RAF Woodsford was opened in the spring of 1937 as a training station and was later renamed RAF Warmwell to avoid confusion with the Avro factory airfield at Woodford near Manchester.
By July 1940 Fighter Command considered that construction work at Warmwell was advanced enough to sustain fighter operations. RAF Warmwell was used as a forward airfield and was close enough to offer protection to Portland Naval Base.
152 and 609 Squadrons were the principle squadrons flying Spitfires from the airfield during the Battle of Britain but many other squadrons visited the airfield over its operational life, flying a variety of planes including Hurricanes, Whirlwinds, Walruses and Typhoons. (The Spitfire suspended from the ceiling of the Science Museum in London was stationed at RAF Warmwell).
The airfield covered a vast area to the extent that personnel were issued with bicycles, the WAAFs were in charge of the maintenance of the bikes and the MT section were much respected, as they ensured the personnel could get from their billets These were usually commandeered large houses in the area, such as Woodsford House, Moreton House, Conygar House at Broadmayne or Lewell Mill where the personnel could get away from the airfield.
In March 1944 the 474th Fighter Group arrived at RAF Warmwell from America. RAF Warmwell became designated by the Americans as Station 454 USAAF Moreton and P38 Lightning's were deployed there as part of Dorset's sole fighter base until 5th August 1944.
RAF Warmwell's active life as an airfield came to an end during 1945, finally being used as a demobilisation centre and later as a reception centre for RAF families trapped abroad through the previous years of hostilities.
Among the notable personnel stationed at Warmwell was the the late Frank Muir.
Much of the airfield has now been lost to quarrying and construction. The village of Crossways now exists on the site of the airfield Little trace of the war years is left.
The control tower is now a private residence on the Dorchester road where two dispersal areas are gradually being taken back by nature.
The old cinema is now Crossways Village Hall. To commemorate this the hall was the centre for an exhibition of RAF Warmwell which took place on 19/20 August 2000 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and as well as the many photos shown, a few of the remaining veterans relived their memories with both the residents and the relatives of those that did not return, some of whom lie in the churchyard at the nearby village of Warmwell.
A list of the active squadrons that were based at RAF Warmwell are listed below.
The list does not include any training and practice squadrons also based at RAF Warmwell during this period.
The 60th Anniversary Exhibiton
An exhibition was held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. It was held at the Crossways Village Hall the former cinema and gymnasium for the airfield. The exhibition was not due to open until 10.30 a.m. By 10.15 we felt that we had to open the doors, by 11 a.m. it was somewhat busy. Crossways Scout Group opened a 'NAAFI' in front of the exhibition.
Jean and Theo Laing were the first visitors through the door. They had met at RAF Warmwell and were married locally at Cerne Abbas. They made the long journey from their home in Bodmin to Crossways and are seen posing in front of their wedding photo at the exhibition.
The original towing Fordson tractor that served the airfield took pride of place outside the hall. The minibus tour took in what is left of the airfield as well as a visit to the war graves at Warmwell Churchyard. The following Sunday (20/8/2000) a service of Remembrance took place at the War Memorial in the village. Seven standards were laid and some 200 people took part including many Veterans of RAF Warmwell.
The book is the definitive history of RAF Warmwell, with factual information as well as personal reminiscences, this book has now been revised and is available to purchase. For more information, please visit www.rafwarmwell.org.uk.