Ballyhalbert History

Ballyhalbert Airfield

A Brief Chronolgy

Construction Started

Construction completed: 3 Tarmac Runways; 2 Bellman Hangars, 6 Blisters with a decoy at Kearney.

28th June 1941
Airfield officially opened (along with RAF Kirkistown) under Administration of 13 Group

July 1941
Satellite opened at RAF Kirkistown

14th July 1941
First operational unit arrived; 245 Squadron in their Hurricanes

1st Sept 1941
245 Squadron move to England

25th Sept 1941
Airfield comes under the Administration of 82 Group

26th Oct 1941
504 Squadron arrive.  7 Hurricanes damaged on landing due to a strong crosswind.  The Squadron later converted to Spitfires.

22nd Jan 1942
504 Squadron move to Kirkistown

24th Jan 1942
25 Night-Fighter Squadron arrive in their Beaufighters

At this time, enemy reconnaissance over Northern Ireland were pursued to the limit of the Spitfires fuel, some being damaged and one forced down.  There was a steady drain of pilots owing to accidents, several being caused by the airfield's poor weather records.

9th Feb 1942
A scramble in poor visibility results in 1 Spitfire landing in a ploughed field in West Freugh in the Dumfries and Galloway area of Scotland; 1 Spitfire landing at the airfield with 6 gallons of fuel left and 1 disappearing altogether.  The body of the pilot, Sgt. Cannon, was washed ashore in a dingy on the Mull of Galloway.  The pilot had died of exposure.

16th May 1942
25 Night-Fighter Squadron leave

19th June 1942
504 Squadron return to Ballyhalbert

Autumn 1942
USAAF 5th Fighter Squadron arrive with their Spitfires.  The 5th Fighter Squadron was a part of the 52nd Pursuit Group of the 8th Air Force.
RAF 1493 Gunnery Flight also in residence at Ballyhalbert

Oct 1942
504 Squadron leave Ballyhalbert

19th Oct 1942
501 Squadron assume the role of Day Defence with their Spitfires

January 1943
Airfield Buildings in a deplorable state.  After a few days heavy rain, most buildings had water pouring in.  There were various complaints from around the concerning the hasty and inadequate construction.

30th April 1943
501 Squadron depart and 130 Squadron arrive with their Spitfires

5th July 1943
130 Squadron move to Honiley.  315 (Polish) Squadron arrive.

19th July 1943
26 Squadron arrive with Mustang 1s.  Station shared with 315 (Polish) Squadron and their Spitfires

13th Nov 1943
315 (P) Squadron move to join 2nd TAF

November 1943
303 Squadron arrive.  125 Squadron Beaufighters take over Night Defence.

5th Feb 1945
No.24 Fighter Wing (887/894 Naval Squadrons) arrive at Ballyhalbert.

March 1944
125 Squadron depart Ballyhalbert

21st March 1944
Kirkistown Satellite lost, being moved to RAFNI for administration.

April 1944
No.24 Naval Figther Wing depart for Culmhead in Devon

3rd April 1944
784 Naval Squadron stationed at Ballyhalbert with Fulmars

30th April 1944
303 (P) Squadron join 2nd TAF

19th May 1944
General Eisenhower, Allied Forces Supremem Commander arrived at ballyhalbert en route for RAF Bovington.

30th May 1944
1840 Naval Squadron stationed at Ballyhalbert with Hellcats.  This Squadron were to return to Ballyhalbert on two more ocassion, 2th Oct and 16th Nov 1944.

5th August 1944
No.3 Naval Fighter Wing (808/885 Naval Squadrons) arrive at Ballyhalbert equipped with Seafires.

Nov 1944
1402 Met Flight arrive.

5th Jan 1945
812 Naval Squadron arrive.

13th Jan 1945
1846 Naval Squadron arrive.

April 1945
One of the last RAF units, 1494 TT Flight departs for North Weald.

24th April 1945
Ballyhalbert Airfield transferred to the Admiralty and becomes a Royal Naval Air Station.  RAF 1402 Met Flight remain at station as a lodger.

17th July 1945
Ballyhalbert Airfield commissioned as "H.M.S. Corncrake".
Kirkistown Airfield commissioned as "H.M.S. Corncrake II"

13th Nov 1945
Ballyhalbert Airfield decommissioned by the Admiralty

15th Jan 1946
Ballyhalbert Airfield is transferred to RAF Coastal Command under Care and Maintenance Scheme

March 1960
Ballyhalbert Airfield sold at auction