RAF Lyneham is being handed over to the Ministry of Defence's Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), and will now be used as an Army...
RAF Lyneham is being handed over to the Ministry of Defence's Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), and will now be used as an Army training centre.
The former Air Force station in Wlitshire, which closed three years ago, has undergone a massive makeover, costing £230 million - scroll down to the bottom of the article for Tim Cooper's exclusive look around the site.
RAF Lyneham first opened its gates in Wiltshire on the 18th May 1940. At first, it was home to 33 Maintenance Unit and it took a year before its runways were built and the first Squadron arrived.
511 Squadron took on that role, operating a transport link to Gibralter and Malta on its Liberators. Throughout the war, Lyneham helped take planes to the front. Spitfires were lined up all over the station and many VIPs passed through, including Winston Churchill.
Post-war the tempo changed. The station played a part in the Berlin Airlift and became a dispersal airfield for the RAF's nuclear deterrent, the V Bomber - but it was the arrival of the Hercules that really strengthened its role.
The so-called 'Workhorse of the Skies' arrived in 1967 securing Lyneham as the RAF's primary tactical transport base. The aircraft has been involved in virtually every military operation since, flying supplies and troops around the world.
Lyneham became the RAF's largest operational airfield and took on the role as a centre for repatriation, honouring those killed in conflict.
In 2002 a strategic review of military bases resulted in a decision to close the station. The base continued for nearly 10 years with its closure looming and its personnel slowly relocating elsewhere. The majority of squadrons moved to RAF Brize Norton and in 2011, repatriations shifted there soon after.
In May 2011, HRH The Princess Royal visited the station to say farewell and witness the last Hercules flypast over Lyneham. The base's flying days are over and it now welcomes a new era with the Army but its history still lives on in many hearts.