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RAF Harwell in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

The Wartime Memories Project

- RAF Harwell during the Second World War -

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RAF Harwell

   RAF Harwell near the village of Harwell, 17 miles (27 km) north west of Reading, was constructed in 1935 and opened on February 1937 as a grass air field. At the outbreak of the Second World War, it became part of No. 38 Group, Bomber Command. Concrete runways were added between July and November 1941. In March 1944, Harwell was reallocated to 30 Group Airborne Forces which operated tug aircraft towing Airspeed Horsa gliders in preparation for the landings in Normandy on D-Day. RAF Harwell was also used for Special Operations Executive operations between July and September 1944. The airfield closed in 1945 and the site is now home to the Atomic Energy Research Establishment. A D-Day memorial to the men who flew from RAF Harwell is situated edge of the old airfield and a memorial service is held there annually.

Squadrons based at RAF Harwell:

  • No. 75 Squadron RAF.
  • No. 105 Squadron RAF.
  • No. 107 Squadron RAF.
  • No. 148 Squadron RAF.
  • No. 215 Squadron RAF.
  • No. 226 Squadron RAF.
  • No. 295 Squadron RAF.
  • No. 570 Squadron RAF.
  • No. 15 Operational Training Unit.


4th September 1939 Relocation

19th Sept 1939 Training flight crash

25th September 1939 Training reorganised

4th April 1940 New Squadron titles

Oct 1941  

21st Jan 1944 Wellington Lost

If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

Those known to have served at

RAF Harwell

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

The Wartime Memories Project is the original WW1 and WW2 commemoration website.


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Feb 2018 - Please note we currently have a large backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site. If you have already submitted a story to the site and your UID reference number is higher than 239080, your information is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.


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Did you know? We also have a section on The Great War. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.

Henrietta "Ettie" Stephenson

My Grandmother, Henrietta Stephenson taught service men how to swim for which she won an award. She also "worked with photographs" and "prayed for the safe return of all pilots". I couldn't really understand her job. That is all she spoke of to her Grandchildren 30 years after the war.

I have since learned from my father that she was a photographic interpreter. When I asked my father where she was stationed he said "All personnel involved were located where there were reconnaissance planes and at one time this was Harwell, Didcot, Berkshire. My father was sent to live with many different families while his Mum served in the WAAF. There was so much secrecy. My father snuck away from those billeting him in the Blackburn area to visit his Mum. It sounds like he got a bit of a scolding and a traumatic experience. He had gone all the way on bike to see her! When he was on his way home towns and villages that had stood as he travelled through on his way to visit his Mum has been very badly bombed! He was only eleven. This would be in 1940. I think the town he referred to was Haslingden.

Carol Stephenson Loucks

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