RAF Henlow

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 RAF HENLOW OUTLINE HISTORY

1917

Flat area near industrial Luton chosen for an Eastern Command repair depot

1918

First RAF personnel moved in from Farnborough on 10th May to establish No.5 Eastern Area Aircraft Depot.
By the end of the year 300 women clerks and fabric workers employed.
With the Armistice, fighters were sold off for 10/- and bombers for 1.

1919

On 1st April airmen awaiting demob mutinied over increased working hours.
Long jail sentences imposed by a Court Martial.

1920

Another 161 acres purchased for a flight testing airfield.
Became Inland Area Aircraft Depot on 16th March.
An apocryphal story circulated that a large building used to repair Handley Page aircraft was intended for a pickle factory at Hendon, but that the destination names got mixed.

1924

The Officers' Engineering School moved from Farnborough in April.

1925

Fighter Squadrons No.23 and No.43 reformed at Henlow on 1st July under home defence changes.
Parachute Test Section formed in September.

1926

Became Home Aircraft Depot, 21 Group, on 4th April.
The Parachute Training Section moved in from Northolt in October, and with the Test Section became the Parachute Test Unit. The test method was to stand on the wing of a Vimy bomber, pull the rip cord, and if the 'chute didn't open, hopefully not to let go.
Squadron No. 43 left for Tangmere in December.

1927

Squadron No.23 left for Kenley in February.

1930

Personnel assisted with handling of the ill-fated airship R101 at Cardington.

1935

Under the Expansion Scheme, No.1 Wing trained Fitters 1 and m/c tool operators, and
No.2 and No.3 Wings trained Flight Riggers and Flight Mechanics.
New accommodation built.

1936

Became the School of Aeronautical Engineering in December.
The Pilotless Aircraft Section (Queen Bee targets) moved in from Farnborough in October.

1937

MT Driver training began in January.
Cookery course opened.
No.80 Squadron moved in from Kenley on 15th March, but moved out again to Debden on 9th June.
Basic Training to supplement the Uxbridge depot started in July, with 1000 men housed in tents.
Within months they were moved to huts at Cardington.

1938

The training roles had superseded the original repair functions.
In anticipation of the war, two thirds of the Training Wing moved to St.Athan, and No.2 Mobilisation Pool was formed with a view to returning to the repair role.
The Home Aircraft Depot became No.13 MU in October.

1939

No.1 Wing moved to Halton in April.

1940

The Pilotless Aircraft Section moved to Hawkinge on 22nd February.
After Dunkirk, 3000 men of No.21 Aircraft Depot were withdrawn to Henlow, where they worked on unpacking, assembling, testing, modifying and repairing Hurricanes.
Two bombs fell on the station with little damage, but three servicemen were killed by a bomb in Lower Stondon.

1941

Operation "Quick Force" involved 50 to 100 fitters serving on HMS Furious, and other carriers, dismantling Hurricanes for transport to Malta.
About 30 men sailed with each ship to reassemble them for take off, when 300 miles west of the island.
During the last voyage on 14th November, Ark Royal was torpedoed by U81, and seven survivors returned to Henlow on the 22nd.

1943

In March, a Whitley IV was modified to snatch personnel from the ground on a long line.
A mobile Link Trainer was devised for use by squadrons on the continent.

1947

The School of Aeronautical Engineering became The Technical College on 15th August.
On 19th October, The Signals Development Unit moved in, from West Drayton which was to be used to accommodate 1948 Olympic Games competitors.

1949

The Empire Radio School at Debden became the Signals Division of the Technical College, but didn't move until 1960.

1950

The Signals Development Unit was renamed Radio Engineering Unit on 1st January.

1951

The Armament Division of the Technical College moved in from Lindholme in February, and was renamed Engineering and Armament Division.
From April, the College offered courses in guided missile technology.

1953

Henlow raised to Group status in June, the Technical College consisting of a HQ plus 5 wings:
Basic Studies, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Weapons Systems, Engineering, and Cadet Wing.

1960

Signals Division of the Technical College, moved from Debden to Henlow on 8th April.

1965

The Technical College was amalgamated with RAF College, Cranwell.

1966

Officer Cadet Training Unit moved in from Feltwell.

1980

Henlow reduced to being the Radio Engineering Unit.
Officer Cadet Training Unit ceased on 24th April.

1983

Camp now shared with the Land Registry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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This page was last updated on 6th April, 2007