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Thread: Fencing of WW2 airbases

  1. #1
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    Fencing of WW2 airbases

    Hi guys I have been asked to find out a strange one. Can you tell me what the standard security fencing was like on WW2 bases ? Particularly those built during the war like Aldermarston, Membury and Greenham common also were these documented in any way? Did the presence of common land, which should not be enclosed by law, affect the security aspect?
    Will also ask on the AIX forum.
    thanks
    Rob

  2. #2
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    You mean the actual type of fence?

    All the bases I have ventured on usually had a chain link fencing on concrete cranked top posts (head out) with three strand barbed wire on the top (total height about 12') - I expect there will be an Air Ministry, or other body, manual specifying a standard.
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  3. #3
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    I think you'll find that on most of the bases constructed after the fear of invasion had receded the fencing was very rudimentary.

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  4. #4
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    Thanks, I didn't know they had that sort of fencing in WW2. Can anybody tell me if all bases were fenced in during WW2 or were some more open than others? Basically i have been asked if I can prove a site was fenced in during WW2 to over come a planning/legal technically. I don't believe I really can. As I said its a strange one.

  5. #5
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    I have seen photos of airfield perimeter fences which were just short concrete posts and three or four strands of wire - you could just jump over them.

    As airborne invasion was seen as a possible threat, high fences were probably seen as pointless?
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  6. #6
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    Don't know about other airfields, but as young boys during WW2 we used to cycle to several in the Midlands and try to get as close as possible to the runways to watch aircraft landing. I can't remember any fences, and since we approached via farmland, back lanes, and through fields as unobtrusively as possible we never got caught or warned. At one place near Newark we got so close to the threshold that pilots of the Lancasters landing must have seen us just underneath their wheels before touchdown. At another, Langar, we actually got onto the field and into an aircraft. So at that late point of the war, when the worry about invasion was over, security must have been pretty lax.

  7. #7
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    The only original wartime airfield fencing I have come across is three strands of wire held up by rough concrete posts, maybe 10 foot spacing. There may be some left at the site in question. Easy to miss them. I agree there will be a 'book' specifying the design somewhere in the National Archives.

  8. #8
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    We have found evidence at Hunsdon of barbed wire coils strung on four foot long angle iron posts. Huge amounts of wire pickets and barbed wire is to be found all around the airfield and has been bulldozed into heaps that brambles and nettles have colonized.
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  9. #9
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    Barbed wire was used on my father's 15th AF base.
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  10. #10
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    Thanks for the input guys. It looks like by 42-43 the RAF had given up on permanent fencing, probably due to the scale of providing it? I have since had a word with somebody who was a teenager at the time and he can remember sitting on some old air raid shelters watching aircraft come back from missions without a fence in sight. Apparently it was a regular local sunday family outing.

  11. #11
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    Rob, what is the base in question? Maybe we can all look for photographs?
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  12. #12
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    "At one place near Newark we got so close to the threshold that pilots of the Lancasters landing must have seen us just underneath their wheels before touchdown"

    ..Would that have been Syerston? I've always found it interesting that the main road of the time cuts through the site there - with some dispersal pans seemingly on the far side of the road from the actual airfield. I did wonder how that would work from a security point of view.

    Clearly there wouldn't have been a lot of non-essential traffic around, but the vision of pottering along in your Morris 8 or whatever, only to find a Lancaster suddenly pulling out in front of you is one to conjur with.

  13. #13
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    Hi its a question specific to one site and related to future planning issues so can not divulge where. Basically it matters if I can prove that the site was ever fully fenced in, I have no idea why. I just wanted to know what the general situation was like in WW2, and if this place was unique in bot being fully fenced in.

  14. #14
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    Here at RAF Metheringham the airfield operated dispersed sites with a picket post entrance at each one and it only seems as if the Operations complex/ Station HQ area was ringed with a fence. The airfield is 660 acres so no perimeter fence. Fencing seems to be a Cold War luxuary.

  15. #15
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    Replying to Mahone. No, I'm almost sure it was Winthorpe. As for Syerston, which was closer to my home, I can't remember any taxiways etc. crossing the Fosse (the adjacent main road).

  16. #16
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    I have a photo of Ford which shows part of the perimeter 'fence' which was simply barbed-wire coils. For what it's worth!
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  17. #17
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    Part of RAF Winthorpe was fenced (not sure how securely) - several verbal reference to the locals delivering new arriving airmen to an area near the current Friendly Farmer roundabout complex (A1, A46 & A17) rather than the Station entrance up Beacon Hill (now Coddington housing estate). This resulted in the 'fence' being cut and a temporary 'pathway' created up to the proper entrance - the end result was that many new arrivals were 'late' getting to wartime RAF Winthorpe. (I believe that it was referenced as being part of a "Newark sense of humour!")

    Not sure if it is covered in this book http://www.newarkairmuseum.org/RAF_Winthorpe_Book

    As for RAF Syerston, IIRC one of the runways / taxiways cut the old A46 not far from Long Hedge Lane and headed east (?) towards Syerston village and close to the location of the Officers Mess - I'm sure Tim O-Brien's book might clarify this. Until the new A46 road was put in a local farmer used much of the former concrete areas for beet storage.
    Last edited by TwinOtter23; 7th July 2017 at 16:15. Reason: Typos
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  18. #18
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    Teekay - I imagine you were quite spoilt for choice - a good few options locally for spotting! Don't want to hijack the thread, but what Twin Otter describes I think is what I remember - a taxiway to a couple of dispersals on the "other" side of the Fosse, by the Officer's Mess. I have a 1942 aerial photo which seems to show them - and three or four more across another another road (Longhedge Lane - as mentioned by T/O above). You can also see some remains still on google maps etc. It just always struck me as an odd arrangement to seemingly have public roads through what you'd expect to be a secure site.

  19. #19
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    I've just looked at Syerston on Google Earth and does look as if there was at least a taxiway across the Fosse. And yes, there were many airfields within cycling distance. Our house was under the circuit for Newton, so spotting was good.

    Was also not far from Hucknall. I once spotted a Wellington with a long cone-like thing at the tail trailing smoke and sounding peculiar. Wrote to the editor of "Spotter" magazine and he replied it was secret. Decades later I realized I had seen airtests of the Whittle jet engine, flying from Hucknall where Rolls Royce was based. History!

  20. #20
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    If only Botophuket worked, I'd put up an image of Syerston's bottom RH corner.

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