RAF Benson - History

History

Building work for RAF Benson began in 1937. RAF Benson was officially opened on Saturday 1 April 1939 and its first aircraft were two squadrons of Fairey Battle light bombers which began to arrive a few days later. No. 103 Squadron RAF started flying in on 3 April 1939, to be joined in the next few months by No. 150 Squadron RAF.

The Battles were replaced in December 1940 with Vickers Wellington medium bombers. At the same time the Spitfires of No. 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit RAF an RAF Coastal Command unit arrived. It gained considerable fame as the home of photographic reconnaissance for the remainder of World War II. In June 1943, No 1 PRU was formed into No 106 Wing, with five squadrons (No’s 540 to 544 inclusive) and an Operational Training Unit. The Wing was elevated to the status of No 106 (PU) Group in April 1944, with two Mosquito and two Spitfire Squadrons (No 543 Squadron having been disbanded when the aircraft strength per Squadron was increased). The No 106 Group was assigned to the Coastal Command's Photo Reconnaissance assets with the whole of Northern Europe as its operational area.

Its Supermarine Spitfire and de Havilland Mosquito aircraft flew missions over occupied Europe, for example bringing back battle damage assessment pictures after Operation Chastise. This period of the station's history is reflected in the use of a full-scale replica of a wartime Spitfire PR.Mk XI on the main gate - this having replaced a genuine Spitfire PR.MK XIX that has been restored to flying status. Vera Lynn, 'the forces Sweetheart', visited RAF Benson to entertain the troops, reportedly singing "The White Cliffs of Dover" at the station.

The station retained a reconnaisance role for some years after the war, with Avro Lancaster, Spitfire, Mosquito, Gloster Meteor PR.Mk 10 and English Electric Canberra PR.Mk 3 aircraft.

On 1 June 1962 No. 105 Squadron RAF reformed at the station, flying Armstrong Whitworth AW.660 Argosys as part of the RAF Transport Command fleet. In January 1968, 114 and 267 Squadrons were flying Argosys as a Wing on the station.

The King's Flight moved from RAF Hendon and would stay (renamed as the Queen's Flight after the death of King George VI) until after the war, moving to RAF Northolt in 1995.

The station is today the home to four squadrons of Support Helicopters, 28 Squadron, 78 Squadron with Merlin helicopters and 33 Squadron and 230 Squadron with Puma helicopters. RAF Benson is also home to the Grob Tutor light aircraft of the Oxford University Air Squadron. Also a flying club exists at RAF Benson which consists of service and civilian personnel. Massive investment has been made in a modern flight simulator facility for the Chinook (not located at Benson), Merlin and Puma. RAF Benson is now also home to a mobile Catering Support Unit and the Chiltern Air Support Unit (Police) bases one of its Eurocopter EC 135 helicopters at Benson. A yellow MBB Bo 105 belonging to the Thames Valley & Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust (headquartered at Grove Park), Maidenhead, moved from White Waltham to Benson in January 2007.

The future of RAF Benson was in doubt for some time, while Project Belvedere was looking into closing at least one of Joint Helicopter Command's airfields. These included Benson, Odiham, Aldergrove, Yeovilton, Middle Wallop, Wattisham and Dishforth; with the Support Helicopters based at RAF Benson being considered for a move to RAF Lyneham. Belvedere has been abandoned on cost grounds, and Benson's future is now believed to be safe.

Read more about this topic:  RAF Benson

Other articles related to "history":

Voltaire - Works - Historical
... History of Charles XII, King of Sweden (1731) The Age of Louis XIV (1751) The Age of Louis XV (1746–1752) Annals of the Empire – Charlemagne, A.D ... II (1754) Essay on the Manners of Nations (or 'Universal History') (1756) History of the Russian Empire Under Peter the Great (Vol ... II 1763) History of the Parliament of Paris (1769) ...
Xia Dynasty - Modern Skepticism
... The Skeptical School of early Chinese history, started by Gu Jiegang in the 1920s, was the first group of scholars within China to seriously question the traditional story of its ... early Chinese history is a tale told and retold for generations, during which new elements were added to the front end" ...
History of Computing
... The history of computing is longer than the history of computing hardware and modern computing technology and includes the history of methods intended for pen and paper or for chalk and slate ...
Spain - History - Fall of Muslim Rule and Unification
... The breakup of Al-Andalus into the competing taifa kingdoms helped the long embattled Iberian Christian kingdoms gain the initiative ... The capture of the strategically central city of Toledo in 1085 marked a significant shift in the balance of power in favour of the Christian kingdoms ...
Casino - History of Gambling Houses
... believed that gambling in some form or another has been seen in almost every society in history ... and Romans to Napoleon's France and Elizabethan England, much of history is filled with stories of entertainment based on games of chance ... In American history, early gambling establishments were known as saloons ...

Famous quotes containing the word history:

    The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living.
    Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874–1936)

    History has neither the venerableness of antiquity, nor the freshness of the modern. It does as if it would go to the beginning of things, which natural history might with reason assume to do; but consider the Universal History, and then tell us,—when did burdock and plantain sprout first?
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    Yet poetry, though the last and finest result, is a natural fruit. As naturally as the oak bears an acorn, and the vine a gourd, man bears a poem, either spoken or done. It is the chief and most memorable success, for history is but a prose narrative of poetic deeds.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)