RAF Welford

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RAF Welford
RAF Welford Park
USAAF Station AAF-474
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgPatch9thusaaf.pngUnited States Air Forces in Europe.png
Part of United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE)
Near Welford, Berkshire in England
US Air Force 120411-F-NV814-132 Welford Airmen at work.jpg
USAF munitions being loaded into a container in 2012
501st Combat Support Wing.png
RAF Welford is located in Berkshire
RAF Welford
RAF Welford
Shown within Berkshire
Coordinates 51°28′06″N 001°24′13″W / 51.46833°N 1.40361°W / 51.46833; -1.40361Coordinates: 51°28′06″N 001°24′13″W / 51.46833°N 1.40361°W / 51.46833; -1.40361
Type Royal Air Force station
Code WF
Site information
Owner Ministry of Defence
Operator Royal Air Force
(1943,1945–1948)
United States Army Air Forces
(1943–1945)
United States Air Force
(1955—present)
Site history
Built 1943 (1943)
In use 1943–1948, 1955—present
Garrison information
Garrison 420th Munitions Squadron
Airfield information
Elevation 147 metres (482 ft) AMSL
Runways
Direction Length and surface
00/00  Asphalt
00/00  Asphalt
00/00  Asphalt

Royal Air Force Welford or more simply RAF Welford is an active Royal Air Force station in Berkshire, England. The airfield is located approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) northwest of Newbury; about 50 miles (80 km) west-southwest of London

Opened in 1943, it was used during the Second World War by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces. During the war it was used primarily as a transport airfield. After the war it was closed in 1946 and placed in reserve status. As a result of the Cold War, the station was reopened in 1955 as a munitions depot by the United States Air Force

Today it is one of the largest ammunition compounds for the United States Air Force in Western Europe for heavy munitions.[1]

Current Units

Welford is now under the command of the 420 Munitions Squadron, and comes under the command of the 501st Combat Support Wing, with headquarters at RAF Alconbury, which provides support to the Geographically Separated Units (GSU)s in the United Kingdom.

Location

RAF Welford is located in West Berkshire with a dedicated and rarely used access road leading to the station from the eastbound M4 motorway to the west of the A34 junction with the M4. There is no access from the westbound motorway, so traffic leaving the station for the west must first travel east to the A34 junction before heading west.

The access road from the M4 is enigmatically signposted "Works Unit Only", but had the distinctive red border of a defence establishment. The signage has remained in military red and white colours.

History

RAF Welford, May 1944. The CG-4 Gliders and C-47s of the 435th Troop Carrier Group trying to find room with the aircraft being parked wherever space can be found, one month before the D-Day invasion of France.
Horsa glider at Welford, May 1944.

USAAF use

In October 1943 the airfield was allocated to Ninth Air Force IX Troop Carrier Command (TCC). While under USAAF control, Welford was known as USAAF Station AAF-474 for security reasons during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. Its Station-ID was "WF".

315th Troop Carrier Group

The 315th Troop Carrier Group arrived at Welford on 6 November 1943 from RAF Aldermaston flying C-47s and C-53s. Its squadrons and fuselage codes were:

  • 34th Troop Carrier Squadron (NM)
  • 43d Troop Carrier Squadron (UA)
  • 309th Troop Carrier Squadron (M6)
  • 310th Troop Carrier Squadron (4A)

The 315th TCG was part of the 52nd Troop Carrier Wing. On 7 February 1944 the group was transferred to RAF Spanhoe.

435th Troop Carrier Group

As part of the IX Troop Carrier Command's desire to have its C-47 groups commence training with paratroops of the 101st Airborne Division deployed in the Salisbury Plain area, the squadrons of the 435th Troop Carrier Group arrived at Welford on 25 January 1944 from RAF Langar flying C-47s and C-53s. Its squadrons and fuselage codes were:

The 435th TCW was assigned to the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing. In early February 1945 the group was moved to an Advanced Landing Ground at Breigny France (A-48).

USAF use

In 2009 USAF staffing at Welford was reduced as part of USAF wide budgetary adjustments.[2][3]

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

Citations

  1. ^ Milmo, Cahal (25 January 2014). "Unknown territory: America's secret archipelago of UK bases". Independent. Retrieved 17 February 2016. 
  2. ^ Master Sgt. Kenneth C. Burnett (9 September 2009). "An end of an era – M117 bombs depart RAF Welford". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Fairford transition – Questions and Answers". U.S. Air Force. 6 January 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2012. RAF Welford has reached a steady state following a similar transformation process last year. Now aligned under the 422 ABG, its future is secure. 

Bibliography

  • Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK airfields of the Ninth: then and now, London : Battle of Britain Prints International, ISBN 0-900913-80-0
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983) Air Force combat units of World War II, Washington, D.C. : Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-02-1

External links

  • RAF Welford in photos
  • A History of RAF Welford & Greenham Common
  • Pilot's Eye Views of RAF Welford – Aerial photos (April 2007) on Part 4 of UK Secret Bases website
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