Unit History: RAF Cherhill
This grass airfield originated during the First World War when it served as a major RFC Training Depot Station over the period 1916 to 1919. Three single span Aircraft Sheds of WW1 vintage and a wooden hutted campsite were built at the north-west side of the large grass landing ground. Two of these hangars served throughout the Second World War, and are still in evidence, all be it that the roof has completely collapsed on one of these hangars. The airfield returned to pasture land in 1920, and remained so until mid 1935 when the Bristol Aircraft Company purchased the site to house its Bristol Volunteer Reserve Flying School.
In February 1938 the title of the school was changed to No. 10 Elementary Reserve Flying Training School, a time when a few RAF personnel arrived for administration needs. An advanced flying training aspect was also undertaken, for which a lesser number of Hawker Harts were issued. In September 1938 a second contract was awarded for the training of Navigators, this element becoming known as No. 2 Civilian Air Navigation School.
With the rapid expansion of the RAF in mid 1938, a very large wooden hutted campsite was built a few hundred yards to the east of the airfield, which opened as No. 2 Electrical and Wireless School in September. This school was later to train thousands of ground wireless operator/mechanics for the regular RAF. As soon as the war broke out in September 1939 the resident flying school dropped the Reserve part of its title, and at the same time and was placed on a war footing, with many more RAF personnel being posted in. The number of Tiger Moths in use quickly approached sixty as the requirement for new pilots rose rapidly. The students under training were then being called up for the RAF, and everyone was in uniform except the Bristol Aircraft Company ground staff.
Due to the increase of air wireless operators requiring air experience the resident No.10 EFTS transferred to Weston Super Mare in September 1940, and on the following December 14th the No. 2 AON.S closed down.
By mid 1942 some 150 Proctors or Dominie aircraft were on strength, which gives some measure of the number of wireless operators passing through Yatesbury. In December 1942 part of the school became No.9 Radio School, which also embraced Radio Direction Finding techniques, but by then many instructors and pilots that were members of the RAF, although there was still many civilians on the staff, especially in the huge neighbouring ground school. A further title change occurred in early 1943 when it reverted to No. 2 Radio School, which still operated well over one hundred aircraft.
The airfield aspect then became the home of No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School whose role was still training a few student pilots for the post-war RAf. Once again Tiger Moths were in use, chiefly for performing take off and landing practice, only this time at a much reduced rate. However, with the dramatic cut back in the strength of the RAF the school closed in September 1947. Although the RAF found little further use for the airfield, other than by visiting light aircraft, or aircraft flown in for ground instructional training, civilian aircraft clubs used it for another ten years, but no exact date can be found as to when flying actually ceased.
In April 1969 the RAF abandoned Yatesbury completely,