1945-1991: Cold War world Wiki
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RAF Upavon.
Category. Statistic.
Location. UK.
Opened in. 1912.
Closed in. Still oped.
Operated by. Royal Flying Corps 1914-1918, Royal Air Force 1918-1993 and British Army 1993 - Present.
Owned by. The British M.O.D.
Outside link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Upavon, https://www.forcesreunited.co.uk/Units/711/raf-upavon and https://www.forcesreunited.co.uk/Units/711/raf-upavon.


Trenchard Lines is a major British Army headquarters at the former RAF Upavon. As the former Royal Air Force Station Upavon, more commonly known as RAF Upavon, it was a grass airfield, military flight training school, and administrative headquarters of the Royal Air Force. The station motto was In Principio Et Semper, and translated from Latin means "In the Beginning and Always". The station crest had a pterodactyl rising from rocks, which symbolised the station's connection with the early days of flying, and was also a reference to the location of the station near to the ancient monument Stonehenge

Construction began on 19 June 1912, on some training gallops, on an elevated site about 1.5 mi (2.4 km) east of Upavon village, near the edge of the Salisbury Plain, in the English county of Wiltshire. The RAF site is unusual, in that it is bisected by a public highway, the A342 – with the airfield and hangars on the south side of the road, and all the administrative (and some technical) buildings and accommodation on the north side.

Upavon Airfield was originally created for pilots of the military and naval wings of the newly formed Royal Flying Corps (RFC), and became home to the army Central Flying School (CFS). Captain Godfrey M Paine, RN, became the first commandant, with Major Hugh Trenchard being his assistant. Trenchard later became the chief of air staff, and subsequently became known as the "father of the Royal Air Force".



Construction began on 19 June 1912, on some training gallops, on an elevated site about 1.5 mi (2.4 km) east of Upavon village, near the edge of the Salisbury Plain, in the English county of Wiltshire.

Pre WWII[]

During 1913 the first night landing made in England was achieved at Upavon, by Lieutenant Cholmondley. At some time during the same year, Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, was a passenger on a flight by a Farman MF.7 biplane while visiting Upavon.

Two officers of the CFS at Upavon developed the bomb sight between 1914–1915, and this was used in a very successful manner at the Western Front. For a short period of time during 1917, Upavon was used as an "air fighting school".

On 1 April 1918 the Royal Flying Corps became the Royal Air Force, and Upavon became Royal Air Force Station Upavon, commonly abbreviated to RAF Upavon. Accordingly, the former Army Central Flying School became Royal Air Force Central Flying School (RAF CFS). The RAF CFS became the centre of training of all RAF flying instructors. Upavon is therefore referred to as the "birthplace" of the Royal Air Force.

During August 1935, the Central Flying School was to return to Upavon. At some time during May 1938, the Monarch of the United Kingdom, His Majesty King George VI visited the CFS at Upavon.

Twenty four years later, military aviation was to mark its 50th anniversary. On 16 June 1962, Upavon held a static, and flying display, and this was attended by Prince Philip.

World War II[]

During the Second World War, the CFS was moved from Upavon to take up residence at RAF Little Rissington, Gloucestershire. During this time, Upavon simply became a flying training school. It saw little front-line action and took only a supportive role.

Cold War[]

Following the end of World War II, Upavon became home to Headquarters No.38 Group. Subsequently, HQ RAF Transport Command arrived at Upavon. For most of the 1950s, No.38 Group disbanded, but during 1960, it reformed again. It became clear that Upavon was simply too small to accommodate two HQs, so a short while after, No.38 Group relocated to RAF Odiham, Hampshire. The newly created headquarters building for transport command was developed throuought the 1960s, and in 1969 a substantial new wing was added. In the intervening years, on 1 August 1967, transport command was renamed Air Support Command.

It was a proposed Blue Streak missile/rocket launch site, but was soon turned down after it was believed that the missiles would be better off in silos at RAF Spadeadam and would be test launched at Woomera Test Range in Australia due to the large open spaces available down under.

The 1970s saw many changes to the overall structure of the Royal Air Force. On 1 September 1972, the former RAF Transport Command, now RAF Air Support Command, was merged with RAF Strike Command. On the same date, No.46 Group was reformed at Upavon, which meant that Upavon was to maintain a long-standing link with RAF transport services.

Amalgamations continued, and on 10 November 1975, No.38 and No.46 groups were merged into one, with No.38 Group keeping the title. At this time, No.38 Group returned to Upavon, and became the largest group in the RAF.

Nearly eight years later, reorganisation was again at the forefront of Upavon. On 17 November 1983, No.38 Group merged with No.1 Group, and Upavon became home to Headquarters No.1 Group RAF.

Post-Cold War[]

In its latter RAF years the grass runways were not wholly appropriate for heavy fixed-wing aircraft, nor any kind of jet aircraft, and so the administrative control of aviation for the whole of the RAF developed in strength at Upavon. HQ No.1 Group was a major component of RAF 'life' at Upavon, controlling operations of the large fleet of transport aircraft.

However, aviation, particularly training at Upavon continued, with the grass runways and tarmac taxiways being used for training purposes by various RAF rotary-wing helicopters, and RAF C-130 Hercules. It was also home to gliding, mainly winch launched. The RAF Air Cadets, known as the Air Training Corps, used static winch-launched gliders of No. 622 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS), along with the Army Gliding Association (AGA) Wyvern Gliding Club (which used self-propelled, winch-launched, and aero-towed gliders). These activities still continue at this present time.

As a result of major reorganisation of the entire structure of the Royal Air Force in the early 1990s, RAF Upavon became surplus to requirements, and the RAF was to permanently withdraw from Upavon. On 3 August 1993, the RAF officially handed over RAF Upavon to the British Army.


Many of the buildings at Upavon still stand from its original construction. The officers' mess is a fine example of British military architecture. It was built in 1915, and prior to the RAF's departure from Upavon, was the oldest RAF officers' mess in use. It is designated as a Grade II* listed building.

One of the smaller administrative buildings housed the Trenchard Museum, which contained exhibits and artefacts dedicated to Lord Trenchard, the founder of the Royal Air Force. However the ravages of time were not kind to this building, so a new home had to be found for the artefacts. The contents of the Trenchard Museum were therefore moved to RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire.

Also see[]

  1. Blue Streak missile/rocket
  2. Noteworthy Air bases