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Market Lavington landing ground, Wiltshire 1919


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#1 Moonraker

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 05:46 PM

At the National Archives I was looking through MUN 4/5850, "Guarding of buildings at aerodromes awaiting disposal", when I came across a long list of "RAF stations for relinquishment or disposal up to 30/6/19". They appeared to be mostly minor establishments, but I was surprised to see that "Market Lavington landing ground" was included, Market Lavington being a small town on the northern edge of Salisbury Plain.

I thought I knew my Wiltshire WWI airfields, but this was a new one on me. I consulted Rod Priddle, author of the 396-page Wings over Wiltshire, which implied that there was a landing ground near Market Lavington early in WWII, but it was subject to air pockets, leading to its closure and a transfer of operations to New Zealand Farm by October 9, 1940. He was unaware of a WWI landing ground there.

There were two WWI landing grounds at Tilshead, four miles to the south of Market Lavington.

Any information will be very welcome. There are a number of AIR 1 files that may be worth my while consulting next time I visit TNA, but I wonder if they will have much to say about what would appear to have been a very modest facility.

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#2 mickdavis

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 09:05 AM

That's a new one to me. Logic would suggest that such a site would be on the top of the chalk escarpment and there are two suitable, large and flat open areas, one on either side of the main road.
The site is not mentioned in AIR1 452/453, the Autumn 1918 Quarterly Survey of Stations, which was actually compiled during the late summer. Could it have been brought into use by the Artillery Co-operation Squadron during its brief time at Tilshead?

#3 Medic7922

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 02:50 PM

Intriguing, I have a good knowledge of the Sailsbury Plains area and was not aware of any Airfields in the Market Lavington area,
I even had a look on Google Earth to see if there was any signs of an old airfield but due to intense farming there is no good evidance
to be seen.

#4 Moonraker

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 04:20 PM

The WWII Relief Landing Ground was on the east side of the A360. I wouldn't expect there to be any evidence on the ground of it today,or even shortly after it was decommissioned. Perhaps the Market Lavington ground was similar to the field at Manningfold Bohune, two miles north of Upavon, used by Central Flying School trainees to practice landings and take-offs. There were no airfield buildings and not even a windsock. It too was used as a RLG in WWII.

I think that Mick is on the right tack. Market Lavington was/is very close to the artillery ranges, and in the early 1960s I had lunch at a hotel where a shell had overshot and landed in the garden.


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#5 Lavington Curator

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 04:40 PM

Hi

I'm new to this forum. As curator of Market Lavington Museum I'd like to know more about any possible WW1 Landing strip/airfield in Market Lavington. Could it have been associated with the Pond Farm Camp?

I'm told that a pipe still standing near the Ridgeway to the West of the Current Market Lavington Vedette was a refuelling pipe for aircraft in WW2. Has anybody any further information?

Best wishes

Rog

#6 Moonraker

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 06:45 PM

Hi

I'm new to this forum. As curator of Market Lavington Museum I'd like to know more about any possible WW1 Landing strip/airfield in Market Lavington. Could it have been associated with the Pond Farm Camp...


Best wishes

Rog

The only reference I've come across is in the National Archives file MUN 4/5850 but nothing else has been discovered (by me, anyway)about the Great War site. Possibly it was used by aircraft taking part in experiments (perhaps involving the Royal Engineers Meteorological Section at nearby Butler’s Cross) or artillery-co-operation exercises on the Plain. The Chapperton Down Artillery Ranges were not far away.

I've no evidence that Pond Camp Farm was used after the departure of the First Canadian Division in February 1915. It was the most isolated of the GW camps in Wiltshire, and nearly all the others were very close to railway lines, often with their own rail connections, which would not have been possible for Pond Farm; instead there was a hard uphill slog from Patney & Chirton and Market Lavington stations, which taxed man and machine.

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#7 Lyffe

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 09:06 AM

Gentlemen,

 

I think the clue to the answer to Moonraker's question can be found in the Report on the Overseas Artillery School, Salisbury Plain: May 1917 at http://www.gutenberg...hive/app20.html.  The report covers November 1916 to March 1917, and includes a reference to support by the RFC:

 

Royal Flying Corps

 

Much useful work was done by a flight of the RFC permanently attached to the School.  Observation of special series was earned (sic) out, photographs taken and trial flights given to a large number of Officers on the course who were anxious to practise aerial observation for themselves.

