Wimbledon Common Airfield Memorial

The Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust (ABCT) launched a campaign to commemorate all of the airfields that were critical in the defence of the nation. By 2030 they hope to have installed 400 memorials.

Many airfields are now disused and research by the Trust revealed that Wimbledon Common had its own airfield located on The Plain from 1915 to 1918 and we are delighted that this part of the site's history will be commemorated with a plaque at the Ranger's Office.

By the start of 1916, Wimbledon was one of ten Royal Flying Corps airfields employed to defend London. Two Royal Aircraft Factory BE2cs of No 19 Reserve Squadron (a training unit) were based at each of the ten sites - the unit was to become No 39 Squadron (a frontline unit) in April 1916.  This was a major development in the history of Home Defence operations during WW1, and one very good reason why the Trust wished to establish a plaque here. The lead airfield in this particular scheme was Hounslow, later Britain’s first airport and where ABCT unveiled a full-sized memorial in April 2016.

Nos 39 and 141 Squadrons subsequently had use of the landing ground; by 1918 it served as a 3rd Class Night Landing Ground (NLG) for Royal Flying Corps (later Royal Air Force) fighters, meaning that it had more in the way of restricted landing approaches for visiting aircraft.

Airfields such as Wimbledon proved invaluable in other ways, due to the vagaries of aircraft of the period plus the fact pilots were not allowed to use parachutes. Although unfortunately very badly documented, they undoubtedly saved many lives, not to mention played a most significant part in the winning of WW1 through overcoming and/or at least proving a major deterrent against the enemy aerial threat, whether Zeppelins or latterly also fixed-wing aircraft such as Gotha bombers.

The airfield was dismantled soon after The Armistice.