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History of RAF Woodvale

RAF Woodvale is the RAF’s only active airfield in Lancashire and was originally built as a fighter airfield for the defence of Merseyside following the winter 1940-41 raids, the airfield was officially opened on the 7th December 1941 after the first runway was ready by October 1941, living quarters at the start were very primitive and incomplete, by the time the airfield was constructed the threat of attacks on Merseyside by enemy aircraft was virtually non existent.

The first squadron to arrive was No 308 squadron on the 12th December 1941, and this was the start of many squadrons to visit to rest and re equip at Woodvale, a number of target towing and calibration flights also used the station. No 776 squadron (Royal Navy) brought some of their target tug aircraft over from Speke in May 1942 for use of the nearby gunnery range at HMS Charlotte. In early 1943 a number of Typhoon squadrons came to Woodvale to work up on the new fighter, later in 1943 No 322 (Dutch) formed at Woodvale.

A detachment of No 12 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit arrived to lodge in the spring of 1944 and further target tug aircraft arrived in the summer of 1944 by the arrival of a detachment of No 650 squadron from RAF Cark.

Woodvale was also used by a lot of American aircraft bringing personnel to the Rest and Recuperation Centre in nearby by Southport, in October 1944 a B-24 crashed on the airfield killing five of the twenty occupants, at the end of the war POW’s were flown direct into Woodvale for a rest break before being shipped home.

After the cessation of hostilities in Europe the airfield was handed over to the Royal Navy and became a satellite (tender) to RNAS Burscough and was known as “HMS Ringtail II”, the Navy stayed at Woodvale until January 1946 when the airfield was handed back to the RAF and used as a Motor Transport Depot.

After the reformation of the AuxAF The first flying unit to arrive was No 611 (West Lancs) squadron in July 1946 with Spitfires, in early 1951 the main runway was extended and the squadron converted to Meteors until the squadron moved to Hooton Park on the Wirral to join No 610 (Cheshire) squadron.

Woodvale was  then used by  a number of training units along with The Temperature and Humidity (THUM) flight which under took daily weather flights after their arrival from Hooton Park in  July 1951, the flight originally used Spitfires and then Mosquitoes until the flight was disbanded in May 1959. Woodvale was also the homer of No 5 Civilian anti Aircraft Co Operation Unit from December 1957 until it disbanded in 1971.

The airfield has been cleared of a lot of buildings and the remainder have been mostly re clad and is currently in use by Liverpool University Air Squadron, Manchester & Salford University Air Squadron, No 10 Air Experience Flight, No 611 (Woodvale) squadron ATC, HQ Merseyside Air Wing ATC, Woodvale Aviation Co and the West Lancs Aero Club.

No 315 (Polish) squadron at Woodvale with Polish Navy visitors

No 315 (Polish) squadron at Woodvale with Polish Navy visitors

Below follows a list of squadron movements through Woodvale,

 

SQUADRON/FLIGHT No

DATE IN

DATE  OUT

SERVICE

COMMENTS

308

12/12/1941

02/04/1942

RAF

 

315

02/04/1942

05/09/1942

RAF

 

285

14/04/1942

27/08/1943

RAF

Detachment

776

16/05/1942

07/04/1945

FAA

Detachment

256

04/06/1942

23/04/1943

RAF

 

317

05/09/1942

13/02/1943

RAF

 

116

16/11/1942

10/09/1943

RAF

"C" Flight

195

09/02/1943

13/05/1943

RAF

 

501

05/05/1943

Jun-43

RAF

 

198

14/05/1943

05/06/1943

RAF

 

167

12/06/1943

12/06/1943

RAF

Disbanded renumbered 322 squadron

322

12/06/1943

30/12/1943

RAF

 

No 9 Group Communications Flight

05/08/1943

26/08/1943

RAF

 

256

25/08/1943

25/09/1943

RAF

Detachment

285

27/08/1943

19/11/1944

RAF

 

222

30/12/1943

14/02/1944

RAF

 

313

06/01/1944

10/01/1944

RAF

 

316

15/02/1944

Apr-44

RAF

 

219

27/02/1944

Feb-44

RAF

 

No 12 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit

21/03/1944

16/08/1944

RAF

 

63

27/03/1944

28/05/1944

RAF

 

650

18/05/1944

26/05/1944

RAF

"B" Flight

63

03/07/1944

30/08/1944

RAF

 

577

19/11/1944

11/10/1945

RAF

 

776

07/05/1945

30/09/1945

FAA

 

889

01/06/1945

10/08/1945

FAA

Reformed at Woodvale

736

28/06/1945

20/07/1945

FAA

"B" Flight

816

01/07/1945

11/08/1945

FAA

 

736

17/08/1945

23/09/1945

FAA

"B" Flight, Disbanded at Woodvale

889

28/08/1945

10/09/1945

FAA

 

822

28/08/1945

04/10/1945

FAA

 

611

22/07/1946

09/07/1951

RAF

 

No 186 Gliding School

Dec-47

00/12/1951

RAF

 

University of Liverpool Air Squadron

02/07/1951

 

RAF

 

No 19 Reserve Flying School

13/07/1951

20/07/1954

RAF

 

THUM Flight

13/07/1951

01/05/1959

RAF

 

Manchester University Air Squadron

14/03/1953

 

RAF

Renamed Manchester and Salford University Air Squadron in April 1975

Western Sector Flight

1956

25/10/1957

RAF

 

No 5 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit

01/01/1958

30/06/1971

RAF

Disbanded at Woodvale

No 10 Air Experience Flight

25/08/1958

 

RAF

 

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