RAF Welford

Summary

RAF Welford
RAF Welford Park
USAAF Station AAF-474
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svgNinth Air Force - Emblem (World War II).svgUnited States Air Forces in Europe.svg
Part of United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE)
Near Welford, Berkshire in England
Welford Depot from the air - geograph.org.uk - 2110284.jpg
RAF Welford
501st Combat Support Wing.png
RAF Welford is located in Berkshire
RAF Welford
RAF Welford
Shown within Berkshire
Coordinates51°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
TypeRoyal Air Force station
CodeWF
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Air Force
(1943,1945–1948)
United States Army Air Forces
(1943–1945)
United States Air Force
(1955—present)
Site history
Built1943 (1943)
In use1943–1948, 1955—present
Garrison information
Garrison420th Munitions Squadron
Airfield information
Elevation147 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 RG20 7EX.[1] The station 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.[2]

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 between junctions 13 and 14 to the west of the A34 junction with the M4.[3] The access road from the M4 is signposted "Works Unit Only". The 1 mile marker sign did have the distinctive red border of a defence establishment until changes made in 2015 and a photo refers.[3][4]

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.[5]

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:[6]

  • 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.[6]

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:[7]

The 435th TCG was assigned to the 53d Troop Carrier Wing. In early February 1945 the group was moved to an Advanced Landing Ground at Breigny France (A-48).[7]

USAF use

After being placed on a care and maintenance basis after the war, the station re-opened as the home of the 7531st Ammunition Squadron in September 1955.[8] In 2009 USAF staffing at Welford was reduced as part of USAF wide budgetary adjustments.[9][10] The munitions base's function is described as "at its busiest when the US government deploys bombers to a forward air station at RAF Fairford".[11] The bombers at RAF Fairford can include B-1, B-2 and B-52.[12]

There are three public photos, possibly taken in 2007,[3] and a September 2014 aerial photo of the depot.[13]

In May 2019 the USAF moved half a million pounds of net explosives weight from Newport Port, South Wales to RAF Welford.[14] The vessel involved was the US Ocean ship Ocean Globe.[15]

Based units

Welford is now under the command of the 420th 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.[16]

See also

References

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

Citations

  1. ^ "RG20 7EX - Check My Postcode".
  2. ^ Milmo, Cahal (25 January 2014). "Unknown territory: America's secret archipelago of UK bases". Independent. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "UK Secret Bases".
  4. ^ "No exit". roads.org.uk. 5 April 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  5. ^ "RAF Welford". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  6. ^ a b "315th Troop Carrier Group". American Air Museum in Britain. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  7. ^ a b "435th Troop Carrier Group". American Air Museum in Britain. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  8. ^ "RAF Welford". Heritage Gateway. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "RAF Welford – RAF Fairford".
  12. ^ "RAF Fairford maps, postcode, frequencies, flight tracker - UK Military Bases".
  13. ^ "KINGDOM. SEPTEMBER. 23. Aerial photograph of RAF Welford ammunition".
  14. ^ "501st Combat Support Wing orchestrates UK's largest munitions supply movement of the decad".
  15. ^ "OCEAN GLOBE, General Cargo Ship - Details and current position - IMO 9419008 MMSI 538009118 - VesselFinder".
  16. ^ "RAF Croughton / RAF Welford / RAF Fairford". 501st Combat Support Wing. Retrieved 27 November 2021.

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

  • 420th Munitions Squadron
  • - History of RAF Welford