The land which is now Dalton Army Barracks was taken over in the late nineteen twenties by the Air Ministry. The airfield was built and in the early thirties it was used basically as a training facility. Early in WW2 on 8th April 1940, 97 and 166 squadrons, which were based at Abingdon, were formed into No 10 Operational Training Unit. There were around twenty- five O.T.U,s around the country and Abingdon was to play its part in the training of young British and Commonwealth night bomber aircrew.

During the war there were around 86 aircraft losses from the airfield and half of them near Abingdon. Something like 180 aircrew lost there lives while serving at Abingdon and of these 70 in the fields around Abingdon. Seven of these men are buried in the Abingdon area.  Another 42  10 OTU aircrew also lost there lives while at the nearby satellite station RAF Stanton Harcourt, plus another 110 while on detachment at RAF St Eval.  

The high ground of Boars Hill on the north end of the airfield claimed a number of aircraft as it was right in the path of the flight training circuit. In the memoirs of Wing Commander J C Corby who was stationed at Abingdon during the war, he clearly remembered the problems on Boars Hill to aircraft. He stated that the early Whitleys were underpowered and their angle of climb on take off was about the same height as  Boars Hill. He also stated that they used to refer to Boars Hill as Pigs Peak

In June 1942 10 OTU contributed to the 1000 plane bomber raids on Germany. Heads of Bomber Command needed as many planes as possible and aircraft from Abingdon joined in on raids on the cities of Bremen, Essen and Hamburg. On the night of 25/26th June 1942, twenty Whitleys took off from the airfield crewed by a mixture of seasoned and novice crews. From this number fifteen claimed to have made successful attacks, while one crew was obliged to make an early return after their compass failed. Four Whitleys crashed, two of them with all crew killed. One these planes crashed in Dalum, Holland and all the crew are buried just over the border in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Germany.

During August 1942 a detachment from 10 OTU at Abingdon was sent to RAF St Eval in Cornwall taking part in anti submarine patrols in the Bay of Biscay.  The unit flew 16,860 operational hours and 54 attacks were made on German U-Boats. No less than 47 Whitley aircraft were lost during the 11 months of the operation.

From 20 March 1944 until 16 November 1944 10 OTU moved its HQ six miles away to Stanton Harcourt whilst tarmac runways were laid at Abingdon. Vickers Wellington bombers arrived in June 1944 and the last Whitley having left by the end of September. In December it took over the Polish flight from 18 OTU, which remained until disbanding on 4 June 1945 with the rest of the unit following suit on 10 September 1946. 

RAF Abingdon


A prewar aerial view of the station and airfield at RAF Abingdon. Tarmac runways were not laid until 1944. Most of the buildings shown are still intact today.


Post War plan of the airfield showing the Runway layout. Note the 'Frying Pan' dispersal area still intact today at the north end of the airfield.