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Historic England Research Records

Driffield Airfield

Hob Uid: 1393974
Location :
East Riding Of Yorkshire
East Riding Of Yorkshire
Kirkburn
Grid Ref : SE9950056500
Summary : A former military airfield, now Alamein army barracks and millitary training site. The airfield was first used during the first World War in an Anti Zeppelin role. A landing strip was established near Eastburn Farm in 1916 and a 25 acre technical site to the north of the A614 was built in 1918, along with a range of domestic airfield buildings. In 1920 this reverted to agricultural use and the site was demolished. Because of the renewed threat to peace from the mid 1930s, Driffield was reacvtivated and reconstructed from 1935 onwards. The base was opened in 1936 but construction continued after this date (finished by 1940). Huts served as temporary buildings until the permanent buildings were complete. The completed station included mess facilities, H barrack blocks, a range of stores, garages, workshops and station headquarters, and 5 type C aircraft hangars. The technical site and barracks were located on the south east side of the flying field. There were bomb stores to the north of the flying field. For much of World War Two the base was used by Bomber Command, except for an interval in the winter of 1941 when it was taken over temporarily by Fighter Command. Driffield saw action in the northern sector of the Battle of Britain and was attacked repeatedly in 1940. Post war use included flying training, and from 1958 to 1963 the north west corner of the site was remodelled as a Thor missile site. In 1977 the base was handed to the army, who use the site as a barracks and training area for cross country driving courses. The latter function meant the landscaping of part of the former flying field and the former Thor missile site, most of which were buried. Some of the airfield perimeter track remains. A number of wartime specialist buildings were incorporated into the barracks and were reported as extant in 1999 (please see TA 05 NW 75 to TA 05 NW 79). Four of the type C aircraft hangars are in use as grain stores.
More information : Driffield (Eastburn) Airfield: now Alamein army barracks and millitary training site. The airfield was first used during the first World War in an Anti Zeppelin role. A landing strip was established near Eastburn Farm in 1916 and a 25 acre technical site to the north of the A614 was built in 1918, along with a range of domestic airfield buildings. In 1920 this reverted to agricultural use and the site was demolished. With the renewed threat to peace from the mid 1930s, Driffield was recavtivated and reconstructed from 1935 onwards, as part of the so called "Expansion Period " of the Royal Air Force. The base was opened in 1936 but construction continued after this date (finished by 1940). Huts served as temporary buildings until the permanent buildings were complete. The completed station included mess facilities, H barrack blocks, a range of stores, garages, workshops and station headquarters, and 5 type C aircraft hangars. The technical site and barracks were located on the south east side of the flying field. There were bomb stores to the north of the flying field. For much of World War Two the base was used by Bomber Command, except for an interval in the winter of 1941 when it was taken over temporarily by Fighter Command. During the Battle of Britain (1940) Driffield was bombed on a number of occasions. Post war use included flying training, and from 1958 to 1963 the north west corner of the site was remodelled as a Thor missile site. In 1977 the base was handed to the army, who use the site as a barracks and training area for cross country driving courses. The latter function meant the landscaping of part of the former flying field and the former Thor missile site, most of which were buried. Some of the airfield perimeter track remains. A number of wartime specialist buildings were incorporated into the barracks and were reported as extant in 1999. Four of the type C aircraft hangars were reportedly in use as grain stores (1999). The Airfield Review article by Barry Abraham and Geoff Simmons covers the full range of Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force and Commonwealth units (Canadian and New Zealand) that used Driffield in great detail. It aslo notes the types of aircraft flown. There are a number of illustrations including photographs and plans of the site at different stages of its development. (1)

Driffield Airfield, SE 995 565. The Willis and Holliss gazetter does not mention the World War One phase, stating that the airfield opened in 1936. it also gives the use of the site in 1985, presumably incorrectly as agricultural. (2)

SE 995 565 NAT. The OS sheet SE 95 NE 1982 edition depicts the western part of the site after it was redeveloped by the army, the 1970 version of sheet TA 05 NW shows the technical site before the army takeover. (3-4)

During the Battle of Britain, Driffield Airfield was attacked on 15th August 1940 by 50 German Junkers JU-88 bombers of Luftflotte 5. In this raid 10 Whitley bombers were destroyed, as were 8 of the attacking aircraft, (7 by fighters and one by fire from the ground). The raiders had originally been targeting Church Fenton and Leconfield but were driven off southwards by RAF fighters. (5)

A 20th Century military airfield is visible as structures on air photographs, at TA9957 5651. The airfield was schematically recorded as part of the Chalk lowland and the Hull Valley NMP. Good photographic coverage of the site is available from the Second War onwards. No features dating to the First World War were noted from the available photographic sources. Elements of the airfield are extant on the latest 2008 vertical photography.
(6)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Airfield review
Source details :
Page(s) : Sep-22
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 82, 1999
Source Number : 2
Source : Military airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
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Source Number : 3
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:10000, 1982
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:10000, 1970
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Bravery, Sacrifice, Freedom: Battle of Britain 70th Anniversary 1940-2010
Source details :
Page(s) : 103
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF/CPE/UK/2396 4156-4157 17-NOV-1947
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : World War I from 1916
Monument End Date : 1918
Monument Start Date : 1916
Monument Type : Military Airfield
Evidence : Destroyed Monument
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Demolished 1920
Monument End Date : 1920
Monument Start Date : 1920
Monument Type : Military Airfield
Evidence : Destroyed Monument
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Rebuilt 1935-1940
Monument End Date : 1940
Monument Start Date : 1935
Monument Type : Military Airfield, Perimeter Track
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : World War II
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Military Airfield, Aircraft Hangar (Type C), Bomb Store
Evidence : Structure, Extant Building, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Battle of Britain
Monument End Date : 1940
Monument Start Date : 1940
Monument Type : Military Airfield
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Thor site 1958-163
Monument End Date : 1963
Monument Start Date : 1958
Monument Type : Thor Missile Site
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : 1977 to present Army
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1977
Monument Type : Barracks, Military Training Site
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure, Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SE 95 NE 80
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
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Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : RAF DRIFFIELD
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : ENGLISH HERITAGE: CHALK LOWLAND AND THE HULL VALLEY NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2011-09-20
End Date : 2012-10-03