Report - RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire

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Oxygen Thief

Staff member
Oct 17, 2005
Popped in here on the way back from Bristol. Previous pictures and reports never mentioned the size of this site, or its completeness. Yes it's wrecked, but appears everything is here. There's three hangars, a medical centre, barracks, officers and sergeants mess, fire station and some other stuff I didn't recognise. Theres a bit of taxiway outside but it's not clear where the runway and control tower was from the ground.

Definately worth popping in if your in the area.









Last edited:

Oxygen Thief

Staff member
Oct 17, 2005
Re: RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire - REPORT

Seems like they did allsorts here...

January 1936 - Opening of Yatesbury School .

At the end of the year the Company was contracted by the Air Ministry to open a second School for 'ab inito' and reserve training. The old R.F.C. and R.A.F. Aerodrome site at Yatesbury, Nr. Calne, was purchased and the hangars and airfield re-conditioned and buildings for the accommodate and training of pupils were build during the Autumn of 1935.

This School commenced operations on January 1st 1936, and Mr.T.W. Campbell became Chief Instructor with Messrs. Palmer, Stevenson and Carr from the Filton School, as a nucleus of an Instructional Staff which by 1939 had risen to some twenty. Up to the War in 1939, this School trained over 450 pilots for the Royal Air Force, among whom perhaps the most distinguished pupil was W/Cdr. Gibson, V.C. of Dam-Busting fame.

1937 - Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Training undertaken.

At both Schools, training of regular pilots for the Royal Air Force and reservists was continued on similar lines until the Spring of 1937, when on the creation of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, additional flying training of 'ab inito' pilots was undertaken. At Yatesbury, where there was a very small local recruitment, only a limited number of V.R. pilots were trained with the regular courses, but at Filton, this work built up rapidly and weekend and evening flying was started to deal with this new commitment. Among the early pilots trained, most of whom were Bristolians - were Wing Commander D.H. Cartridge, D.S.O., D.F.C., and S/Ldr. 'Tom' Stevenson, A.F.C. now commanding the Atlantic Ferry Squadron.

1937 - R.A.F. School Titles adopted.

During this year, the Filton School was given the R.A.F. number, No.2 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School and Yatesbury, No.10 E and R.F.T.S.

1938 - Hawker Hart Type Introduced for annual training.

Early in 1938, Hawker Hart type replaced the Tiger Moth as the annual training aircraft for reservists and volunteer reservists, numbers of whom had now completed their 'ab inito' training.

September 1938 - Air Observer/Navigator Training at Yatesbury - No.2 A.O.N.S.

At Yatesbury in September 1938, the training of Air Observer/Navigators was commenced and No.2 Air Observer Navigation School was opened, Anson aircraft being used for this purpose. This School continued operation until December 1940, during which time 248 navigators were trained and 9,675 hours flown. it's a training school for sure, for pilots, observers, navigators, until 1940. After that?

Oxygen Thief

Staff member
Oct 17, 2005
Re: RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire - REPORT

a bit more history...

September 1939 - Outbreak of War - Changes in Training - Mobilisation of Instructors.

Reserve Training of all descriptions ceased forthwith and the Hart and Anson (from Filton) aircraft were handed back to the R.A.F. 'Ab inito' training of pilots on Tiger moths and, at Yatesbury, navigators as well continued and was gradually stepped up. At the end of 1939 all the Flying School Instructors were mobilised, but the management of the Schools and maintenance of aircraft etc. was still retained by the Company.

October 1939 - Wireless Flight formed at Yatesbury as No. 2 Radio School - R.A.F.

In October 1939, flying training was commenced at Yatesbury of Wireless Operators from the R.A.F. School which had been established nearby, earlier in the year. D.H. Dominie aircraft were used for this purpose.
September 1940 - 10 E.F.T.S. move to Weston-super-Mare

At Yatesbury too, the Autumn of 1940 brought great changes. The training commitment for Wireless Operators was greatly increased and owing to the large number of aircraft to be used for this purpose - numbers eventually reaching 95 Dominies and Proctors - it became necessary to relieve congestion by moving pilot training elsewhere.

Consequently No. 10 E.F.T.S. moved with its aircraft, R.A.F. Instructors and pupils and a nucleus of Company's employees under S/Ldr. Campbell, as Commanding Officer, to Weston-super-Mare, where the civilian maintenance staff, who had been previously employed with an A.O.N.S. , were taken over by the Company. S/Ldr. Raeburn was left in command at Yatesbury. Both S/Ldrs. Campbell and Raeburn, though holding R.A.F. rank were seconded to the Company to manage the Schools, in addition to their R.A.F. duties.

December 1940 - Yatesbury - No. 2 A.O.N.S. Closes.

As a further consequence of the increased wireless commitment, the A.O.N.S. at Yatesbury ceased to operate from December 1940. Since commencing operations in September 1938, this School had trained 248 Navigators for the R.A.F. and flown 9,675 hours.
1941 - Build-up of No. 2 Radio School, Yatesbury.

At Yatesbury, the wireless school got into full swing during 1941, and with a gradual build-up of aircraft, a steady increase in flying was noticeable and by the end of the year, 33,800 hours had been flown.
1942-1945 - War effort of Worcester and Yatesbury Schools.
The Wireless School at Yatesbury, in spite of considerable trouble through unserviceability of Proctor aircraft, caused by the dispersal conditions, completed over 50,000 flying hours during 1942. During the succeeding 2 years 63,000 and over 70,000 hours were flown, without any major change in operation conditions.

Both aerodromes were free from enemy interference during the latter part of the war and training continued without any interruption or outstanding incident until V.E. day.
July 1945 - Radio School closes at Yatesbury.

Shortly after this, news was received that the wireless school at Yatesbury was to cease operations, and in July the School was disbanded. Since its establishment in 1940, 18,500 wireless operators had been air-trained and a total of 224,181 hours had been flown.

August 1945 - 2 E.F.T.S. moves from Worcester to Yatesbury.

On the disbanding of the Wireless School, No. 2 E.F.T.S. from Worcester, under W/Cdr. Campbell, moved to Yatesbury, which once again reverted to its original pilot training. Many of the Company's' employees who had left Filton in 1940, returned from Worcester to Filton, but some moved with the School to Yatesbury to supplement some of the old staff, who were still employed there. Others of the large civilian staff at Yatesbury, which had been recruited during the war left the Company's' employ and took up work at Filton.

September 1947 - Yatesbury School closed - Aerodrome and Buildings Presented to Malcolm Clubs.

The School at Yatesbury continued to operate until 1947, and during this time, training of pilots of the R.A.F., Dominion Air Forces, and, finally the Royal Navy was carried out. In the Summer of 1947, however, the Air Ministry decided to withdraw training of regular aircrew from civilian schools, and as Yatesbury was unsuitably located for R.A.F.V.R. training which was then being recommenced, it became necessary to finally abandon Yatesbury as a Flying School. The buildings and the whole of the site were presented by the Directors of the Company to the Malcolm Clubs, who planned to establish their Headquarters there.

In September 1947, therefore, the Yatesbury School was given up. During its twelve years of existence, the 'Bristol' School there had done invaluable training work for the Royal Air Force, the Navy and the Army, and had built up a high reputation for itself in all three services.

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