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Thread: RAF Hinton in the Hedges Airfield Defences

  1. #1
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    Default RAF Hinton in the Hedges Airfield Defences


    Hinton in the Hedges is a WW2 RAF airfield loacted in Northamptonshire, near Banbury. The site opened in Nov 1940 and operated until July 1945. The airfield posessed 1x B1 Hangar, 1x T1 and 1x Blister hangar. 23 heavy bomber hardstandings were on site and the aircraft operated were Whitleys, Oxfords, Wellingtons, Blenheims, Masters and Ansons. These were used by 13 Operational Training Unit, 16OTU and 1479 Flight. Coincedentally, 13 OTU staffed the last RAF site I visited, RAF Hampstead Norreys in Berkshire.
    As far as my research has found, Hinton in the Hedges was nothing more than your average training airfield, built as a satellite of RAF Bicester. Despite this, the airfield had one of the most intense defensive sites of any airfield in the south. The remaining defence structures are quoted as 'Some of the best examples in the country'.

    I found it on Google earth and thought I'd make it up there the next day. After a long journey in the snow, and a few skids and slides on the whitened country roads I made it to the site.

    Here is an overview of the defence site. You can see the make up of it, with two Cantilevered pillboxes, three Seagull trenches and the Battle HQ. These are situated in what is now a farmer's field off to the South East of the main airfield.
    With an invasion imminent, airfields became defended with all guns pointing not outwards, as one would first expect, but inwards. this was to prevent enemy paratroopers taking hold. The BHQ would have been the hub from which the ground battle was directed.



    Looking across the field to the site, it looks more like the Eastern front than rural England.

    The first two structures I came across were a Seagull Trench and a Cantilever Pillbox. These, as with the other structures are cushioned by thick revetments around them.
    Internally I found the Seagull Trenches to be a bit messy, the thin skin of concrete had fallen from the walls, covering the floor but the Cantilevered pillboxes were in pristine condition, with barely any dirt on the floor, and the machine gun mount was nearly rust free.



    Some cabling was still evident, either for power or comms.

    The exterior, not in such good shape.

    Of course, Hinton's golden egg is the Battle HQ. this is of standard 11008/41 Type.
    The observation cupola is just the tip of the iceberg, with the main extent of the HQ being underground.

    The BHQ is entered by a narrow flight of dodgy steps, made even more difficult in the snow.

    Unfortunately, the underground rooms are currently flooded. Areas seem to be in a foot of water.

    My boots already submerged, this was as far as I was willing to tread, what with the arctic conditions above ground. Some electrical equipment still remains on the wall in the background, this room I assume to be the PBX room- the communications centre for the HQ. I couldn't work out why there was so much rubble across the floor, maybe the farmer had dumped it there.

    There is an escape hatch located next to the observation cupola. This must have once had a ladder, and a metal hatch. Dropping myself down it, I had a slight concern as to wether I'd be able to get out... Ahh F**k it, jump in!

    Once in, there is a half height doorway to the right. This takes you into the 6 foot square Observation post.
    The observation aperture must have been three inches high. This gave a 360 degree view, wide enough to observe the battlefield but very difficult to shoot into, and virtually grenade proof.

    Back into the corridor there are two steps down to the underground rooms. The bottom of this is again flooded and I cursed myself for not thinking of taking wellies with me!

    Looking through the doorway at the bottom. Some electrical cable still hangs on the wall.

    Back on the surface I headed to a Seagull trench. I have not come across one of these before, they are simply a chevron shaped building with six wide embrasures. The centre of which on each side had a machine gun mount and an alcove behind, presumably for ammunition storage. They are not particularly thick skinned and a well thrown grenade would have been devestating but they would have offered fair protection to the men inside.

    Looking at the front.

    Inside, the trench is divided in two. They are separated by a wall, with a low opening at the base to crawl through.

    Looking through to the other side, the entrance is surprisingly difficult to get into.

    The main embrasure and machine gun mount.

    Another Cantilevered pillbox sits further up. Again, this is almost immaculate inside.

    The .50 cal fire coming from these whould have been difficult to supress.
    Up at the end is the third seagull trench, in similar condition to the rest.

    Looking back at the BHQ with a pillbox in close proximity.

    In all, this site would have been an effective last stand for the surrounding airfield. The whole site would have been enclosed in barbed wire and would have fought off all but the mightiest German assaults. I had great fun checking the place out, but am still wondering what lies in the flooded rooms of the BHQ! Next time...


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  3. #2
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    Great post,nice to find so much sited together in such good condition.Thanks for posting.:)

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  4. #3
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    Nice mate, very nice! Damn I bet that water was cold!

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  5. #4
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    Some excellent pictures there! Bet your feet where cold after that! :)
    "To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day."

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  6. #5
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    Well done, looks like you had great fun :)
    'I'VE LIVED LONG ENOUGH TO SEE THE FUTURE BECOME THE PAST'.

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  7. #6
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    Excellent find! Couldn't have been easy tracking everything in the snow.
    Beautiful pics. :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

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  8. #7
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    Thumbs up


    Top marks for effort buddy (and the photos are pretty good too!) ;)

    That "Seagull" emplacement is superb -not seen one of these before.

    Thanks for making the effort!

    Lb :jimlad:

    P.s. -is the greenish colour on the outside of the Battle H.Q. the remnants of Camo. paint?
    Lb :jimlad:

    Think we're gonna need a bigger boat

    www.severallshospital.co.uk
    www.runwellhospital.co.uk

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  9. #8
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    Thanks guys, if im honest, I didnt feel the cold once! My goretex bootliners kept my feet dry but had I gone any further they wouldn't have!

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  10. #9
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    Brilliant stuff the snow adds to the ambience of the palce.:)

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