RAF Ternhill

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RAF Ternhill
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Part of RAF Shawbury
Near Market Drayton, Shropshire in England
The airfield at Ternhill.
The airfield at Ternhill.
RAF Ternhill is located in Shropshire
RAF Ternhill
RAF Ternhill
Shown within Shropshire
Coordinates 52°52′16″N 002°32′01″W / 52.87111°N 2.53361°W / 52.87111; -2.53361Coordinates: 52°52′16″N 002°32′01″W / 52.87111°N 2.53361°W / 52.87111; -2.53361
Type Relief Landing Ground (RLG)
Area 111 hectares
Site information
Owner Ministry of Defence
Operator Royal Air Force
Controlled by No. 22 Group (Training)
Site history
Built 1916 (1916)
In use 1916-1920
Airfield information
Identifiers ICAO: EGOE
Elevation 83 metres (272 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
04/22 980 metres (3,215 ft) Asphalt
10/28 948 metres (3,110 ft) Asphalt
17/35 822 metres (2,697 ft) Grass

Royal Air Force Ternhill or RAF Ternhill (ICAO: EGOE) was a Royal Air Force station at Ternhill in Shropshire, England, near the towns of Newport and Market Drayton.

Although no longer a RAF station, the airfield is retained by the Ministry of Defence and is predominately used as a relief landing ground for helicopters of the Defence Helicopter Flying School, based at RAF Shawbury. The airfield is also home to the RAF's No. 632 Volunteer Gliding Squadron. Many of the airfield buildings and some local Ministry of Defence housing, much of which was later sold-off are now part of the British Army base known as Clive Barracks (after Robert Clive).


First World War[edit]

The airfield was first opened in 1916 and was initially operated by the Royal Flying Corps before being taken over by its successor the Royal Air Force (RAF) on 1 April 1918.

The first squadron posted to RFC Ternhill was 95 Squadron RFC from 8 October 1917 with various aircraft being moving to Shotwick on 30 October 1917.[1]

The next three squadron all arrived on 1 March 1918 and used various aircraft the squadrons were then transferred from the RFC to the RAF on 1 April 1918.

On 1 April 1918 No. 13 Training Depot Station was posted to Ternhill staying until March 1919.[3]

The last two squadrons which were posted here had a status of cadre:

The land was sold off in 1922 for use as a race horse stable.[6]

Second World War[edit]

In 1935 the land was again requisitioned and the airfield was re-built and three Type 'C' hangars were erected on the main airfield. The first based flying unit was No.10 Flying Training School which formed on 1 January 1936 and remained until it was transferred to Canada in late 1940. A site for a Maintenance Unit was created on the south-east side of the airfield and this opened on 1 June 1937 for use by No.4 Aircraft Storage Unit, later renamed No.24 Maintenance Unit.[7]

The first based operational squadron was No. 78 Squadron RAF which flew from Ternhill as an detachment flying the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley IVA from June 1939 until August 1939.[8]

Ternhill then turned into a fighter airfield with Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes with the first fighter squadron arriving on 10 October 1939. The squadron was No. 611 Squadron RAF with the Spitfire I and stayed until 13 December 1940.[9] The next squadron was No. 46 Squadron RAF with the Hurricane I as a detachment from the main squadron which was based at RAF Digby in Lincolnshire. The detachment arrived on 13 June 1940 and stayed until 1 September 1940.[10] The next squadron is residence was No. 306 Squadron RAF with their Hurricane I's from 7 November 1940 staying until 3 April 1941.[11]

On 30 May 1941 a new squadron arrived in the shape of No. 403 Squadron RAF with flew three versions of the Spitfire, the marks I, IIA and VB. The squadron moved to RAF Hornchurch on 4 August 1941.[12] During late March 1941 No. 605 Squadron RAF moved in with their Hurricane IIA's but they only stayed for two months leaving on 30 May 1941.[13]

The last fighter squadron to be posted to Ternhill was No. 131 Squadron RAF which arrived on 6 August 1941 with their Spitfire IA and IIA's before leaving on 27 September 1941.[2]

The airfield then began to host training units such as No. 5 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit which arrived on 1 April 1942 and left on 12 April 1946.[14]

The following units were posted to RAF Ternhill at some point:[14]

  • A detachment of No. 6 Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit between 2 April and 1941
  • A detachment of No. 52 Operational Training Unit between September 1942 and October 1942
  • No. 10 Flying Training School between 1 January 1936 and 1 November 1940
  • No. 4 Aircraft Storage Unit between 1 June 1937 and 10 February 1938
  • No. 24 Stores Unit between 10 February and 28 March 1938
  • No. 15 Personnel Transit Centre between 23 August 1939 and unknown
  • Training Command Communication Flight between September 1939 and 12 January 1940
  • No. 25 Group Communication Flight between March 1940 and 23 April 1947
  • No. 5 Service Flying Training School between 16 November 1940 and 1 April 1942
  • No. 22 Group Communication Flight between 1 August 1943 and 1 April 1964
  • No. 10 Service Flying Training School[3]
  • 29th Training Wing[3]
  • No. 30 Maintenance Unit RAF[3]

In 1942 the maintenance unit site was renamed RAF Stoke Heath.[14]


RAF Ternhill in 1962 with the main station hangars at the rear. A preserved Japanese Kawasaki Oscar is displayed in the foreground.

From 30 April 1946 Tern Hill was the home of No. 6 Flying Training School RAF[14] equipped with North American Harvards, receiving Percival Prentices in late 1948 and from July 1953 Percival Provost T1 piston engine training aircraft replaced both types.[15] Ternhill was one of the RAF stations that provided the first stage of the, then, new Provost/de Havilland Vampire pilot training programme.[16] However, on 24 July 1961 the school moved out and the space was quickly filled by the Central Flying School Helicopter Wing which moved in on 18 August 1961.[14]

In 1962 No. 3 Mobile Glider Servicing Party was posted to Ternhill to prepare to assist No. 632 Volunteer Gliding School which was posted to Ternhill on 6 October 1963. During March 1976 CFSHW was posted to another airfield and was replaced by No. 2 (Advanced) Flying Training School RAF on 1 March. However they stay was short and on 8 October 1976 the unit was posted elsewhere and the site was used by No. 2 Flying Training School as a relief landing ground (RLG) which lasted until 30 March 1997.[14]

The airfield side of RAF Ternhill is used as a RLG by the Defence Helicopter Flying School who were posted here on 30 March 1997 with the accommodation side being turned over to the Army on 31 December 1976 initially into Borneo Barracks[14] before being changed to Clive Barracks.[17]



  1. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 53.
  2. ^ a b c d Jefford 2001, p. 59.
  3. ^ a b c d "Tern Hill (Stoke Heath)". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 51.
  5. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 30.
  6. ^ Smith, 1981, p. 190
  7. ^ Smith, 1981, pp. 190-191
  8. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 48.
  9. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 100.
  10. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 40.
  11. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 85.
  12. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 89.
  13. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 99.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g "RAF Ternhill". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Sturtivant, 1997, p. 153
  16. ^ "UK Military Aircraft". Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  17. ^ "1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment". Ministry of Defence (MoD). Retrieved 5 June 2013. 


  • Jefford, C.G, MBE, BA, RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Smith, David J. (1981). Action Stations 3. Military airfields of Wales and the North-West. Cambridge: Patrick Stephens Limited. ISBN 0-85059-485-5. 
  • Sturtivant, R.C. (1997). Royal Air Force Flying Training and Support Units. Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-252-1. 

External links[edit]