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RAF Madley (No 4 Radio School), airfield, Madley

SMR Number
: 12530
Grid Reference
: SO 4183 3742
Parish
: MADLEY, HEREFORDSHIRE

Location: Astride the Roman road, Stone Street, between the villages of Madley and Kingstone. Hereford city is about 6 miles to the north-east.
Construction of Madley Airfield and its 20 or so dispersed sites was commenced in 1940 by Mowlem and took about one year to complete. The role of RAF Madley was to train wireless operators and the site was occupied by No. 4 Signals School from August 1941 to November 1946, when the School moved to Swanton Morley in Norfolk. The aim was to train 2,800 ground wireless operators and 1,200 aircrew operators during the life of the School at Madley. The School operated 60 Percival Proctor Ivs and 18 De Havilland Dominies for this purpose, but much of the training was ground based and an extensive instructional site was provided about a quarter of a mile to the south of the airfield. The first trainees arrived on 28 November 1941. A small detachment of No 8 AACU operating Lysanders to train Army personnel divided its time between Madley and Shobdon, near Leominster (see SMR no. 12531). The airfield at Madley had grass runways until October 1943, when Summerfield tracking was laid by an RAF Airfield Construction Flight. At some stage three 100 yard concrete runways were provided but the date of this has not yet been established. The main hangars provided are of some rarity and historic interest, with three of pre-World War II Hinaidi type site on the main technical site and two Callender Hamiltons on the north side of the airfield. These still exist and are in good order, although the Hinaidi hangars are being adapted for industrial use which compromises their historical value. Apparently 13 Blister hangars were also provided but so far there is no indication of where these were sited. The close proximity of Madley to the Welsh Mountains resulted in medical staff from the Sick Quarters Site regularly attending crash sites there. By 1943 a fully-equipped mountain rescue team had been established at Madley to deal with such incidents. Apart from the main hangars and bits of perimeter track and runway, most of the RAF buildings have now gone. (2)
Part in Madley and part in Kingstone, the telecommunications site now occupies part of it. Built in 1940 by contractors brought in to site from south Wales, they worked from 7.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. seven days a week. Hard-core was brought by rail to Vowchurch Station and then loaded onto waiting vehicles. Twenty-one separate areas, including sewage works and electric power unit. It was a training centre, opened on 27 August 1941. The population rose from 300 to 5000. The airfield was grass-covered until October 1943. After the war some huts were disbanded, others were taken over by the homeless, replaced in the 1950s. Today only a few hangars remain. (3)
Two contrasting personalities passed through Madley Airfield. General George S Patton Jnr visited on 3 June 1944; the RAF provided a guard of honour. Rudolph Hess, Hitler's former deputy, who had been imprisoned in the district since 1941, was flown out from Madley in a Dominie to stand trial in Nuremberg in 1946. (4)

Monument Type(s)

  1. AIRFIELD (World War II - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  2. TRAINING BASE (World War II - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Files

Sources and Further Reading

Associated events

Associated Historic Landscape Character Records

  1. HHE475 - Recent Degradation through Boundary Loss - Limited Sinuous Boundaries Survive