It was a large audience that gathered to listen to John Levesey talk about the New Forest Airfields. John is a member of the Friends of New Forest Airfields (FONFA), a charity which studies the history of the airfields and which has erected a memorial to all those who have worked and served at the airfields.
The first part of the talk concentrated on the development of the airfields during the first half of the twentieth century. It was interesting to hear how local farmers had their land commandeered by the ministry, initiated through the delivery of an official letter. Facilities were very basic at airfields such as Ibsley, which proved to be a shock to the Americans who had an impression of idyllic English villages and countryside. The FONFA website has a short history of the airfields here.
After the tea break, John talked about the units and aircraft which flew from the airfields. It was a surprise to see the massive range of aircraft types that flew from the New Forest during the Second World War, flown by an variety of foreign nationals including Polish and Czech units.
At the end of the talk, there was a lively discussion which was in danger of going on all night, had Mark not interjected :-). Many thanks to John Levesey for a facinating talk on such an important area of the region’s history.
Next month, on the 6th April, we are privileged to have Professor David A. Hinton talking about the Anglo Saxon cemetery and other fieldwork at Breamore. See the Winter Meetings link on the main AVAS website for more details.