The Airfield


1942, December – the site for RAF ISLE ABBOTS (as that’s whose parish the land is in!) was purchased from the trustees of the Baptist church, the Speke family (then owners of Woodhouse farm) and the Wilco grass products. It was originally built as a 3 runway layout with accommodation from the now Ilton Business Park up to Woodhouse Farm for the United States Airforce.

1943, March – the first crash on the airfield occurred when a German JU88 was brought down on the airfield boundary.

1943, September – the airfield changed it’s name to RAF MERRYFIELD

1944, February – station officially opened. The airfield is equipped to receive 1,500 personnel.

1944, April – preparations for the D-Day landings begin.

1944, June – 90 aircraft leave Merryfield to take part in the D-Day landings. The mission was declared a success with only 3 aircraft lost.

1944, June – the next day another 50 aircraft leave with another success being reported, this time there is no loss of aircraft.

1944, July – the 61st Field Hospital was built in Ilton on what is now known as St Peters Close.

1944, November – the Americans leave the airfield.

1945, January – troops arrive and train before their departure to Australia to take part in the war against the Japanese.

1945, February – after a policy change all subsequent aircraft left for India and the Far East and this continued until May 1946.

1945, November – a 53 Squadron Liberator with 27 persons on board crashes at nearby Whites Pond in Broadway killing all on board.

1946, October – RAF Merryfield is disbanded to care & maintenance.

1951, November – station re-opens as 208 ADVANCED FLYING TRAINING SCHOOL

1954, June – station re-named NO 10 FLYING TRAINING SCHOOL

1954, July – station re-named NO 9 FLYING TRAINING SCHOOL

1956, February – No 9 FLIGHT TRAINING SCHOOL is disbanded

1958, January – station reverts to care & maintenance

1959 – 1961 – the land is taken over by farmers and, eventually, Gypsies.

1971, summer – army moves in, clears the runway and moves the Gypsies to the NE of the airfield, where they remain today. The control tower (used by the Gypsies as stables) was refurbished and a greenhouse put on top for a Visual Control Position!

1972, May – station is re-named RNAS MERRYFIELD (HMS HERON) and becomes part of R.N.A.S. Yeovilton

1982 – new purpose built Visual Control Position replaces the old greenhouse!

1987, March – land to the north and west (72 acres in all) is re-purchased.

1988, October – Woodhouse Farm is sold off with a covenant that no-one may stay in the property overnight.

2014 – R.N.A.S. Yeovilton still controls the site today. The airfield is now 600 acres – 50 acres smaller than originally built (those 50 acres are owned by the Taunton Vale Hunt and leased to the Royal Navy.)

By far, this subject generates the most interest and there is plenty more to come on this subject.