D-DAY: Demolished airfield’s D-Day missions set to be honoured

The demolition of part of the runway at the former RAF Broadwell base near Carterton.   Pictures: Mark Hemsworth

The demolition of part of the runway at the former RAF Broadwell base near Carterton. Pictures: Mark Hemsworth

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

AN AIRFIELD used as part of the D-Day operations has been demolished to make way for one of the biggest solar farms in the UK.

Workmen were on the RAF Broadwell site at Kencot Hill Farm, near Carterton, last week to dig up a 600m stretch of the last remaining runway.

It operated as an RAF station from 1943 to 1947 and had two squadrons based there – 512 and 575 – that were involved in the biggest seaborne invasion in history, launched 70 years ago today.

Air crews used it during the Second World War as a training base, learning to tow gliders and drop paratroopers. Its first role was a leaflet drop over France on the eve of the Normandy invasion.

It was then used as a base for air crews dropping parachutists in France and Arnhem, as well as evacuating casualties from France back to England.

Philip Bell, an Australian who was in a Commonwealth training programme, was a navigator based there in 575 Squadron.

Oxford Mail:

Pegasus Bridge just after D-Day

His daughter Ruth said he flew one of about 20 DC-3 Dakota planes in the 13th Parachute Batallion of the 6th Airborne Division to transport paratroopers to Normandy at midnight on D-Day morning, June 6, 1944.

Their mission was to help hold the vital Pegasus Bridge and Ranville Bridge river crossings on the Orne and the Caen Canal to stop the Germans sending reinforcements to the beaches.

As part of Operation Mallard, the crew returned in the evening towing Airspeed Horsa gliders with reinforcements including anti-tank guns.

Mrs Bell, who lives in Australia but is currently in Normandy marking the D-Day anniversary, said: “I tried to find the RAF Broadwell site five years ago and it seemed to have very few indications of its former life. No one knew anything about it in the village. It would be fitting to have some sort of memorial there if the locals are happy to have the solar farm.

“Some recognition of these heroes and the other missions from Broadwell would be appreciated by family members of the airmen.”

The solar farm is the brainchild of farm owner Tad Czapski, an ex-Formula 1 technology director for Ferrari and Renault.

He said there were originally three runways on the base – later used as a stop-off for long-range transport operations to Europe, the Middle East and India – but two have been removed as well as part of the last one. A 600m stretch will be kept as a tribute to its use in the war, with a viewing box created with information about the airfield.

The solar farm will include 144,000 panels that will generate enough electricity for the National Grid to power 10,000 homes and businesses.

A control tower also used in the war is on a separate plot of land. West Oxfordshire District Council rejected plans to turn it into a home two years ago.

  • For more on Pegasus Bridge, see our special supplement

• Our top stories:

Horse killed in crash near Steeple Aston

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

2:26pm Sunday 23rd November 2014

A HORSE was killed after it collided with a car near Steeple Aston yesterday.

Gritters out tonight as mercury plummets across Oxfordshire

Oxford Mail: Gritter lorries get ready to set out last night

2:17pm Sunday 23rd November 2014

OXFORDSHIRE is set for a cold snap tonight and tomorrow with temperatures as low as -2C expected in some parts of the county.

Have you seen missing 23-year-old Kerri Hutt from Witney?

Oxford Mail:

11:51am Sunday 23rd November 2014

A WOMAN from Witney has been missing since Friday.

Attack in Oxford city centre leaves two men needing hospital treatment

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

6:24pm Saturday 22nd November 2014

TWO men were assaulted in Oxford city centre last weekend.

What have our brilliant columnists said this week - choose your favourite in our interactive collage

Oxford Mail:

4:00pm Saturday 22nd November 2014

Just what have our thought-provoking columnists been writing about this week? Catch up with our interactive collage giving you a choice from 9 of the best

Our interactive spread of the week's best photos: but what are the stories behind the pictures

Oxford Mail:

3:00pm Saturday 22nd November 2014

We've had some wonderful pictures this week - here's our interactive spread with links to the stories behind the photos

Comments (3)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:31am Fri 6 Jun 14

King Joke says...

It is little known that Hinksey Railway Yard was also built to handle the traffic of materiel down to the south coast to support the Normandy Landings.
It is little known that Hinksey Railway Yard was also built to handle the traffic of materiel down to the south coast to support the Normandy Landings. King Joke
  • Score: 0

10:17am Sat 7 Jun 14

jimm says...

Probably little known because the sidings were opened in 1942, as part of a series of wartime capacity enhancements on the city's railways, which began in 1940 with the laying of the goods loops to Wolvercot junction and the installation of Oxford North junction to provide a proper link between the GWR and LMS lines to serve the new ordnance depot at Bicester.
Probably little known because the sidings were opened in 1942, as part of a series of wartime capacity enhancements on the city's railways, which began in 1940 with the laying of the goods loops to Wolvercot junction and the installation of Oxford North junction to provide a proper link between the GWR and LMS lines to serve the new ordnance depot at Bicester. jimm
  • Score: 0

7:58am Mon 9 Jun 14

King Joke says...

I stand corrected! Ta.

I live very close to Hinksey so it's always good to know more about it.
I stand corrected! Ta. I live very close to Hinksey so it's always good to know more about it. King Joke
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree