Mr Jim Newman - now living in Michigan USA recalls
his days at Lyneham.
Jim Newman's illustration of the
former entrance to the airbase - click image to see
RAF Lyneham 1985, just visible about a third up the
left hand side is the former entrance road which has
scarred the grass on the airfield.
National Museum of the United States Air
Force has a replica of Lyneham's former Air Traffic
RAF Lyneham's Main Entrance 1950
RAF Lyneham's Old Guardroom building
Gate RAF Lyneham 1950 .
Mr Jim Newman, whose father Mr Bert Newman was
one of the early Station Warrant Officer's at RAF Lyneham,
writes to us sharing his bygone memories. Bert arrived at Lyneham
in January 1947 straight from India in one of the worst winters
in many years, a fine introduction to the Wiltshire airbase from
the tropical weather that he was acclimatised too. Jim arrived
here with his family from RAF Filton during November 1948 to
be accommodated in the newly built married quarters at Harrow
Grove. Station Warrant Officer Bert Newman left the service in
1957, having spent all that time at Lyneham, creating some kind
of record for a posting longevity.
Jim recalls the time when he used to spend
hours watching Yorks, Hastings and other types doing circuits
and bumps at RAF Lyneham and passes on his memories when
the station main entrance used to be located the end of the
25 runway prior to the runway being extended for the larger
Jim Newman has mentioned about the guardroom photo that
we show at the bottom of this page, was not the guard room
in use in the 1940's through
actually was occupied by the Air Ministry Police.... the
chaps in the black
uniforms looking like a regular civvie "Bobby",
but with a "bus driver's hat" instead of the "flower pot". Close
that Air Ministry Police Guardroom is the end of what
was known then as J1 Hangar.
The Guardroom, occupied by the Service
Police, was right across the road and was a single
story, cement block building,
skim coated and painted white. It had a Canine Section at
the rear, with a
doorway opening into the main guardroom.
It would be well recalled by those unfortunate enough to
parades' outside of that building and
in full view of all passing!
The white building... and the
original Main Gate, can be seen in the
attached photo of the AOC's
Guard of Honour. The AOC's car can just been seen just outside
Yes! In those days they had the
old fashioned Sentry Box, outside of the gate, to deter the
German Army! I
would imagine that the "Snoops"
would have required the advancing Germans to sign in by 23:59
(It can be deduced that the photographer was standing outside
Guardroom with the pillars.) My photo is
not dated, but I am will to guess that it would be 1949-1950.
My father is
the front man of the trio by the Sentry
box. Station Headquarters
is just off the photo to the right, since it was
immediately next door. It, too, was of
cement block construction but, as was usual, cement skim
coated and left in
the natural cement colour.
It was H shape in plan form.
I traced off a Survey Map of
Lyneham as it pretty much is today, the
map being provided by a nephew
in Chippenham! As you can see, I amended much of the map
to represent RAF
Lyneham as it was in the '40s-'50s
until the new buildings were started and before the runway
In those days, access to the main gate really commenced at
-marked point (A) - where the Chippenham
road took a sharp "right hander" if you were travelling towards
Certainly not the sweeping curve that
it is today. From (A) one took the original little road/sunken
Bradenstoke, with the MT Section hangar on your right
and an orchard on your left. That orchard also bounded the
Field. That road no longer exists, but if you carefully look
at the coloured aerial photograph to the left, about a third
up on the left hand side, you can see the scarred in the
grass from the original
approach road. This former road was removed when the then
runway 07/25, was lengthened (shown dotted), to the north
side of the MT hangar.
At point (B) the road forked, and one took the sharp right
Bradenstoke, and the other left which carried straight on
to the Station Main Gate. The map shows the road to the
gate and also the
location of the gate, the original
Service Police Guardroom and also the Station Head Quarters,
in those days.
Only a few yards from Point (B) was the threshold of Runway
25 and it was
there that Jim said he would sit for
hours watching Yorks, Hastings and other types doing Circuits
and Bumps. He
once recognised Hawker's
Test Pilot, Neville Duke (Air Speed record holder) landing
in his restored
1930s Hawker Tomtit biplane.
When Jim first arrived at Lyneham, in November
of 1948, he recalls there were some 200
Spitfires of late mark numbers,
stored row upon row at the Bradenstoke side of the airfield
and also down by
the Calne Road, as he has indicated on the hand drawn
All of these aircraft were "cocooned" in a silver plastic
weather and deterioration. Gradually those
Spitfires were sold off to foreign governments or taken away
to be used as
targets in gunnery tests.
