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Upwood & The Raveleys History Pages

RAF Upwood

RAF Upwood originated in September 1917 when the War Department requisitioned Hill Farm, then owned by Lord de Ramsey, for use as an Emergency Landing Ground. The airfield was later used as a Home Defence 1st Class Night Landing Ground for BE2 aircraft of 7 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. By the summer of 1918 permanent huts and five large hangars had been constructed and the site renamed Upwood Airfield, under 6th Brigade, Midland Area of the 47th Home Defence Wing of the newly formed Royal Air Force. When World War I ended the airfield reverted to agricultural use with the buildings being salvaged by local farmers.
1955 Lincoln from Upwood in Kenya
Lincoln from RAF Upwood - 1955
RAF Camp 1983

The Royal Air Force returned to Upwood Airfield in January 1937 when Squadrons 52 and 63, equipped with Hawker Hind and Audax bi-planes, were located there. Squadrons 90 and 53, equipped with Bristol Blenheims, replaced 52 and 63 Squadrons by February 1940 - their main mission to train RAF personnel for bombing missions. These two units later merged to form 17 Operational training Unit (OTU).

In September 1940, No.11 Beam Approach Training (BAT) Flight unit was formed at Upwood, with emphasis on bad weather and night flying training.

Joseph Jakobs was parachuted in to spy on RAF Upwood in Jan 1941. Breaking his ankle on landing he was easily captured and eventually imprisoned in the Tower of London becoming the last known person to be executed in the Tower.

By April 1943 the airfield came under No. 8 PFF (Pathfinders) Group but as the grass runways were frequently waterlogged, upgrading work was required.

Entrance to RAF Upwood

Three new concrete runways were constructed by October 1943, allowing the first of the Pathfinder Squadrons, No. 139 (Jamaica), to use the airfield the following January. From this time forward, Upwood Airfield was home to 139 Squadron equipped with Mosquitoes as well as 156 Squadron with Lancaster bombers.

At the end of the Second World War, 156 Squadron was relocated at Wyton whilst 139 Squadron remained at Upwood until February 1946. After this it was used as a training centre for some time and was later leased to the USAF. It is now closed, although USAF has retained a medical facility on site. The housing has been sold and some of the hangars have been converted for use by Turbine Motor Works Ltd. There are ambitious plans to redevelop the rest of the base.

Upwood Canberra's
Canberras from RAF Upwood
Above text courtesy of Upwood & Raveleys Local History Group

Further Information & Useful Links
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World War I airmen killed on night flying exercise from RAF Upwood
Parachuted in to spy on RAF Upwood & the last person to be executed in the Tower
This independent site is full of information and photos. Regularly updated.
Ramsey 1940s Weekend Website for the annual historic re-enactment weekend held at RAF Upwood
RAF Upwood section of the main RAF website dedicated to Bomber Command
Wartime Memories Project Brief accounts of RAF Upwood
Cambs Community Archives Network Various photos of RAF Upwood, including personnel
Upwood In Pictures Website Photos of the derelict base
RAF Upwood - Urban Exploration in Hunts More photos of the derelict base
British Pathe FilmArchive Newsreel of sonic boom testing at RAF Upwood
RAF Upwood Regeneration Plans of proposed redevelopment of RAF Upwood
Turbine Motor Works Ltd Website for current user of the hangars at RAF Upwood
Nene Valley Gliding Club Website for gliding club which uses land next to RAF Upwood
Aix-ARG Archive Ltd Archive & research company to be based at RAF Upwood's guardroom