1917 - 1945

In 1917, the Experimental Aircraft Flight of the Central Flying School was transferred from Upavon, Wiltshire to a site on the heathland at Martlesham and, on 16 January, 1917, Martlesham Heath Airfield was officially opened, as an experimental airfield. The unit was renamed the "Aeroplane Experimental Unit, Royal Flying Corps". After the end of World War I the site continued to be used and was, once again, renamed as the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) of the Royal Air Force.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the A&AEE was removed to a site at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, owing to the proximity of Martlesham Heath to the East Coast and its vulnerability to enemy attack. The airfield then took on a new role as a base for fighter squadrons defending Britain. Wing Commander (later Group Captain) Douglas Bader, D.S.O., D.F.C. served at Martlesham Heath with 222 and 242 Squadrons, in 1940.

 

Wing Commander Douglas Bader, D.S.O., D.F.C.

Douglas Bader

Martlesham Heath Aviation Society have an excellent museum in the Control Tower.  It's worth a visit and is open on Sunday afternoons from April to October inclusive.

Here is an aerial photo of the control tower just after the war

Here is an interesting map showing the layout of the airfiield overlaid onto the layout of the new village.  You can see that the E-W runway passes right under the Douglas Bader pub.  The facility at the bottom in the area of Mayfields and Heathfields is where the ammunition storage was located.

Here is an aerial photograph taken just after the war which helps to make sense of the above map.

Here is more information about the airfield.