Wroughton Airfield

Planning for Wroughton Airfield begin before the start of World War II. It was to prove to be a valuable asset during the war years, as it is reported that over 7,000 aircraft of approximately 60 different types underwent modification, service, or repair by No. 15 Maintenance Unit (MU) . Beginning in 1941 the packing of aircraft into large crates for shipment overseas was handled by another Wroughton unit, No. 76 MU.

In late 1943 Wroughton became an assembly point for many of the Airspeed Horsa gliders that during the following June played a key part in the D-Day invasion of France. During the build-up to D-Day the mostly-wooden gliders were transported to Wroughton in sections that were pre-fabricated by woodworkers of the cabinet and furniture maker trades. Upon arrival the sections were assembled, and flight-tested. It has been reported that on the eve of the invasion that almost 600 aircraft were on-site.

With the end of the conflict there was no longer a need for a large air force of wartime proportions, and as a result Wroughton received demobilised Avro Lancaster bombers, most of which ended up as scrap metal. Meanwhile, Wroughton was home to continued work on Avro Lincoln and Gloster Meteor jets. By 1953 yet another type was in the skies over Wroughton, the English Electric Canberra bomber. For the next 19 years Wroughton was to provide support for this important aircraft. During the 1950s, aging aircraft such as the de Havilland Mosquito and more Lancasters made ferry flights to Wroughton, where most of them met their fate on a scrapheap. A notable exception was Lancaster PA474, which after an overhaul in the early 1960s joined the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, of which it is still a member today.

In the 1960s, Wroughton became host to Westland helicopters, but its life as an RAF installation ended by 1972, when the Royal Navy took over – largely because the RN took over responsibility for servicing all military helicopters. This continued until Wroughton closed (as a military airfield) in 1978. Shortly after, Wroughton was given a new lease on life by becoming a storage annex for part of the Science Museum’s aircraft collection, and other exhibits.

Princess Alexandra’s RAF Hospital Wroughton

RAF Wroughton was also home to the RAF Princess Alexandra Hospital, providing full hospital services to the Armed forces personnel, their families and the local civilian population. It closed in the late 1990s. It was staffed and run by the Royal Air Force and the Army Medical Services.

Work commenced on the foundations in June 1939. The two-storey H shaped building was to provide 260 beds and house modern departments The RAF General Hospital as it was
known then opened on 14 June 1941 under the command of Gp.Capt. EC Foreman. By
October 1943 eight additional wards had been constructed. At the end of March
1944 the bed capacity was raised to 1000 – SECO hutting with inter-connecting
corridors added a further 350 beds. Wroughton’s busiest period followed the
allied landings in Normandy on D-Day. The first casualties arrived on 13 June,
landing at RAF Lyneham and being ferried by a fleet of ambulances to
Wroughton.  A team of 8 medical officers met the casualties and assessed the
treatment required before the men were taken to the wards by Italian PoW
porters. In the 6-months following D-Day 4,811 casualties passed through

Wroughton continued as a General Hospital treating military patients, and from
1958 took NHS cases as well to relieve backlogs in the Swindon
area.  It was the reception centre for aeromedical evacuation
flights which landed at Brize Norton and provided trained aeromed escort teams
for missions anywhere in the world.
Following a visit to the hospital by Princess Alexandra on 4 July 1967, the
Queen conferred the prefix “Princess Alexandra’s” on the hospital on 4 October
1967.   When the hostages from Beirut were released in August 1991, Wg Cdr
Gordon Turnbull a psychiatrist based at Wroughton, with his team, debriefed John
McCarthy, Terry Waite and Jackie Mann and provided the counselling necessary to
ease them back into freedom.
The hospital closed on 31 March 1996 a victim of defence cuts by the government.

Alexandra Park and The Limes were created on the site of the old RAF hospital.   The land taken to creat the RAF Airfield and Hospital consisted of land from 3 farms in the area, Overtown Farm which is still in existence and Parsloes Farm and Rectory Farm, both these farms were destroyed when the hospital was built.

When the development was in its  first stages Wroughton Parish Council were asked to suggest road names.  Below is a list of the road names together  with their history:

Cosford  Close
A wooden hutted hospital  near Wolverhampton.  Built during World War 2 – now gone.

Halton Crescent
The first purpose built  hospital for the RAF, built in the 1920s.   It stands of the edge on the Chiltern Hills  near Wendover and took its name from Princess Mary.

Nocton Road
Again a large hutted  hospital attached to a large country house near Lincoln.   Built for the Americans during World War 2 and taken over by the RAF in  the late 1940s.

Headley  Close
Still used it is a joint  service medical rehabilitation centre built near Leatherhead in Surrey.  Known as Headley Court it  was the former home of the Cunliffe family of LNER Fame.  Numerous additions such as remedial pools,  gyms, x-ray department and admin buildings have been added and it also takes a  small number of NHS patients.

Canberra Road
After a Canberra B2 bomber  WJ 676, that acted as a ‘gate guardian’ at the north east corner of the  site.  WJ 676 was eventually a victim of  the weather and replaced by a jet provest XN 584 now at Bruntingthorpe near Leicester and could fly again.

Falkland Road
After the campaign of 1982  when casualties from the conflict were treated, and also some Falkland  islanders.  They would be flown to RAF  Brize Norton and came to the hospital later by road or helicopter.

Normandy Road
This is to commemorate the  vital role of the hospital following D Day (6 June 1944) when hundreds of casualties were  treated.

Whittingham Drive
This is after Air Marshall  Sir Harold Whittingham who planned and oversaw the hospital and its twin at Ely  in Cambridgeshire.  It was this  inspiration that made it all happen at Wroughton.

Rectory  Close
After the farm that was  demolished to make room for the hospital.

Parsloes  Close
After the farm that was  demolished to make room for the hospital.