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:

Inspector's concerns over Northern Gateway strategy

Oxford Mail: Bob Price, Oxford City Council

6:30am Saturday 20th December 2014

CONCERNS have been raised about plans submitted for Oxford’s Northern Gateway business park by a Government inspector.

Comedy filmed in Wallingford to air on TV on Christmas Eve + video

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Saturday 20th December 2014

A TV comedy filmed at Wallingford Town Hall has been given one of the BBC’s top slots in the Christmas schedule.

Lead nurse for John Radcliffe's living donor programme tells of pride in her work

Oxford Mail:

6:00am Saturday 20th December 2014

MOST organ transplant patients will under go under the knife for the life-changing operation only once in their lives.

UPDATE: Car fire and oil spillage closes A40 near Ducklington and A34 car fire cause delays

Oxford Mail: A40 alert

4:03pm Friday 19th December 2014

A CAR fire and oil spillage closed the A40 westbound causing severe delays.

Motorcyclist 'punches pensioner and hits his car windscreen with helmet' after Cutteslowe crash

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

12:00pm Friday 19th December 2014

A PENSIONER was “severely” injured when he was attacked in his car by a motorcyclist in Cutteslowe, police said.

UPDATE: Body found after motorhome fire at caravan site near Chipping Norton

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

11:30am Friday 19th December 2014

A BODY was found after a fire at a caravan site motorhome.

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