VE Day is coming - RAF Wilmslow

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During the second world war, and for a time afterwards, Wilmslow was home to a large RAF camp - RAF Wilmslow - known as No. 4 School of Recruit Training. It was a large camp with a variety of buildings, air raid shelters and two parade grounds. The camp closed in 1962 and since the 1980's the site has been gradually redeveloped as housing - now known as the Summerfields.

Work on the camp commenced at the outbreak of war and its role was the reception, kitting-out, basic training and accommodation of 4,000 recruits. A typical recruit arrived at the camp one week into his induction and spent 8 weeks there before being posted elsewhere. Many of the recruits based at RAF Wilmslow were female; ie WAAFs (Women's Auxiliary Air Force - renamed WRAFs in 1949). The camp had a shooting range, a cinema - The Astra - and a large SSQ - Squadron Sick Quarters ie a military hospital.

It was not an airfield although there was a Supermarine Spitfire on show as a gate guardian. It was a Spitfire Mk Vb; serial 5377M aka EP120.

This Spitfire flew 79 operational sorties with 402 Squadron, accounting for the destruction of six enemy aircraft (four Bf109s and two Fw190s). She appeared in the film "The Battle of Britain" as a static machine. She was credited with 7.5 kills during her war career, and these are marked on the side of her cockpit. In 1993-5 she was brought back into flying condition and flew again for the first time in 50 years on 12th September 1995; she had a starring role in the 2001 film "Pearl Harbour". EP120 is now based with "The Fighter Collection" at Duxford and has the markings AE-A.

Photo: RAF Wilmslow 1938 – 1962

Jon Kelly
Wilmslow Historical Society

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Wilmslow Historical Society
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Paul Roue
Wednesday 22nd April 2020 at 1:14 pm
Hello Jon Kelly.
Thank you for the interesting article on RAF Summerfields.
As residents for a number of years, do you know where we can access more images and plans?
I'm pretty certain that many other residents would love to see how the old RAF campsite 'maps over' to Summerfields, The Villas and Summerfields Village as they currently exist.
Thank you.
Hannelore Hartig
Wednesday 22nd April 2020 at 3:17 pm
Good idea Paul, I would also like to know some more.
Paul Maddock
Wednesday 22nd April 2020 at 3:53 pm
Lovely article Jon,

I remember as a child in the late 70's / early 80's hunting for spent bullets and cartridges on the section close to the railway line, as well as playing around the old pond (we were told it was a water source for fire fighter training - would you know if that was correct?) while the first phase of Summerfields was being completed. Many of the local kids spent many hours, tracing the old road ways, and exploring our very own little 'war zone'. As the 75th anniversary of VE day approaches, I would also love to see how the original site plans looked, and how they link into today's housing areas.
Regards
Steff Prest
Wednesday 22nd April 2020 at 5:34 pm
My nanna and grandad were both based at RAF Wilmslow and my mum was born in one of the married quarters on Lancaster road. When the MOD sold them off years later my parents bought one on Anson road which is where I was born and grew up. My grandad used to take me on many walks around the old camp showing me where everything was. He has written a book that documents alot of his time at RAF Wilmslow
Christopher Baker
Wednesday 22nd April 2020 at 5:46 pm
This was fascinating. My father did his basic training there, which he only mentioned when we moved to Wilmslow from London in 1990!
Roger Thawley
Wednesday 22nd April 2020 at 6:45 pm
Mapping, showing the layout of RAF Wilmslow, can be found on the National Library of Scotland website. I seem to recall that it's possible to overlay this on contemporary mapping.
Google Earth may also have some content visible through its 'time-line' feature.

I have a picture of the camp, taken from the air.
Jon Kelly
Wednesday 22nd April 2020 at 9:17 pm
Glad you like the article. Google earth has overlayable maps as Paul says. When things get back to normal there is a physical map upstairs in the Library too . The Historical Society is hoping to run our history walks this September again as part of the English Heritage Open Days (fingers crossed!). If you Google RAF Wilmslow there are some good pictures including the Spitfire.
Regards Jon Kelly.
Clive Cooksey
Wednesday 22nd April 2020 at 9:28 pm
Nice to see the RAF Wilmslow camp is back in the news again. I did my National Service "square bashing" there. It was the year 1957 and the pandemic called then was Asian flu. It started in:~ yes, you've guessed, China. By December 3550 died of it in the UK & it caused the deaths of 69,800 people in America alone. Worldwide well over a million succumbed to the illness. I caught it at RAF Wilmslow, and luckily I am still here to write this. But back in 1957/58, never in my wildest dreams would I think I would end up living in Wilmslow like I now am, and fighting another pandemic. As I am no longer 18, but 81, I am determined this one is not going to catch me.... Fingers crossed!
Steff Prest
Thursday 23rd April 2020 at 7:20 am
My grandads name is Arthur Winters I think he would have been RAF police there around 1955

My nanna was Evelyn winters. I wonder if theres still anyone around that remembers them
Gerald Farber
Friday 24th April 2020 at 5:01 pm
Hi John
I did my first eight weeks square bashing as a national serviceman at RAF Wilmslow in April/May 1956.

I was posted back sometime after and living in Manchester I was able to 'live at home' so I regularly could be seen thumbing a lift opposite the then Bluebell Pub. There were two entrances one at the Wilmslow and the other on Dean Row Rd.

Before I retired I had worked as a viewing rep for a well known Wilmslow Estate Agent which entailed viewing many properties on the Summerfields Development. I can remember remarking to one homeowner that his property was approximately on the site of the gas chamber that was used in a training exercise don't think he was impressed.
John Harries
Wednesday 6th May 2020 at 10:43 pm
Your picture is the south gate in Wilmslow Park (there was a small section of married quarters just off to the left of the picture) and the parade ground (for square bashing and inspections) was in front of the background buildings and over to the left. The south gate was used for change of intake when the newly trained 'wings' would march-off and parade to Wilmslow Station for onward postings. The north gate was the camp main entrance on Dean Row Road, pretty much where it now crosses the A34 and there was an NCO married quarters (I think these were the last of the camp properties to be built) outside the camp proper on Lincoln Road (all the roads on this estate were named after Avro aircraft built at A V Roe's factory in Woodford) and a fair number of RAF 'brats' attended local schools including Wycliffe Avenue Secondary Modern; I knew at least two boys who's fathers were Sergent PTO's. The gate guardian Spitfire, the Astra cinema and a large gymnasium were also at this end of the camp and the firing range (butts) was close and parallel to the railway line about 200M from the Dean Row Road rail bridge; there was another firing range across the Bollin in the valley just below where Stannylands Hotel is sited.
The Spitfire was replaced by a De Havilland Vampire a few years prior to the camp closure.

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