World War II
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
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
Also based at the airfield were Tiger Moths, Albemarles, Whitleys and Horsa
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
The station was also used by Mosquito fighter bomber squadrons when, in 1945, the airfield became a satellite of
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.
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
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