Royal Air Force Welford or more simply RAF Welford is an active Royal Air Force station in Berkshire, England RG20 7EX. The airfield is located approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) northwest of Newbury; about 50 miles (80 km) west-southwest of London
USAAF Station AAF-474
|Part of United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE)|
|Near Welford, Berkshire in England|
USAF munitions being loaded into a container in 2012
|Type||Royal Air Force station|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
United States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force
|In use||1943–1948, 1955—present|
|Garrison||420th Munitions Squadron|
|Elevation||147 metres (482 ft) AMSL|
Opened in 1943, it was used during the Second World War by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces. During the war it was used primarily as a transport airfield. After the war it was closed in 1946 and placed in reserve status. As a result of the Cold War, the station was reopened in 1955 as a munitions depot by the United States Air Force
Today it is one of the largest ammunition compounds for the United States Air Force in Western Europe for heavy munitions. One description states RAF Welford comprises 806 acres and is bordered by a 31,680 foot fence-line. They are home to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s second largest munitions hub. The installation currently maintains 15,000 bombs; over a $160 million stockpile.[circular reference]
Welford is now under the command of the 420th Munitions Squadron, and comes under the command of the 501st Combat Support Wing, with headquarters at RAF Alconbury, which provides support to the Geographically Separated Units (GSU)s in the United Kingdom.
RAF Welford is located in West Berkshire with a dedicated and rarely used access road leading to the station from the eastbound M4 motorway between Jcts. 13 & 14 to the west of the A34 junction with the M4. There is no access from the westbound motorway, so traffic leaving the station for the west must first travel east to Junction 13 of the M4 (the junction with the A34) before heading west.
In October 1943 the airfield was allocated to Ninth Air Force IX Troop Carrier Command (TCC). While under USAAF control, Welford was known as USAAF Station AAF-474 for security reasons during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. Its Station-ID was "WF".
315th Troop Carrier GroupEdit
- 34th Troop Carrier Squadron (NM)
- 43d Troop Carrier Squadron (UA)
- 309th Troop Carrier Squadron (M6)
- 310th Troop Carrier Squadron (4A)
The 315th TCG was part of the 52nd Troop Carrier Wing. On 7 February 1944 the group was transferred to RAF Spanhoe.
435th Troop Carrier GroupEdit
As part of the IX Troop Carrier Command's desire to have its C-47 groups commence training with paratroops of the 101st Airborne Division deployed in the Salisbury Plain area, the squadrons of the 435th Troop Carrier Group arrived at Welford on 25 January 1944 from RAF Langar flying C-47s and C-53s. Its squadrons and fuselage codes were:
- 75th Troop Carrier Squadron (SH)
- 76th Troop Carrier Squadron (CW)
- 77th Troop Carrier Squadron (IB)
- 78th Troop Carrier Squadron (CM)
The 435th TCG was assigned to the 53d Troop Carrier Wing. In early February 1945 the group was moved to an Advanced Landing Ground at Breigny France (A-48).
In 2009 USAF staffing at Welford was reduced as part of USAF wide budgetary adjustments. The munitions base's function is described as '‘It is usually at its busiest when the US government deploys bombers to a forward air station at RAF Fairford'. The bombers at RAF Fairford can include B-1, B-2 and B-52
- Milmo, Cahal (25 January 2014). "Unknown territory: America's secret archipelago of UK bases". Independent. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
- 501st Combat Support Wing
- "No exit". roads.org.uk. 5 April 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- Master Sgt. Kenneth C. Burnett (9 September 2009). "An end of an era – M117 bombs depart RAF Welford". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
- "Fairford transition – Questions and Answers". U.S. Air Force. 6 January 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
RAF Welford has reached a steady state following a similar transformation process last year. Now aligned under the 422 ABG, its future is secure.