Royal Air Force Station Grove or RAF Grove is a former Royal Air Force station near Grove, Oxfordshire.[a] The airfield is located approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) northwest of Wantage; about 55 miles (89 km) west-northwest of London
USAAF Station AAF-519
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
United States Army Air Forces
|Elevation AMSL||282 ft / 86 m|
Location in Oxfordshire
Opened in 1942, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces. During the Second World War, it was used primarily as a reconnaissance airfield. It was handed back to the RAF in 1947. From 1955, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) used part of the airfield to serve the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at nearby Harwell.
Today the remains of the airfield are located on private property being used as agricultural fields and for a housing development known as Wellington Gate, after the RAF Vickers Wellington, a British bomber which flew from Grove airfield during the Second World War.
The RAF left Grove in September 1943 to allow the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Ninth Air Force to use the base as a staging ground for the planned Normandy landings. Grove was known as USAAF Station AAF-519 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location.
Beginning in August 1943, Grove was used by the 3rd Tactical Air Depot of IX Air Service Command, repairing A-20 Havocs and P-61 Black Widows. Starting on 31 October, the 31st Transport Group, IX Air Service Command used the airfield with C-47 Skytrains with the mission of transporting cargo and personnel between IX Air Force airfields in the UK. The 31st TG consisted of the 87th, 313th and 314th Transport Squadrons. Air Transport Command had the 310th and 325th Ferrying Squadrons also attached. After D-Day, the Group was impressed for air ambulance and general theatre transport duties until moving to France in September 1944.
In October and November 1945, the 13th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (7th Reconnaissance Group) used the airfield before returning to the United States. In addition, the 36th Bombardment Squadron from RAF Alconbury in Huntingdonshire used the airfield after the closure of Alconbury in October 1945. The squadron flew occasional transport missions until they returned to the United States in December 1945, ending American use of the station.
RAF Grove was returned to the RAF in 1946. After the war, the airfield was used for surplus aircraft disposal. In 1953, the RAF 431 Equipment Depot serving the 2nd Tactical air force in Germany was transferred from Hamburg to Grove.
From 1955, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) used part of the airfield to serve the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at nearby Harwell. In 1995, former UKAEA housing including that at Grove were sold in their entirety to the Welbeck Estate Group and, following extensive refurbishment, were sold to local buyers.
In aerial photography, the airfield runways still are quite evident, even after their removal over 50 years ago. The wartime perimeter track is now gone.
After the airfield was closed, the entire area has been taken over by agriculture or was used a grass pasture.
In 2017, Vale of White Horse District Council granted outline planning approval to Persimmon Homes to develop the northeast part of the former airfield and build a large housing estate on the property, called Wellington Gate after the RAF Vickers Wellington, a British twin-engined, long-range medium bomber which flew from Grove airfield during the Second World War. In 2018, Grove Parish Council suggested as street names for the first phase of the development: Wellington, Windsor, Whitley, Horsa, Dakota, Liberator, Sentinel, Mustang and Norseman - all names associated with the aircraft, both British and American, that flew from Grove airfield during the Second World War.
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