All of that grass area by the Calne road was just wide open
buildings at all and it was from there that
the RAF Gliding Club operated, landing over the Calne road.
It also was also a great site for the aero-model enthusiasts
and Jim and his friends used to spend quite a large portion
of their spare time flying model aircraft. Jim also recalls
his air experience flights, with the Air Training Corps,
which were launched from this suitable grassed area
in many of the Tiger Moth's, courtesy of 33 M.U.
The hangars were numbered J1, J2,
J3 and J4. The shortest hangar of the
four was J4... and that was because,
while it was being built, it was hit by a bomb from a German
raider in the early 1940's. As can be seen today,
they never bothered to repair and complete the hangar to
be the same length
as the others!
Other noticeable changes from today was the position of the
Air Traffic Control Tower, marked CT, situated opposite J1/J2
Hangers. The photo to the left was replicated from British
Airfield Buildings of the Second World War and the building
a very close representation to the Lyneham tower, except
that Lyneham did not have a balcony.
What it did have was a small,
square wooden Visual Control Room (VCR) with large windows
all round, built
on top of the tower.
The tower was of cement block, rendered
over with cement then white
painted. It had a handrail around the top
from which they hung large yellow boards on which was painted,
in black, the
number of the Duty Runway according
to the wind direction. Presumably, this was for aircraft
without radio. Lyneham had a flashing rotating beacon in
the "old" days.
At night it flashed out "dot dash dot dot.......dot
dash" that were the
letters LA in morse code and which
was (still is?) the identifier for Lyneham, (with HV being
etc.) Those flashes could be seen
from almost anywhere in the village and certainly as one
Lyneham at night, by road, from
any direction. The flashes could even be seen momentarily
in the sky, down
in Dauntsey Vale and as far
as Christian Malford.
Located at the USAF Museum
Dayton, Ohio. Outside,
they have built a replica
World War Two Control Tower and it is identical to Lyneham's
Tower. When Jim visited the museum he walked inside the replica
tower, instantly knew where everything was! Jim repaints
his memory "Enter the door off the tarmac and... immediately
on your right... are the narrow stairs
up to the second floor. Immediately on your left is the little
where my good friend and fellow modeller,
18 year old Apprentice Met. man John Bunting from Box, prepared
and briefing charts."
He continues "Just past the stairs, on the right again, was
the Teleprinter Room. Up the
stairs was the large office with the
big windows. This contained what looked like radios, speakers
also the big diagram board indicating the
runway lighting. (When we first moved to Lyneham the runway
was lit by
paraffin flares that had to be laid along each
side of the runway, every evening, by airmen in a small lorry
Bantam. When the wind shifted, it was a scramble
to pick 'em all up and re-lay them!) From that second floor,
steps went up
to the VCR on the roof."
"On the wall outside the building
was screwed a large, vertical bronze
protractor with a pivoting sight, much like a
weather vane. About three hundred feet way, on the grass
linking taxiway to the apron, was a small,
vertically aimed spot light in a box-like housing. At night
would be illuminated while the Met Man sighted
on the spot projected on to the cloud, then he took a reading
protractor to obtain the cloud base altitude.
So-o-o high tech in those days!"
Other memories include, when he first arrived at Lyneham
the Control Tower was complimented by
a black and white checkered, mobile,
runway control caravan that stood alongside the threshold
of the duty
runway. On the roof of that caravan was a fairly
large, glass enclosed "dog house" for viewing the world around.
unfortunate "bod" was banished to that caravan
and armed with red and green signal lights, plus a large
Very pistol and an
ample supply of red and green signal flares.
It obviously was very necessary that the "bod" did not suffer
It was his job to flash a green light, if the sky on the
Approach was clear
for the waiting aircraft to take off...and so on.
If an aircraft was approaching without it's undercart down,
the "bod" would
dash out to fire a barrage of red flares at the
offender! In later years, it was eventually deemed that the
Control Officer in the Tower should earn his pay,
by broadcasting all the necessary clearances or denials to
the cozy confines of the Control Tower. The signals square
that was alongside the tower, between the tower and the
had an illuminated Wind Tee that used to be
the checkered runway
With thanks to Mr Jim Newman, Michigan USA.