At the beginning of the 20th century, aviation development was initially confined to private-sponsor projects, but with the war threatening Europe, British government funding controlled by the War Office and the Admiralty, stimulated aircraft research. The 1914/18 First World War saw massive growth in aircraft and airfield construction, plus train- ing needs for pilots and ground-crews to maintain combat squadrons covering the battle areas, and the sea, protecting merchant convoys from U-boat attack. Of the twelve New Forest airfields, nine were built for the Second World War 1939/45. Now just one remains open, for civilian use; the rest reverted to farmland and heath, but have com- memorative plaques, traceable with use of a good map. Calshot Opened by the Royal Naval Air Service on 29/03/1913 this seaplane and flying-boat base built on the shingle bank linking the Tudor fort to the New Forest, where Southampton water joins the Solent, was an experi- mental unit before it's various seaplanes, and Felixstowe flying-boats began to patrol the Allied sea-lanes in the Channel. On the 1st April 1918the R.A.F. was created from the R.N.A.S. and R.F.C.; Calshot base was home to the High Speed Flight training staff in 1927 and their Supermarine S6B won the Schneider for Britain in 1931. During the inter-war years, Calshot formed No.201 and 240 Squadrons, which moved their Sunderland flying-boats to bases further from Luftwaffe intervention; on the 24th May 1939 the Fleet Air Arm was created for Royal Navy carrier operations. During the Second World War, Calshot operated Air-Sea Rescue launches; its big Sunderlands flew in the 1948 Berlin Airlift. R.A.F. Calshot closed in 1961; it is now an activities centre.


Built in 1940/41 north of Bournemouth, this large three-runway base operated overseas transport aircraft e.g. B-24 Liberators and B-17 Fort- resses for V.I.P.s, then Albemarles for parachute-dropping/glider training. In 1944, R.A.F. Typhoons flown by British and Canadian pilots, and U.S.A.A.F. B-26 Marauder bombers supported D-day operations; R.A.F. Mosquitos and U.S.A.A.F. Black Widows provided night-fighter defence. Today Hurn remains open, renamed Bournemouth Interna- tional Airport.



The three-runway airfield north of New Milton opened in October 1942 operating R.A.F. Wellingtons and Halifaxes and U.S.A.A.F. B-17 Fort- resses on anti-U-boat patrols. Up to and beyond D-day R.A.F. Typhoons and Mustangs, RCAF Spitfires, supported by U.S.A.A.F. B-26s and R.C.A.F Night-Intruder Mosquitos, flew missions over occupied France. After R.A.F. Transport Command use, the airfield was closed in October 1946.

Stoney Cross

Opened in November 1942, west of Cadnam. The airfields three runways operated R.A.F. Hurricans and Mustangs of the Army Cooperation Command, then Stirlings, Whitleys and Albermares training Horsa glider pilots. D-day support given by U.S.A.A.F. P-38 and B-26s was superceded by R.A.F. Transport Command York and Dakota duties, the airfield closing in 1946

Bisterne Advanced Landing Ground

Built south of Ringwood in 1943, this two-runway base constructed of Sommerfield Steel Tracking, operated three squadrons of P-47s for D- day, moving to France on the 17th June 1944; Bisterne closed later that year.

Lymington Advanced Landing Ground

Constructed East of Lymington Ferry Terminal, the two steel-tracking runways was used by three squadrons of P-47s supporting D-day operations, moving to France on the 24th June 1944. Used for Admiralty storage, it closed in 1946.

East Boldre

East Boldre: This first New Forest airfield, of grass, was opened south of Beaulieu in 1910. It was used privately by a New Forest Flying School until January 1912; William McArdle and J. Armstrong Drexel, taught students using a small Bleriot monoplane. In 1916, the demand for basic pilot training to cover the Allied Western Front in Northern France and Flanders re-activated East Boldre for use by the Royal Flying Corps; BE.2 and 12, Curtis JN-4, RE.8 and Sopwith Camel aircraft were flown there. After the Armistice the R.A.F. closed it in 1919.


This concrete and tarmac three-runway airfield built east of the River Avon, north of Ringwood, opened in February 1941. Operating R.A.F. Hurricanes and Spitfires flown by British, Polish, Czech and Australian pilots, and joined by U.S.A.A.F. P-38 Lightnings, P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs after 1942, supporting Allied forces up to and beyond D- day After use by Dakotas in 1945, the base closed in 1947. Burley is a very popular New Forest village and in the summer becomes a busy haven for tourists and locals alike. The village is approximately 21 miles from Southampton, 16 miles from Bournemouth, and 97 miles from London.


The grass airfield at Somerford opened in 1935, east of the old town of Christchurch was taken over by the R.A.F. in April 1940 for use in devel- oping radar. The Airspeed factory adjacent built twin-engine Oxford training aircraft and Horsa gliders. In 1943, R.A.F. And U.S.A.A.F. engin- eers built a wire-mesh runway for use by P47 Thunderbolt fighter- bombers of the 9th Air Force supporting D-Day, 1944. De Havillands took over Airspeed, and built Vampire, Venom and Sea Vixen jet fight- ers there until 1962 - the airfield closed in 1967.  


Opened in August 1942, west of Beaulieu village, the big three runways airfield, operated R.A.F. Coastal Command Liberators and R.C.A.F. Hali- faxes on anti-U-boat patrols. In 1944 R.A.F. Typhoons and Bostons were joined by U.S.A.A.F. P-47 and B-26 aircraft to support D-day Post-war saw the Airbourne Forces Experimental Establishment use the base until closure in 1950.

Needs Oar Point Advanced Landing Ground

Like Bisterne and Lymington, this simple 1943-built steel -track two- runway base supported D-day operations but with four squadrons of R.A.F. Typhoons, moving to France in July 1944, it closed in 1945.

Winkton Advanced Landing Ground

Built just west of Bransgore in 1943, the two-runway, steel-tracking base used three squadrons of P-47s to cover D-day forces, moving to a newly built French base on the 6th July 1944, it closed in 1945.  

Airfields of The New Forest by Jon Honeysett

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