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Royal Air Force Wyton - A brief history

The area around Wyton has been associated with aviation since 1912 – a period that embraces almost the entire history of aviation.

On 1st April 1918 the Royal Air Force was formed and Wyton continued to train units for overseas operations as it had done previously for the Royal Flying Corps.

Several aviation milestones have been recorded from Royal Air Force Wyton. The first sortie of WW2 took off from here as well as the first aircraft of the 1000 bomber raids on Germany. The legendary Pathfinder Force was formed here and Wyton aircraft took part in the last Bomber Command raid on Germany. 1981 marked the retirement from Wyton of the Royal Air Force’s last serving Spitfire Pilot.

In March 1937 the first Blenheim Squadron was formed at Wyton and Empire Day of the same year saw an air display being held on the station.

The Pathfinder Force was created on August 15th 1942 and was composed of units stationed at Oakington, Graveley, Wyton and Warboys. Wyton was situated in the middle of the stations and was chosen to be the headquarters. The role of the Pathfinder Force was to find and mark targets as best they could. The actual end of the war brought no immediate let up in pace for the Station and aircraft crews. It was realised that a stripped down Lancaster could carry 22 men and the aircraft were used to re-patriate prisoners of war. Between 7 - 9 May 1945, Pathfinders carried 2,858 men home. In August 1945 the Pathfinder Force disbanded, Wyton was left without operational aircraft.

Throughout 1951 and 1952 Wyton was used as a transit base for American B-50 bombers. In January 1953 the first Photographic Reconnaissance Units (PRUs) arrived, initially with Mosquito, Meteor and Lancaster aircraft; however, re-equipment soon took place with the new PR version of the Canberra.

In 1955, the Freedom of Huntingdon was granted to the Station. The occasion, on 7th September, coincided with the 750th anniversary of the granting of the Charter to the town and was marked by a ceremony in the Market Square, a church service, parade and flypast.

The Seventies were a time of change for Wyton. In 1971 the first Nimrod aircraft arrived. In April 1975 the last of the Victor aircraft departed. In 1977 tragedy struck when a Canberra crashed into the Oxmoor Estate in Huntingdon killing the crew and 3 civilians. Throughout the next 2 decades Canberra units came and went with the final squadron, No 39 (1 PRU), leaving in November 1993.

In April 1994 Wyton ceased to be an independent unit and was merged with RAF Brampton and came under the control of Headquarters Logistics Command (HQLC). In October 1999, when HQLC disbanded and the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) was created, Brampton/Wyton came under the control of Headquarters Personnel & Training Command. Units of the DLO continued to occupy office accommodation at RAF Wyton. On 1 April 2007 the DLO merged with the Defence Procurement Agency to become Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and, on the same day along with the rest of the RAF, control of the Station moved to HQ Air Command.

As well as providing accommodation and support facilities to DE&S and numerous other lodger units, the Station is once again in the flying role, supporting Grob Tutors from No 2 Squadron of No 1 Elementary Flying Training School, the University of Cambridge Air Squadron, the University of London Air Squadron and No 5 Air Experience Flight. This was another first for Wyton, as it became the first station to operate the new tutor aircraft – and it marked a return to the flying training role, which is how the story began.

On 2 April 2012 RAF Wyton once again became an individual RAF Station, control of the station transfered from HQ Air Command to the newly established Joint Forces Command (JFC). The launch of JFC is a major milestone in the MOD's 'Transforming Defence' programme, considered the most significant programme of Defence reform for a generation. 2 April 2012 also marked Brampton's loss of status as an RAF Station, the site, which is due for closure at the end of 2013, renamed Brampton Camp and now administered by RAF Wyton.

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