Work began in the summer of 1917 to build an airfield for the Royal Flying Corps when 112 Squadron was moved to Throwley . The airfield was situated between Bells Forstal and Throwley Forstal ( see the map on this site). The main aircraft based at Throwley were Sopwith Pups which were soon replaced by the more powerful Sopwith Camels, both aircraft types were biplane fighters. A photograph below (bottom right) gives todays view of what was then the airfield, then hedges were cut down from the surrounding fields to ease take off & landing. Today very little remains however, the Officers Mess was located at Bells Forstal Farm (see photograph bottom left) & the Guardroom is now the site of a private dwelling.
At first accommodation was basic for men and machines, tents and canvas covered hangers. Later permanent buildings were erected in Dodds Willows, a wooded area near the Guardroom which offered some protection for men & aircraft.The Sopwith Camels conducted night flights from time to time which were quite risky given the lack of equipment available at the time. Pilots were trained by flying in daylight using coloured goggles. Aircraft were frequently damaged on take off or landing and some pilots were killed , Throwley Churchyard has the graves of two pilots ( see photograph bottom centre) , both got into spins which they could not control & crashed (This was a particular problem with the Sopwith Camel which had so much power that the torque from the propeller could cause a right hand turn to go into a spin)
A reported problem with the site was the lack of water ,which is a surprise given the area now provides a major source of water from underground aquifers , a borehole was later sunk to provide supplies for the Airfield.
German Raids by Zeppelin airships were one of the targets of the Throwley pilots however,the Airships ability to fly at higher altitudes meant they often evaded attack, another target was German Gotha bombers, reports indicate more success in attack by Throwley based Sopwith Camels.
The Parish Registers show that some pilots and Airmen married into local families.
After the end of the first World War Throwley Airfield was disbanded in 1919 and the accommodation huts were sold off at auction. The camp hall was used by the villagers with the last event being the harvest supper in 1973 after which the building suffered vandalism and was later pulled down.
1 – An illustrated history of Throwley – Throwley Parish by H.B Reid 1995
2 – Airfield Focus – 58 : Throwley – Anthony J Moor