Grove was originally intended
as a training base for RAF Bomber Command (91 Gp), scheduled
to be a satellite for 15 OTU based at Harwell
Land requisition order
signed in May 1941, and contruction begins. Standard
3 concrete runway layout, aligned as 04-22, 16-34 and 09-27.
Wellingtons from 15 OTU start using the airfield.
As part of the planning
for the invasion of Europe, in 1942 Grove comes under control
of Brize Norton to train glider pilots.
During this period aircraft
using the airfield were mainly Whitleys and Horsas, although
the airspace is congested with aircraft from nearby Elementary
Flying Training Schools (EFTS).
During Feb 43, the HGCU
from Brize Norton operates from Grove whilst its runways are
In March 1943, Grove is
commandeered for 3 days by 132, 174 and 184 squadrons (Typhoons)
as they operate from here during Exercise 'Spartan'
The RAF leave Grove in
Sep 1943 to allow the 9th USAAF to build up at Grove as part
of the cross-channel invasion of Europe.
28th Oct 1943 - Ninth USAAF
Service Command is activated at Grove with Tactical Air Depot
No. 3 (3 TAD), and Grove is listed as Station 519 USAAF.
Grove is is used as a repair
and maintenace base for the C-47 (Dakota), and later the C-46
(Commando). Other aircraft seen operating from the base include
Proctors, Oxfords, UC-78 Bobcat and UC-64 Norseman.
The highly (at that time
) secret Vickors Armstrong 'Windsor' force lands on 2nd March
1944 (prototype experimental bomber), and is written off as
Grove continues to expand
as its operations include storage of equipment and spare parts
for all aircraft operated by the 9th USAAF, in addition to enginnering
for more than 3400 servicemen was constructed, in addition to
'tent city' at nearby Challow!
As the airfield increased
in size, the perimeter was expanded to include Grove village
- and two pubs! (usually out of bounds)
During May 1944, thousands
of gallons of black and white paint arrive at Grove - for distribution
to all 9th USAAF bases to paint invasion stripes on aircraft.
Following D-Day, and the
destruction of two 'Mulberry' harbours, Grove becomes the busiest
airfield in Europe when supplies have to be flown out to Normandy,
including millions of gallons of fuel nicknamed 'Gas for Patton'.
Aircraft used included
C-47's, converted B-17's and B-24's. Grove bomb store now becomes
a huge fuel depot with thousands of jerrycans used to contain
Meanwhile, 3 TAD continues
to maintain the 9th's aircraft, which include Mustangs, Thunderbolts,
Lightnings, Havocs and Mauraders.
Glenn Miller and his band
play at Grove on 12th August 1944. Other popular figures to
visit include Bob Hope and Frances Langford
In Feb 1945, the 415th
(?) Night Fighter Sqn operate from the airfield until May, using
Grove is gradually wound
down at the end of the war and is handed back to the RAF in
1946. Spare accommodation is used to house German POW's who
were used to demolish redundant buildings, as well as assist
at local farms.
RAF No. 256 MU moves in
and is used to for the disposal of much redundant equipment.
No 6 MU temporarily uses the airfield to service captured German
2 TAF use the airfield
in the early 1950's, and it is maintained on a 'care & maintenance'
In Dec 1955 the west part
of the airfield is handed over to the UK Atomic Energy Authority
(UKAEA) as a satellite to Harwell.
The secrecy of the activities
at Grove require that the airfield runways are removed - especially
as a USAF jet lands accidentally, being lost and low on fuel
(and airspace above is marked as restricted).
The UKAEA stay at Grove
until the late 1960's, when the project comes to a conclusion.
The site is sold off to private organisations, such as 'Metalbox'.
Much of the east of the
airfield is redeveloped and is now a large housing estate.