History of Long Marston


Long Marston was constructed by John Laing & Sons as an RAF station in 1940-41 and was intended to operate as a satellite station to a new bomber OTU (operational training unit) in 1941.

As a planned bomber OTU, Long Marston was constructed with three tarmac runways in the standard 'A' configuration with the main runway measuring 1500 yards and the other two 1100 yards in length.

At a later date, these were extended with the second runaway becoming the largest (and effectively the main runaway) at 2400 yards in length. It is from this runaway that models will fly during the show.

During the second world war, the site sported three hangers and approximately 1,000 permanent staff and trainee crews during their courses.

Ferry Command used the site as a base of operations from November 1941 with the site being used to train ferry crews in the art of long distance navigation and flying and was equipped with a range of aircract including Wellingtons, Beaforts, Dominies, Hudsons, Marylands and Bombays.

As the demand for trained bomber crews increased (during 1942 OTUs were expected to produce 14 crews each fornight!), Honeybourne became home to a new OTU - No. 24.In July the unit was operating 54 Whitleys and 5 Ansons.

During 1942 Long Marston experienced a remarkable run of good fortune without a single accident to any aircraft operating from the airfield during the year. However, with the increasing pace of operational training, things were to change.

On March 16th 1943, a Whitley V crashed on take-off as its undercarriage collapsed. The crew were fortunate to escape unharmed. The pilot, Sergeant A. E. Evans completed his course and was posted to a Halifax squadron - No. 58 and while on his 9th sortie to Cannes on 11th/12th November, his aircraft was shot down by a night fighter on the homeward flight. Evans and another crewman were killed and the other five airmen escaped by parachute.

On 28th June 1943, a Wellington III of No 22 OTU having taken off from Gaydon attempted an emergency landing at Long Marston after suffering a loss of engine power. It crashed into two parked Whitley Vs killing four Canadian airmen in the Wellington and writing off the three aircraft involved.

The last Whitley V to be lost from Long Marston took off on the night of 22nd/23rd May 1944 being one of six detailed for a 'Nickel' operation with each crew having been given a different target area. The Whitley crashed near Alencon, France and all six RCAF airmen are buried at the Canadian war memorial at Bretteville-sur-Laize. This particular Whitley had been operating out of Long Marston since 1942 and had already flown a total of 652 hours which was extremely high.

No 24 OTU was one of the last units to be disbanded and finally closed down on 24th July 1945 with Long Marston being placed under the control of No. 8 Maintenance Unit at Little Rissington, Gloucestershire being used mainly for the storage of a large number of redundant Wellingtons.

The airfield, together with a number in the area was 'modestly' refurbished a used for flying training purposes by No. 10 Advanced Flying School operating from Pershore in the shape of Airspeed Oxfords which were still going strong.

Long Marston closed as an RAF station in 1954 co-inciding with the closure of the flying school and the demise of the Oxfords. Nowadays, Long Marston is still active with a variety of light aircraft, microlights and of course model aircraft flying from the site regularly.

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