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Second World War, New Forest airfields
Beaulieu, Holmsley South and Stoney Cross - an introduction

Part of the old service road near the site of Beaulieu Airfield's 'B Flight' hangar
Part of the old service road near the
site of Beaulieu Airfield's 'B flight' hangar

The New Forest made a major contribution to the Second World War effort and was home to a number of substantial airfields including Beaulieu (World War Two) Airfield (A), Holmsley South (B) and Stoney Cross (C).

Other smaller, but none-the-less important, airfields were located in and around the edge of the area.

Now, more than 60 years after the end of hostilities, airfield evidence can still be seen.

For example, at Beaulieu Heath, still very visible on the ground and clearly shown on the Ordnance Survey map, is the 5-sided outline of the main taxi-track which once had contained within, three runways laid out in the shape of the letter 'A'.

Now, even though most of the concrete has been removed, the location of the runways is still evident on the ground, betrayed by relatively short vegetation that contrasts markedly with the gorse and heather on either side. Fittingly, one length of runway, together with an adjacent area of concrete set down in the early 1950s, is used as a model aircraft flying area, whilst a portion of the main taxi-track forms part of a cycle-way.

A number of buildings associated with Beaulieu Airfield can be seen around nearby Dilton, including on the edge of a field adjacent to the open Forest, two old air raid shelters located close to the remains of accommodation blocks used by members of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).

Then not far away, close to a public footpath amongst trees on private land south-east of Furze Hill, are four ivy-clad, moss-encrusted, dilapidated, 7-sided, probably asbestos, buildings known as Handcraft Type Huts, the name deriving from the Handcraft Works in Watford, home of manufacturers Universal Asbestos Company Limited.

And finally, close to Roundhill campsite is an old water tower, a further reminder of the importance of Beaulieu Airfield.

At Stoney Cross, part of the old runways and taxi-ways are now used as public roads, whilst some of the narrow concrete roads within the nearby Longbeech Campsite were once used by aircraft moving to still visible dispersal pans, places around the perimeter of the airfield set aside for standing aircraft. Dispersal pans are still prominently visible in Ocknell Campsite, too, and also near Ocknell Pond.

Lots more information about Stoney Cross and Beaulieu Airfields is available here - Stoney Cross Airfield and Beaulieu Airfield - including satellite images, detailed plans of the airfield and contemporary photographs.

At Holmsley, two small buildings of World War Two vintage remain on private land adjacent to the open Forest, whilst Holmsley South airfield taxi-ways and dispersal pans continue to be used as roads and parking places within Holmsley campsite. Runways, too, can be traced here, even though, as elsewhere, most of the concrete was removed many years ago.

References:
The New Forest at War: John Leete
Twelve Airfields: Alan Brown
New Forest Airfields: Ken Davies

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** New Forest ponies and other animals**
New Forest ponies in the road
Commoners' ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but during 2019 agisters attended 159 road traffic accidents involving these animals, a small but disappointing increase on the 154 accidents attended in 2018.

Sadly, 58 animals were killed - 35 ponies, 13 cows, 8 donkeys and 2 sheep, whilst a further 32 were injured - 3 pigs, 9 donkeys, 11 cows and 9 ponies.

(Forty-three accidents occurred in daylight, 15 at twilight and 101 in the dark. Twenty-seven accidents were not reported by the driver involved).
** Always take care when driving **
New Forest seasonal highlights
March
Lesser celandine blooms illuminate woodlands, and heathland edges.
Fallow deer remain in single sex herds, the bucks at this time always separate from the does.
Curlews return from the coast to breed in and around the New Forest's wetter areas.
Red admiral butterflies are increasingly seen on bright, sunny days.

April
Redstarts are amongst the first returning long-distance migrant birds that arrive in April.
Large red damselflies take to the wing, the first of many such species that will soon be seen in the New Forest.
Bluebells blossom, sometimes in good numbers in ungrazed woodlands.
Badger cubs first appear above ground towards the end of the month.
The Glorious New Forest
New Forest ponies in the road
New Forest ponies in the road
Marvellous landscapes, marvellous wildlife
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley