The land which is now Dalton Army Barracks
was taken over in the late nineteen twenties by the Air Ministry. The airfield was built and in the early thirties it was
used basically as a training facility. Early in WW2 on 8th April 1940, 97 and 166 squadrons, which were based
at Abingdon, were formed into No 10 Operational Training Unit. There were around twenty- five O.T.U,s around the country and
Abingdon was to play its part in the training of young British and Commonwealth night bomber aircrew.
the war there were around 86 aircraft losses from the airfield and half of them near Abingdon. Something like 180
aircrew lost there lives while serving at Abingdon and of these 70 in the fields around Abingdon. Seven of these men are buried in
the Abingdon area. Another 42 10 OTU aircrew also lost there lives while at the nearby satellite station RAF
Stanton Harcourt, plus another 110 while on detachment at RAF St Eval.
The high ground of
Boars Hill on the north end of the airfield claimed a number of aircraft as it was right in the path of the flight training
circuit. In the memoirs of Wing Commander J C Corby who was stationed at Abingdon during the war, he clearly remembered
the problems on Boars Hill to aircraft. He stated that the early Whitleys were underpowered and their angle of climb on take
off was about the same height as Boars Hill. He also stated that they used to refer to Boars Hill as Pigs Peak.
In June 1942 10 OTU contributed to the 1000 plane bomber raids on Germany. Heads of Bomber Command needed as many
planes as possible and aircraft from Abingdon joined in on raids on the cities of Bremen, Essen and Hamburg. On the night
of 25/26th June 1942, twenty Whitleys took off from the airfield crewed by a mixture of seasoned and novice crews. From this
number fifteen claimed to have made successful attacks, while one crew was obliged to make an early return after their compass
failed. Four Whitleys crashed, two of them with all crew killed. One these planes crashed in Dalum, Holland and all the crew
are buried just over the border in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Germany.
During August 1942 a detachment
from 10 OTU at Abingdon was sent to RAF St Eval in Cornwall taking part in anti submarine patrols in the Bay of
Biscay. The unit flew 16,860 operational hours and 54 attacks were made on German U-Boats. No less than 47 Whitley aircraft were
lost during the 11 months of the operation.
From 20 March 1944 until 16 November 1944 10 OTU moved its HQ
six miles away to Stanton Harcourt whilst tarmac runways were laid at Abingdon. Vickers Wellington bombers arrived in
June 1944 and the last Whitley having left by the end of September. In December it took over the Polish flight from 18 OTU, which
remained until disbanding on 4 June 1945 with the rest of the unit following suit on 10 September 1946.
A prewar aerial view of the station and airfield at RAF Abingdon. Tarmac runways
were not laid until 1944. Most of the buildings shown are still intact today.
Post War plan of the airfield showing the Runway layout. Note the 'Frying Pan' dispersal
area still intact today at the north end of the airfield.