RAF North Weald
North Weald Bassett aerodrome was established in the summer of 1916 by the Royal Flying Corps and was taken over by the newly-established Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918. The airfield played an important part in the air defence strategy of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Initially Hawker Hurricanes were deployed at the airfield, alongside Bristol Blenheim night fighters. Hurricanes from North Weald saw action over the beaches of Dunkirk and played a key role in the Battle of Britain. The airfield was bombed by the Luftwaffe on three occasions during the Battle: on 24 August, 3 September and 29 October 1940, with considerable loss of life.
In 1941, two American Squadrons (71 and 121) flew Spitfires from North Weald. Between May 1942 and March 1944, and again in April and May 1945, two Norwegian squadrons (331 and 332) operated from the airfield. RAF fighter squadrons flying Gloster Meteors and de Havilland Vampires were based at North Weald from 1949 onwards.
RAF 242 (Canadian) Squadron was based here from May to September 1941, flying Hurricane IIb aircraft. Two RCAF Squadrons were based here: 403 (Wolf) between 22 December 1941 and 1 May 1942, and 412 (Falcon) between 4 and 18 June, 1942, both of them flying Spitfire Vb aircraft.
The Hawker Hunters of the last front line combat unit (No. 111 Squadron RAF) left North Weald in 1958 and the RAF withdrew from the airfield completely in 1964. It was sold to Epping Forest District Council in 1979.
The North Weald Museum is home to many vintage aircraft including a Spitfire, Mustang, Kittyhawk, Dakota, Skyraider, Seafire, Harvard, Hunter, Venom, Vampire, Gnat, and Jet Provost. Surviving buildings include one of the original 1927 hangar and the former Officers Mess, now a Grade 2 listed building. The airfield itself was granted listed status in 2005.
The RAF North Weald Memorial, was dedicated in 2000 in memory of all those who served at North Weald. It incorporates an obelisk erected in 1952 by the people of Norway to commemorate the Norwegian airmen stationed here.
Unaware of its rich history, too many people now think of North Weald only in terms of its Saturday market which is alleged to be one of the largest open air markets in the UK.
Like the airfield at Hunsdon, North Weald has been designated as the possible site for the development of up to 6,000 houses under the East of England Development Strategy. A request for public input in 2006 received more than 6800 objections and local residents continue to object strenuously against the proposal.