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RAF Warboys
Ensign of the Royal Air Force
Queen Elizabeth at RAF Warboys Feb 1944 IWM TR 1554.jpg
HM Queen Elizabeth inspects flight and ground crews at RAF Warboys, February 1944, in front of an Avro Lancaster of No. 156 Squadron RAF
IATA: none – ICAO: none
Airport type Military
Owner Air Ministry
Operator Royal Air Force
Location Warboys, Cambridgeshire
Built 1940
In use 1940-1963
Coordinates 52°23′28″N 000°05′59″W / 52.39111°N 0.09972°W / 52.39111; -0.09972
Cambridgeshire UK location map
Airplane silhouette.svg
RAF Warboys
Location in Cambridgeshire
Direction Length Surface
ft m
00/00 0 0 Concrete
00/00 0 0 Concrete
00/00 0 0 Concrete

RAF Warboys is a former Royal Air Force heavy bomber station, situated just outside the village of Warboys in Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire).


During the early years of the war, Warboys was a relatively conventional bomber station which was supplemented with the addition of an exceptionally long main runway measuring 6,290 feet. Construction of this runway resulted in the closure of the nearby road to Huntingdon during the war years.

The station was allocated to No.3 Group in August 1942. RAF Warboys became one of the original Pathfinder Force stations.

The construction of Warboys began in 1940. The airfield was built to relieve the congestion at RAF Upwood for the use of No. 17 Operational Training Unit (No. 17 OTU) with Bristol Blenheims. The airfield was near completion in 1941. The completion of barbed wire around strategic area's, and three AA guns positions with one Vickers gun was almost finished by 17 May.

The airfield was ready to use at the end of July 1941, but the first squadron to move was a detachment of Short Stirling's from 15 Squadron, arriving from RAF Wyton. The next squadron to arrive was 'D' Flight 17 OTU which was based at RAF Upwood and came to Warboys on 15 December. 15 squadron left two days before 17 OTU arrived. The completion of the domestic sites and the new officers mess and Sergeants mess was in use about this time. The bad weather held up completion of a lot of the buildings including the Battle Headquarters.

The first fully operational squadron to arrive at Warboys was 156 Squadron on 5 August 1942. The squadron came from RAF Alconbury with Vickers Wellingtons, in the new year it re-equipped with Avro Lancasters. The unit was No. 1507 Beam Approach Training for the RAF Bomber Command, but was only at Warboys from 13 March to 17 June 1943 equipped with Airspeed Oxfords. After 1507 (BAT) left, the Stirlings, Lancasters, Handley Page Halifaxes and Oxfords of the Pathfinder Force Navigation Training Unit arrived from RAF Gransden Lodge. Tests were made on the defence of the base like on 31 October 1943 when the Home Guard, from non-local Platoons attempted to take the airfield over by rating the defences but was unable to do so. The further strengthening of defences was made on 1 March 1944 when No. 2716 Squadron RAF Regiment took over ten Bofors gun sites.

Upwood, which was still having a lot of problems with the grass runways decided to convert over to concrete runways, three in total. One of its first squadrons on the new announced concrete runways was 156 squadron when it left Warboys in March 1944. On 7 March came No. 1655 (Mosquito) Training Unit which had just come from RAF Marham. On 8 March, the A.O.C. of the Pathfinder Force, Air Comm. Bennett arrived to inspect the station and the personnel, The small Warboys airfield was getting very busy when on 6 October nineteen Lancasters of 428 squadron arrived from RAF Middleton St. George after operations over Germany, but by 12 December 1944 1655 (Mosquito) Training Unit left and went to RAF Upper Heyford. On 1 January came a smaller unit, No. 1323 Flight (Automatic Gun Laying Turret) from RAF Bourn.

VE Day, 8 May 1945, saw big changes at RAF Warboys, the first was Navigation Training Unit that disbanded at the end of June 1945 but was replaced on 22 July by 128 Squadron with the re-equipped de Havilland Mosquitoes from RAF Wyton. On 28 June arriving from Bourn was No. 1696 (Bomber) Defence Training Flight. 571 Squadron arrived from Oakington on 20 July equipped with Mosquitos. On 23 July came the A.O.C. of 8 Group, AVM J.R. Whitley DSO AFC, to inspect the station for the final time, he was very impressed.

Warboys was coming to and end and it started with 571 Squadron when it disbanded on 20 September 1945, not long to follow was 1696 (Bomber) Defence Training Flight on 28 September and 1323 (AGLT) Flight was two days after that. 128 Squadron left on 8 October for service on the continent. With only a few communication aircraft left the airfield was strangely quiet. On 15 December 1945 Warboys was placed under the care maintenance basis with its parent station Upwood.

With over the following years reverted to agricultural use. The buildings became derelict and the runways and taxiways were gradually broken up. Bloodhound air-defence missiles of 257 squadron was based at Warboys from 1 July 1960 with the return of the Royal Air Force. No accommodation was provided and the operating crews lived at Upwood which had loads of room. By the end of December 1963 the Bloodhounds had been withdrawn and the Royal Air Force relinquished the airfield for the second and last time.

In January 1943, the base converted to Avro Lancaster bombers, which remained at the site until March 1944, when the aircraft were relocated to nearby RAF Upwood.

Airfield layout and additional buildingsEdit

Located on the north side of the site was the battle headquarters bunker, defended by a pair of mushroom shaped F.C Construction type pillboxes (also known as Oakington or Fairlop type pillboxes), one of which remains in good condition in 2009.

The airfield's bomb stores were located to the west of the airfield and to the north lay a machine gun butt, used for testing, discharge and alignment of aircraft machine guns.

Domestic, mess and communal sites were dispersed to the south east of the airfield either side of the modern A141 on the borders of the neighbouring village of Old Hurst. At least 11 separate dispersed locations provided maximum accommodation for 1,959 male and 291 female personnel.

Based unitsEdit

Post warEdit

In 1960, the former airfield became a Bristol Bloodhound air defence missile site, later withdrawn in 1963.

Current useEdit

The site was then sold back into private ownership and returned to largely agricultural use, with a small industrial estate developing on the southern corner of the former runways.



  1. Jefford 1988, p. 59.
  2. Jefford 1988, p. 63.
  3. Jefford 1988, p. 79.
  4. Jefford 1988, p. 97.


  • Jefford MBE, Wg Cdr C G (1988). RAF Squadrons. A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6 CITEREFJefford1988. 

External linksEdit

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