only one year later while on a refresher course for the Sopwith Snipe with 201 Squadron, he was awarded the Victoria Cross .

    From 1935 as part of the Government initiated Air Training Scheme, the Bristol Aeroplane Company Ltd., were awarded an Air Ministry contract to train pilots for a career in the Royal Air Force. The former WW1 western aerodrome at Yatesbury was redeveloped to house the school (No. 10 Elementary Reserve & Flying Training School). The design of the new buildings was of a high standard and were described in the 19 November 1936 issue of 'Flight' magazine as 'they (the Bristol Aeroplane Company Ltd) have unhesitatingly made at Yatesbury, a model school whose pattern few will equal and none will better' .

    As the training of RAF pilots gathered momentum during 1937, the school was further expanded with the construction of additional accommodation funded by the Bristol Aeroplane Company. With the approach of war during 1939, responsibility for new buildings changed to that of the Air Ministry to bring the establishment up to a wartime standard.

    During 1938/39, RAF Training Command had built a major wireless training school on the former WW1 eastern aerodrome and, as a result the Bristol Wireless Flight commenced airborne-instruction using de Havilland Dragon Rapides as 'flying classrooms'. With the increase of flying activity for the wireless school during 1940, No. 10 Elementary Flying Training School (as it became on the outbreak of WW2) transferred its operations to Weston-super-Mare, having passed 627 pupils at Yatesbury.

    Two other sites consisting of a searchlight site and a satellite landing ground, both north of Yatesbury village were used in conjunction with the main aerodrome.

    The second Victoria Cross won by an airman trained at Yatesbury went to Sergeant John Hannah (1921-1947). He was a trainee wireless operator at No. 2 Electrical & Wireless School during September 1939, and was posted to 83 Squadron as a wireless operator/air gunner on Handley Page Hampdens. The squadron took part on a raid on invasion barges at Antwerp on the night of 15/16 September 1940. Hannahís aircraft was damaged by flak and although badly burnt he extinguished a fire and helped the pilot regain control of the aircraft.

    Perhaps the most famous pilot to have had elementary training at Yatesbury was Guy Gibson (1918-1944) of 617 Squadron, who won the Victoria Cross in 1943 for his part in leading the raid on the Mohne and Eder dams.

    A total of 18,500 wireless operators were given air training at Yatesbury, but within eight weeks of VE Day the air section had closed down. Its place was taken by No.2 EFTS which operated from here until 1947 when this unit left and flying ceased at Yatesbury.

    The wireless school in various forms continued until 1965 when it finally moved to Cosford, bringing to a close an aviation related history at Yatesbury lasting a combined total of nearly 34 years.

    Today there are strong aviation links with Yatesbury village. An important aspect of the history of Yatesbury can be found in the churchyard of All Saints Church where there are several graves of men killed while stationed at here. These include personnel from the RFC, RAF, and foreign forces such as those of Australia, Russia and Poland.

  3. #3

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    Thanks for the info Paul, here are a few photos from my visit last week.







  4. #4

  5. #5
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    Default Re: RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire

    The ceiling on the hangar on the corner as you enter the site was totally collapsed the last time I was there. I do recall marching in all weathers from the main camp to take the workshops phase of a Fitters Course there. There were Lancasters and Lincolns on the the pan and Canberras and mock-ups of the cockpits if V-Bombers inside.

    There was a Meteor hybrid in the collapsed hangar, it had a T7 body with an F4 tail and had been used by Martin Baker for testing ejection seats. (I believe it may be at Cosford in the odd-balls collection).
    The large trees on the corner used to have rookery in it and when the NAAFI van came you could easily loose your bun to a rook who had obviously watched Spartacus. The complete Rookery occasionally took off and practised carpet bombing on the NAAFI queue.
    The hangar area was guarded by airmen from the Yatesbury main camp and it was repeatedly rumoured that a local girl "Sweaty Betty" came round after the pubs had closed and gave solace to people in the Lancaster. I didn't benefit from this service but I always looked out for her.
    Last edited by Richard Flagg; 09-06-2014 at 19:14. Reason: Removed dead links

  6. #6
    Senior Member TommyUSA's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire

    What is this structure??

    There is a chimney attached to the hangar at Yatesbury that is being restored. However, it looks like the chimney opens into the low brick building in the foreground of this photo. What was it? Some kind of kiln or something?



    As an aside, I can't believe they're trying to restore it, because it is mostly gone - no roof, no walls, etc.

    TommyU

  7. #7

    Default Re: RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire

    TOmmyUSA - that is the Aircraft Repair Shed, at least thats what I have put up on my website! I am not sure what the plan is with it, it looks to be in a similar condition to when I saw it last!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire

    I had forgotten but wasn't the TV play called Gor about a chimera filmed in the old Officer's Mess here (before reconstruction)?
    If this was RAF Yatesbury detached from the main camp where was RAF Cherhill?
    My recollection of going on an exercise was that the buildings shown were part of that station.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Yatesbury

    I was recently at Yatesbury and the work on the site has stopped and has regressed in some areas. I made an enquiry and the answer is below.

    In answer to your observations at Yatesbury, you are correct in assuming that all is not well with the development. The developer who is a Jordanian gentleman backed by Royal Bank of Scotland has halted the development for a year or until the property market picks up again. Whether this means that the bank has withdrawn funding on the basis that the investment risk is too great in the current climate is anyone's guess but I am sure that kind of thinking is behind the decision. However, I dont think the owner/developer is the kind of person to abandon the project altogether, so we can only live in hope that the project is completed when the market picks up again.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Yatesbury

    I thought I would add a Google Earth overlay that I did for someone whilst helping them research their Uncle's service there.



    Nick

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