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Historic England Research Records

Raf Hornchurch

Hob Uid: 1393680
Location :
Greater London Authority
Havering
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : TQ5300084500
Summary : A former military airfield which saw service in both World Wars. It was established at (and named after) Sutton's Farm in 1915 as a Home Defence station against German Zepplin and Gotha bomber raids on London. Aircraft from Sutton's farm were the first to shoot down a Zepplin over England. Part of Number 39 Squadron and later 46 and 78 Squadrons were stationed at the airfield during World War One. Most of the wooden World War One airfield buildings were demolished in 1919 when the land returned to its peacetime owner. In 1922 the military began moves to restablish a presence. The base was not reopened until 1928; it lay to the west of the original site. It was renamed RAF Hornchurch and was equipped with a range of permanent technical and domestic buildings. In 1936 a type C aircraft hangar was added. Following the Munich crisis the three squadrons at Hornchurch were equipped with Spitfires. In 1940 during the Dunkirk evacuation and the Battle of Britain the airfield played a major role as a Sector Airfield of the hard pressed 11 Group of Fighter Command. During the battle the airfield was used by 65, 74, 54,41, 266, 600, 264 and 604 Squadrons. The airfield was bombed on 20 occasions. The base's Spitfires were protected in "E" shaped dispersed blast pens. After the closure of the airfield in 1962 much of the airfield was used for gravel extraction. The officers' mess survives: please see record 1010751 for further details. Some pillboxes, further rare Tett turrets and a blast pen have also been identified, along with anti aircraft gun emplacements and a range finder. A number of finds relating to the Second World War use of the site including spent munitions, items of kit, ceramics and part of an aircraft cockpit instrumentation have also been found. Part of the former airfield is now Hornchurch Country Park.
More information : Sutton's Farm Airfield (Hornchurch). It was established at (and named after) Sutton's Farm in 1915 as a Home Defence station against German Zepplin and Gotha bomber raids on London. Aircraft from Sutton's Farm were the first to shoot down a Zepplin over England. Part of Number 39 Squadron and later 46 and 78 Squadrons were stationed at the airfield during World War One. Most of the wooden World War One airfield buildings were demolished in 1919 when the land returned to its peacetime owner. In 1922 the military began moves to restablish a presence. The base was not reopened until 1928; it lay to the west of the original site. It was renamed RAF Hornchurch and was equipped with a range of permanent technical and domestic buildings. In 1936 a type C aircraft hangar was added. Following the Munich crisis the three squadrons at Hornchurch were equipped with Spitfires. (1)

In 1940 during the Dunkirk evacuation and the Battle of Britain the airfield played a major role as a Sector Airfield of the hard pressed 11 Group of Fighter Command. The airfield was bombed on 20 occasions. Part of the former airfield site around the officers mess was made a conservation area in 1989. After the closure of the airfield in 1962 much of the airfield was used for gravel extraction. The Officers mess survives. A blat pen and some defensive structures have been incorporated into a public walk. (2)

Hornchurch airfield: TQ 530 845. The Willis and Holliss gazetteer provides a statistical profile of Hornchurch in 1944. (3)

RAF Hornchurch: A pillbox, rare Tett turrets and an "E" shaped blast pen have also been identified in addition to those noted in source 2, along with anti aircraft gun emplacements and a range finder. A number of finds relating to the Second World War use including spent munitions, items of kit, ceramics and part of an aircraft cockpit instrumentation have also been found. (4)

RAF Hornchurch during the Battle of Britain was home to the Hornchurch Sector Operations room and staff, and the following Squadrons during the battle: Nos 65, 74, 54, 41, 266, 600, 264, 603 Squadrons. (5)

RAF Hornchurch, noted on the Defence of Britain database at TQ 525 835. (6)

For information on the site please refer to the source The Military Airfields of Britain; Northern Home Counties. (7)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Airfield review
Source details :
Page(s) : 20-21
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 62, 1993
Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : English Heritage Thematic Listing Programme, May 2003: "Survey of Military Aviation Sites and Structurers Summary report", Annexe 1, unpaged report.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Military airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945
Source details :
Page(s) : 108
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Pollard T and Oliver N 2004: "Two Men in a Trench II", BBC.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : MoD. Crown Copyright 2000. "Battle of Britain 1940 11 Group: RAF Hornchurch"; http://www.raf.mod/uk/bob1940/11group.html; accessed 27-FEB-2003.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Migrated Defence of Britain Project database record originally compiled from various sources
Source details : The two databases developed by the Project can be searched on-line through the Archaeology Data Service at http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/specColl/dob/index.cfm
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : THE MILITARY HISTORY OF AIRFIELDS OF BRITAIN; NORTHERN HOME COUNTIES
Source details :
Page(s) : 178-182
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Demolished 1919
Monument End Date : 1919
Monument Start Date : 1919
Monument Type : Military Camp
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Rebuilt 1922-1928
Monument End Date : 1928
Monument Start Date : 1922
Monument Type : Military Airfield
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Addition 1936
Monument End Date : 1936
Monument Start Date : 1936
Monument Type : Aircraft Hangar (Type C)
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Closed 1962
Monument End Date : 1962
Monument Start Date : 1962
Monument Type : Military Airfield
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : First World War
Display Date : Operational 1915-1918
Monument End Date : 1918
Monument Start Date : 1915
Monument Type : Military Airfield, Military Camp
Evidence : Destroyed Monument, Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : OPerational in WWII
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Military Airfield, Structure
Evidence :
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : Battle of Britain 1940
Monument End Date : 1940
Monument Start Date : 1940
Monument Type : Military Airfield, Tett Turret, Anti Aircraft Battery, Blast Pen, Findspot
Evidence : Structure, Earthwork, Find

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : DoB Anti Invasion Database UID
External Cross Reference Number : S0004174
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Defence of Britain Database UID
External Cross Reference Number : S0004174
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TQ 58 SW 54
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1464974
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1010751
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1393706
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1393715
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, THE DEFENCE OF BRITAIN PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-04-01
End Date : 2002-03-01
Associated Activities : Primary, FORMER RAF HORNCHURCH
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, HORNCHURCH COUNTRY PARK
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31