Welcome to The RAF in Essex, WW1 to the Cold War

Website about all the RAF Airfields and auxiliary sites in Essex.

About the Website

"Never was so much owed by so many to so few"
- Winston Churchill

Airfields, auxiliary sites and the Military in Essex

RAF airfields and camps took their name from the town in which they were situated or from a nearby village.RAF Hornchurch, which was one of the first in Essex, existed in WW1 but was situated at Suttons farm. Before WW2 there were army barracks at Colchester. The Essex Regiment had its main barracks at Warley, near Brentwood, and the Royal Artillery had a significant presence at Shoeburyness, southend.

From early WW1 the Artists Rifles, Hare Hall Camp in Romford produced officers for the RFC and all the regiments in France. Many young men went through the process of recruitment, training and posting to France. The WW1 wartime poets, Edward Thomas, Wilfred Owen passed through the gates of what is now the Royal Liberty School, Romford. Noel Coward was also another who joined the Artists Rifles at Hare Hall in WW1.

Hare Hall Camp OTC, Gidea Park, Romford, Essex, WW1

Click here for more Hare Hall OTC pictures

Anti-aircraft and coastal defence gunsites were also along the coast. The army presence, increased especially during the possible invasion of German foces in 1940 to 1941. During the build-up to 'Overlord', the D-Day invasion of June 1944, there were many army installations across the county. They were often billeted in hutted or tented accomodation. Buildings were requisitioned, many Manor houses and commercial premises were used and also billeted with local civilian homes.

Not all RAF places were airfields - RAF Canewdon was a chain home radar station. RAF ROTOR Station Kelvedon Hatch which was the main secret nuclear bunker in the Cold War was used up to the collapse of the Russian Soviet Union. This amazing secret site is now a museum and is open to the public. RAF Andrews Field originally intended to be Great Saling was the first US-built base in the UK, and the only one named after a person rather than a place. Operational 1943 - 8th USAAF (B-17s, B-26s), RAF Oct 44 as long-range fighter escort base (Mustangs). RAF Birch became operationalin 1944 for USAAF. It was not used until March 1945, briefly by by RAF Dakotas on Operation 'Varsity', the Rhine crossing.

Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome

Stow Maries Aerodrome is a Great War Aerodrome set in the rural Essex countryside. The Aerodrome was in use from 1916 to 1919 as a home defence station in the war against Zeppelin and German aeroplane raids. It has many of its original buildings in situ which are currently undergoing restoration to bring the site back to its 1918 appearance. It also boasts a wildlife walk which was the winner of Maldon District Council Conservation and Design Award 2010. For further details see www.stowmaries.org.uk