Beginning to 1945

The following information is based on information from Wikipedia (I’ll update where necessary)

The beginning: 1930s into war

During the build-up to the Second World War, the Air Ministry began constructing major airfields across the United Kingdom under what was known as the Expansion Period. RAF Little Rissington was one of these airfields.

Royal Air Force Station Little Rissington officially opened in 1938, comprising the domestic site and a grass airfield and is seen as the home of the Central flying School. Building of the station began in 1936 on top of a hill which, at 750 ft above sea level, made it the highest airfield in regular use in the country. The unusual met situations this created was food for Examanier’s questions to the would be A2 candidate over many years. The first unit to serve there was No 6 Service Flying Training School who were joined by No 8 Maintenance Unit which specialised in the preparation, storage and issue of aircraft. For a short period at the start of the war, the station supported the Accountant Officers’ School and the Equipment Training School.

In 1941 the runway was laid and as the demand for pilots increased, No 6 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit was formed in 1942.

During 1942, three asphalt runways were laid. Extra land was added to accommodate Sites A to E. Later in the war, the main runway 05/23 was extended northerly (later to become the main runway for instrument landings), 09/27 and 14/32 were extended easterly and south-easterly respectively.

Although the unit was disbanded three years later, it trained 5,444 pilots who collectively gained 705 awards for gallantry, including 4 Victoria Crosses. At the end of the war No 6 Flying Training School was reformed on the station and then moved to RAF Tern Hill the following year in preparation for the arrival of CFS.

Up to 1945 the station accommodated No. 6 Service Flying Training School and No. 8 Maintenance Unit. No. 8 Maintenance Unit was originally designated No. 8 Aircraft Storage Unit (ASU), however as the Second World War increased its momentum, so did the number of aircraft being stored. During the mid-1940s dispersal areas began openly storing aircraft, that had arrived straight from the manufacture. Due to security concerns, the level of security protection stepped up during the war, including the Station’s own fighter force of several Spitfires. Later in the war, various satellite airfields were used to spread out the increased number of aircraft.

2 thoughts on “Beginning to 1945

  1. My mother, Audrey Evelyn Pill, as a very young girl worked on the aircraft under camouflage nets during the war, in all winds and weathers, she worked on just about every plane that flew during the war. She and her sister used to go to fabulous dances in the old hangers and she danced with many nationalities of pilots who went through RAF Little Rissington. She is now 94 and her memory is still sharp regarding those days.

    1. Dear Lindsay,

      We have a family relative who was at Little Rissington too; sadly she died a while ago, so we’re trying to fill in some of the gaps in her life for her remaining siblings. Her name was Marie Leavy; she was Irish – perhaps you might ask your mother if she remembers anyone of that name? From the photos that we have it would seem that they did have some fun,despite all the mayhem going on!

      Many thanks,


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