The Journal of the Friends of Sywell Aerodrome

No. 8 Summer 2002

Denton, Relief Landing Ground for No.6 EFTS Sywell

by E.N.Gayton

A grass airfield situated by the Brafield-on-the-Green to Horton road began operating in mid 1940 to relieve Sywell, which was becoming very busy with the training of pilots and the flying in and out and testing of Wellington bombers being overhauled and repaired there.

Brooklands ground staff at Denton.
Brooklands ground staff at Denton.

Hangars were of the blister type, two of them being used for the maintenance of the Tiger Moths and these had the canvas curtains fitted at each end. Others were dispersed around the airfield with open ends, and it was possible to park two aircraft under them to give some protection from the weather. Later two larger type E.O. blister hangars were built with more room for maintenance and repairs.

Originally there were two flights of the Moths, these being E. and F. flights, later to be increased to three with the addition of D. flight. The flying instructors were RAF, French, Belgian and Allied Air Force personnel and the trainees being of the same air forces. Each flight consisted of eighteen aircraft and the servicing and minor repairs being carried out by civilian personnel of Brooklands Aviation, major repairs being done at Sywell.

Member of Brooklands staff at Denton.
Member of Brooklands staff at Denton.

Although a grass airfield built for training purposes, a surprising number of visitors landed there, types being Miles Magisters, Masters and Ansons, Oxfords, Wellingtons, Hampden, Whitley, Lysander, fighter types R.A.F. Mustangs, Hurricane and Spitfires, nine of which landed one day. A Flying Fortress 1, of the R.A.F. landed another time, also a Mosquito. American types included Dakota, Thunderbolt, Piper Cubs, Stinson Reliants, Cessna Bobcats and Cranes, also Noordyn Norseman.

Accidents happened with the Tiger Moths ending up on their nose or upside down, collisions on the ground and running into hedges when overshooting. Usually apart from a scratch or two, there were no serious injuries. Three crashes did occur, a Wellington Bomber and a Tiger Moth collided in mid-air while night flying was in progress on 5th December 1941 and came down in Denton woods. Beaufighter NE480 crashed on the airfield on the 10th April 1944 and on the 25th July 1944 Tiger Moth BB699 (ex G-ADGY Brooklands Flying Club) hit power cables and crashed nearTurvey. Sadly there were no survivors from these accidents.

On the 17th August 1941 while night flying was in progress, an intruder aircraft dropped bombs close to the airfield but no damage was done and no further enemy action took place during the War. Training continued to take place until the airfield closed in July 1945 and returned to farmland once more.

E.N. Gayton
Member of Brooklands staff at Denton.
Brooklands ground staff at Denton.

Postscript, May 2012: the site of the old airfield is not very obvious in modern day satellite views such as this one from Google Maps; the 'L' shaped concrete roadway at the bottom left of the site served the hangars, the bases of which are still extant alongside.

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Sywell Aviation Ltd. is a company registered in England with company no. 03180760 & VAT no. 623 8222 56.
Registered offices: Hall Farm, Sywell, Northampton, NN6 0BT.

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