OTHER WARTIME AIRFIELDS AROUND WINKTON ADVANCED LANDING GROUND

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3 miles (5 kms) North was BISTERNE

Bisterne was, like Winkton, an advanced landing ground and was laid out in the Avon Valley in September 1943. In March 1944 the station was opened by the USAAFs 371 fighter group and its three Thunderbolt squadrons. The appearance and task of Bisterne was near identical to that of Winkton, but its initial operations were curtailed when the runways and taxyways became badly rutted and the airfield was closed twice for reconstruction. The 371st moved to Ibsley to continue operations, returning twice before the airfield was in a satsfactory condition. On May 14th 1944, they recommenced permanent operations from Bisterne. On June 23rd the squadrons moved to France and Bisterne closed to be reinstated as agriculatural land.

The airfield seems to have been given more facilities than Winkton, with five maintenance dispersals with at least two of them equipped with blister hangers and one with a larger temporary hanger. One of the Blister hangers survives, relocated to the village of Crow nearby where it houses the New Forest Owl Centre. For a detailed description of the operations at Bisterne and its impact on the local area, I recommend a book published in 1998 by Alan Brown called "They flew from the Forest",


3 miles (5 kms) to the South was CHRISTCHURCH

Christchurch was an established civil aerodrome before the war having been opened in 1935 for general and light aviation use, however by 1939 it was also home to a number of small but successful airlines operating regional seasonal services. In September 1939 on the outbreak of war the civil aerodrome closed, but was soon reopened as a military airfield as the home of the special duties flight of the Research Establishment at Worth Matravers which was leading the very secret work on the development of radar. In1940 the Airspeed company occupied a shadow factory on the airfield to build Oxford aircraft and Horsa gliders. In 1943 the USAAF laid a mesh runway and the aifield became home to the 405th Fighter Bomber group and their Thunderbolts between April and June 1944. After the Americans left the Airspeed factory was the main source of operations at the site, and this continued after the war with the construction of the Ambassador Airliner and the Vampire jet fighter for De Havilland. The factory (and Airspeed) eventually became part of De Havilland and built the Venom and Sea Vixen jet fighters before final closure in 1967. For a detailed history of Christchurch aerodrome see the book "Wings over Dorset".


3 miles (5kms) East was HOLMSLEY SOUTH

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photo courtesy of Andrew F Wilson, possibly a RCAF 418 (City of Edmonton ) Squadron Mk 6 Mosquito night fighter at Holmsley South.

Holmsley was built between 1941 and 1942, and at short notice just as the first RAF units were arriving, Liberators of the USAAF's 8th Air Force 330th squadron of 93 Bomb Wing flew in to supplement maritime patrol and anti submarine operations. During 1942 the airfield became a centre for conversion training on RAF Halifax bombers a role which continued until the work up began in 1944 in advance of D Day. Then the airfield's resident squadrons changed and Spitfires, Typhoons, Mustangs and Mosquitos flew in to operate from the airfield. After the invasion the tactical fighter units relocated to France and were replaced by United States B26 Marauder aircraft. In the late summer the airfield was transferred to Transport Command until its closure in 1946. For a fuller history of RAF Holmsley South I recommend Leslie R White's book "The Holmsley Story".


5 miles (8kms) West was HURN

Of all the airfields of the region, only Hurn remains as an airfield. It is now called Bournemouth International Airport, and is operated by a private company who are progressively investing in the airport as it expands. The shorter runway may close, but the newly extended east west runway can support long haul flights holiday flights to Florida and the Carribbean. The airport has profited from the operations of the new generation of no frills airlines who are driving the growth in passengers, and from the commercial success of many air freight, aviation service and maintenance companies. The newly opened Bournemouth Air  Museum is at Bournemouth Airport, whose exhibits include jet fighters of the 50s and 60s, all preserved in or being restored to, flying condition.

Hurn was opened in 1941, and first hosted the special duty flight which relocated from Christchurch. For the next few years, Hurn's operations were dedicated to the development of glider operations and as a base for airborne forces. Prior to D Day the airborne forces moved inland and the airfield became a base for Mosquitos and Typhoons in advance of the invasion. When they moved to France, American B 26 bombers and Northrop Black Widow night fighters replaced them before they too moved to the European mainland. In 1944 the airfield was handed over to the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) as a training base, and the airport assumed the role of the long haul land plane airport for London until Heathrow opened in 1946 (the flying boats flew from Calshot in the East and Poole in the West).

In the 1950s, Vickers aircraft opened a production line at Hurn for the Viking airliner and the Viscount turbo prop airliner and used the airport as the flight trials base for theValiant strategic jet bomber.The factory became part of the British Aircraft Corporation and produced the BAC1-11 jet airliner through the 1960s before eventual closure.

Since the late 1940's the airfield has been the home of the School (now College) of Air Traffic Control and since the early 1960s both the College and the Air Traffic Control Experimental Unit (later Evaluation Unit). In recent years that latter unit has been merged with other parts of the Air Traffic Control Research and Development organisation to form the Air Traffic Management Development Centre.