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Thread: RAF Tilstock and 81 OTU

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    Default RAF Tilstock and 81 OTU

    Have become interested in the former RAF Tilstock at Prees Heath and had a wander around what remains of the site last weekend. It is a fascinating place and it is incredible to see nature reclaiming its own.

    Now to the questions:

    I understand that the airfield opened in 1942, the site having previously served as a POW or internment camp. Firstly, would anyone know whether the POW Camp was using accommodation still standing from when the site was a training camp in the great War?

    Does anyone know how the airfield operated regarding road closures as two of the runways actually crossed the A41?

    81 OTU operated from the airfield as did a Glider Pilot training School. I have also seen mentioned that a fighter OTU was based there but can't find any evidence of this. Can anyone shed any further light on the subject?

    Any help will, as always, be most appreciated.

    Regards,

    Kevin mears

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    1665 HCU also operated at the base. My grandfather was the Gunnery Leader for the
    unit in 1944 after finishing a tour with 214 Squadron (and before moving to 296 Squadron).

    I think they did quite a lot with gliders, and lots of the aircrew who passed through 1665 ended up glider towing, and doing drops to the resistance.

    Johnnie

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    Kevin, Hi,
    Your questions:

    1 No knowledge.
    2 The A/F diagram in Willis & Hollis shows the road completely removed from about the location of the current roundabout down to the trees at Prees Higher Heath.
    3 Tilstock was in 38 Grp (part of Fighter Command) towards the end of the war, and there was an OTU there - but I have no knowledge of it being an actual Fighter OTU.

    I have some very detailed movement dates during the 38 Grp occupancy which have been transcribed from the 38 Grp (Meteorology) After Action Report. You are welcome to the bits that might interest you.
    Rgds
    Peter Davies

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    Johnnie and Peter.

    Thank you both for the very quick responses. I had forgotten about 1665 HCU. If I remember correctly one of their Stirlings overran the end of the short runway and ended up on the A49.

    Peter.

    Anything you can offer will be most welcome and very illuminating.The presence of the A41 through an active airfield has always puzzled me. Looking at the area on Google Maps I can see how the removal of the road wouldn't be too much of a problem as what traffic there was could divert through Prees Higher Heath and onto the A49. Been fascinated by the area since passing through as a child and using the coach stop at the roundabout on many coach trips from the Black Country up to Rhyl. I must try and get hold of an airfield plan as I think that would help greatly in identifying the buildings in the woods to the east of the A41.

    Regarding Fighter Command usage, Lake's Flying units of the RAF states that 81 OTU operated numerous types, among them at least one Spitfire and some Hurricanes. I wonder whether perhaps a small number of Spitfires and Hurricanes operated from Tilstock in conjunction with 81 OTU for fighter affiliation duties?

    Thanks again for the help. If you need a postal address Peter just let me know and I will PM you.

    Regards,

    Kevin Mears.

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    As suggested, the A41 across the site was closed and traffic re-routed via the A49 etc. Apart from the Ops block and other buildings in the woods, the complete Instructional Site with bombing trainer etc exists off a side road on the other side of the A41. At least it did about 20 years' ago when a haulage firm was in residence. I haven't checked recently but I suspect it's still there!

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    Kevin,
    Just PM your email address to me. I can attach the entire document (only 198kb) to my reply. There's obviously a lot of meteorological niff-naff - and gripes about comms (so nothing changes!!!). You can then delete what you don't want. If you find any uncertainties then just email me.
    Rgds
    Peter Davies

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    Peter.

    PM duly sent.

    Thanks.

    Kevin mears

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