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Country Wellingtons

Runway  RAF Little Horwood

The Monday Photo

During WW2 tons of hardcore were delivered by train and lorry to Greenway Farm in Buckinghamshire, from bomb damaged London. It was all for the foundations of the runways, roads, and dispersal areas of a new airfield, RAF Little Horwood.

On 2nd September 1942 the airfield went operational, and this is one end of the main runway, made 150 feet wide and 2,000 yards long.

There was just enough room for it between two back roads. At this end the runway stops just 125 feet from the road between Winslow and Little Horwood. The far end nearly reaches the Great Horwood to Winslow road. There were two other, shorter runways, the three crossing each other at a 60 degree angle; the standard arrangement for these airfields.

Maps from after the war show no sign of the buildings of Greenway Farm, built in the middle of what was to become the airfield.

RAF Little Horwood was used by an Operational Training Unit, OTU 26, to train crews for night missions in the twin engined Wellington bomber. Aircraft also flew from there on “Nickelling” missions, dropping propaganda leaflets over occupied France.

There are two well known local crashes connected with the airfield. On 11th April 1943 a Wellington Bomber on night training approached this end of the main runway in heavy fog to make a third attempt at landing.

The plane came in too low and crashed into the water tower at Mursley; the crew of four were killed. There’s a memorial plaque by the tower and the crew are remembered each year on Armistice Day.

At Winslow in the early hours of 7th August that year another Wellington from RAF Little Horwood crashed into Winslow High Street, on their second attempt to land at the airfield. Of the crew of five only the navigator survived, but 13 civilians died in the crash.

I don’t know how many other casualties there were from RAF Little Horwood, but I do know that the RAF lost a total of over 8,000 men, in training accidents or during non-operational flying over the course of the war.

There’s not much left of the runways now but quite a lot of the perimeter track is still there. It’s hard to tell how useable it is; it’s on private land and I’m not able to explore it.

This is just one of several Second World War training airfields in North Bucks.

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