The site chosen was flat and required little clearing apart from a few trees and the burying of telegraph wires, which was completed early in 1943. The runways were formed with two intersecting strips made with heavy metal mesh (Sommerfeld Track landing strips) laid straight onto the grass. The ground at the Newchurch site was regarded as firm enough for dispersed aircraft so no hardstanding was provided. Originally two blister hangars were built for the servicing of aircraft and later two more were added. Most of the personnel lived in tents on the airfield while the rest lived in local houses.
Two tempests taking off for a sortie over the Caen area.
An RAF ground crew servicing and refuelling a Tempest that had just returned from a patrol over Normandy IWM CH14088
The first squadrons of Spitfires arrived in July 1943 and were used as escort for American bombers based in East Anglia, but within three months the ALG was closed for upgrading. It re-opened in April 1944 with squadrons of Tempests, Spitfires and Typhoons. These were used for air cover during the ‘D-Day’ landings and later in June 1944 the Tempests were ordered to deal with the new threat of the V1 Flying Bombs (Doodlebugs).
The first Doodlebug shot down by the Newchurch Wing was on 16th June and the final tally shot down by the Newchurch Wing was 638. After months of intense activity, when the threat posed by the V1s had subsided, the Wing were moved on to other duties. In September 1944 the site was returned to agriculture.
Below is a film shot in 1944 showing operations and daily life at Newchurch ALG. It was almost certainly shot to provide material for the RAF film about the defence against the V1 bomb which can be seen on our V1 page.
There is no sound. Source IWM.
Lefty Whitman, pictured above, was an American who joined the Canadian Airforce in 1941 and was posted to England with No 3 Sqn. He tells a very entertaining story of his time at Newchurch including the little- known visit of The King & Queen and Prime Minister Churchill accompanied by Ernest Hemmingway, John Steinbeck, Ernie Pyle and Edward G. Robinson.
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Aerial photograph taken just after the war showing the airfield after it was decommissioned and the ditches re-instated.
Click to see a larger version Historic England RAF5262
Many local houses were taken over.
This is believed to be Brooker Farmhouse. IWM HU92141