Contact Us Site Map

World War II Airfield 


Operational History

The World War II Airfield at Hampstead Norreys was built in 1940 on a plateau above the village. Originally built as an RAF Bomber Command (No. 15 Operational Training Unit) Station it was operational from the mid 1940’s until hostilities ceased in 1945.

Bomber Command was formed in 1936 and was responsible for all the bombing activities of the RAF. It found especial fame when its aircraft were used for the many notorious night-time air raids over Germany and occupied Europe.

Wellington Bomber

The Hampstead aerodrome was home to several squadrons of Wellington bombers; many of which were ferried out to Egypt, via Gibraltar and Malta, for use in the Middle East Campaign. The Wellington was affectionately known as the 'Wimpey' by the loyal crews, which flew many of its defining and
famous operations.



Tiger Moth
Also based at the airfield were Tiger Moths, Albemarles, Whitleys and Horsa gliders.

Many pilots were trained here in preparation for the D-Day Landings and in the latter part of the war the airfield became a glider training base.

The station was also used by Mosquito fighter bomber squadrons when, in 1945, the airfield became a satellite of RAF Harwell.



The Hampstead Norreys airfield was bombed on September 16, 1940 by the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain Campaign when 3 bombs fell on the runways. On 4th March 1941 a Wellington Bomber came under attack from a German fighter as it approached the airfield to land.

The airfield was also subjected to a heavy assault, on the 12th May 1941  when 10 High Explosive bombs and 100 Incendiaries devices landed in a direct hit.  Some aircraft were destroyed and the flare path and the southern taxiway were heavily damaged. There were no reports of any causalities.

Village Life

The opening of the aerodrome in 1940 had quite a large impact on the sleepy little backwater of Hampstead Norreys. The deployment of many hundreds of young airmen, who were based at the airfield, meant that both the social and economic life of the village thrived. Many local people found employment with the arrival of the airbase and certainly the social life of the village was enhanced with the many lively dances and other social events which were organised. Many fond memories are still recalled by those who enjoyed jiving or ‘jitty bugging’ the night away!

There was also a significant impact on the local railway station. The huge increase in railway traffic, resulting from the large movement of troops and equipment, meant that the single line track was incapable of meeting the demand. In 1942 the track was extended, and other improvements made, to increase the capacity of the line and the length of trains it could handle. . An additional ‘down’ line, platform and signal box were added at this time.

Finally . . .

 In 1945 the Occupation Training Unit moved out and the airbase became an ammunition store.

Today very little of the wartime station remains; there are four remaining pillboxes, evidence of several air raid shelters and part of a bomb storage unit.
However, the site still retains a link with aviation with a farm strip used by a Tiger Moth biplane and there is VOR beacon, which is mainly used to guide commercial air traffic to and from Heathrow.