 

I suggest the 'Market Lavington landing ground' in the first post was literally that - a field purchased by the War Office for these aircraft to land on, rather than an airfield on which permanent, or semi-permanent, buildings were constructed.  It would not take long for such a site to revert to its peace-time appearance once returned to agriculture.  Given that it was referred to as the 'Market Lavington landing ground', as opposed to 'West Lavington', I suggest it was on top of the escarpment overlooking the village, possibly near the vedette at 51deg 16 min 47.22 sec N, 01 deg 58 min 00.89 sec W (Google Earth).  From my own knowledge of the location much of this area would have been suitable for aircraft operations of the type described.

 

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#8 Lyffe

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 01:05 PM

Further to my last, and having looked a little more closely at the OS map, I've just noticed that the boundaries of the Market Lavington Civil Parish extend southeast from the village to cross  the Wessex Ridgeway at Grid Ref 021528 in the west and 028539 in the east; this neatly encloses the plateau overlooking the village.  I won't suggest it's the only place for a landing ground, but looking at the gradients to the northwest and southeast of the plateau it seems the most promising.

 

Brian



#9 MikeMeech

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 05:05 PM

Further to my last, and having looked a little more closely at the OS map, I've just noticed that the boundaries of the Market Lavington Civil Parish extend southeast from the village to cross  the Wessex Ridgeway at Grid Ref 021528 in the west and 028539 in the east; this neatly encloses the plateau overlooking the village.  I won't suggest it's the only place for a landing ground, but looking at the gradients to the northwest and southeast of the plateau it seems the most promising.
 
Brian


Hi

In the Cross and Cockade Gazetteer of WW1 Airfields (by Mick Davis & Bill Morgan, Part 13,Spring 2013 Journal) there is only a little bit of information on Market Lavington. Grid Reference SU 028535A (I think the 'A' is for approximate GR, so close to your "in the east"). Landing Ground RAF 1918 to June 1919, possibly for use by the Artillery Co-operation Squadron.

Mike

#10 Moonraker

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 05:12 PM

From memory, it seems to be the flattest piece of ground in the Market Lavington area - and this is confirmed by a look at the contours on an OS map.

 

Moonraker

 

Just looked at the 1922 revision of the 6-inch OS map, and no sign of any buildings on the site but, as Brian suggests, there probably wouldn't have been any that were permanent.



#11 Moonraker

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 05:36 PM

I've just been updating my notes to include the map reference and found this:

 

Local man Jack Welch corresponded regularly with his parents in Market Lavington and on May 10, 1918 commented on something they must have said to him:  "An aerodrome out in the Recreation Ground is getting a bit too close isn’t it, Lavington must be very much altered especially with the felling of so much timber".
 
The parish council had regular use of the Ground and their minutes record nothing of any requests for military use. In 2012, John Burgess recalled: "As a young lad living in Market Lavington I understood that the old air strip was where Lavington Hill meets the Ridge Road [the range perimeter road at the top  of the hill] right hand corner of this junction and walk at an angle for about 200 meters, there was an observation shed there with a lift up front. Later there was a model airoplane club that used this area to fly their model aircraft." 
 
Some at least of the above comes from the local museum's website
 
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#12 Lyffe

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 07:09 PM

Mike

 

I wonder where Mick Davis & Bill Morgan found their reference to Market Lavington - not the location, but the fact there was a landing ground there.  If Mick's picked up this conversation perhaps he could help.  The fact he is referring to the RAF and not the RFC actually helps me as it implies the aerial support for the ranges continued on from the reference I found to 1916-17.

 

Moonraker

 

I guess Burgess was talking about the WW2 LG, but it would be logical if the WW1 and WW2 LGs were more or less in the same location.

 

Brian



#13 Moonraker

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 08:04 PM

This

 

is where I got the John Burgess information from, but I agree that there's ambiguity as to which war he's referring to. I wonder how old he is?  I'll pm "Lavington Curator" to bring these updates to his attention.

 

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#14 Lyffe

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 08:17 PM

I've just had a thought (dangerous at my age); it's just possible that the English Heritage Archive in Swindon has some WW1 + 4 years aerial photos of the Market Lavington area.  Unfortunately it's closed on Saturdays but I will phone them on Monday.

 

Brian



#15 Moonraker

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 02:53 PM

Laving Curator has replied to my pm, saying that he thinks John is about 73, making him a "young lad" c1950. Not conclusively one might guess that he had the WWII landing strip in mind.

 

 

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#16 Lyffe

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 03:28 PM

I had a moment of panic thinking I'd blown my own suggestion out of the window when remembering there was a gun/battery known as Fiddington Farm; but checking in Gunners at Larkhill its postion was 028528, placing it in a gully to the east of the plateau.

 

Brian