Local historian and Bognor Regis Post historian Sylvia Endacott gave an interesting and informative talk to Bognor University of the Third Age (U3A) members about the town’s Second World War airfield.
At the group’s May meeting, Sylvia explained – with the help of photographs of flying action – how it was decided by the government in 1942 there was a need for an increase in the number of airfields in order to help the war effort.
Bognor Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) was commissioned as one of 13 to be built.
The airfield was mainly located in the Chalcraft Lane area but the amount of land required covered the surrounding roads and villages.
Work to build the airfield was arranged by Chichester Council and involved many local farmers and residents, including children, to clear the site ready for the runways and hangers to be built.
Nearby Morrell’s Farm was commissioned as the HQ and the Old Chapel Forge used as a workshop. As these were not intended to be permanent airfields, the runways were not concrete.
Sommerfield Tracking was used instead. It was simple to lay and remove. These airfields were non-RAF and were to be used by both UK and overseas forces. This was primarily Norwegian in the case of Bognor Regis.
Bognor ALG opened in June, 1943, and was initially home to Spitfire squadrons and, in 1944, Norwegian squadrons arrived.
The airfield attracted great interest to residents and, in particular, schoolchildren who would often spend their time sitting on the perimeter fences watching the aircraft land and take-off.
Residents were encouraged to interact with the aircrews and ground staff. This included doing their washing, holding tea parties and allowing them to have a bath in their home.
One notable visitor was Crown Prince Olav of Norway, who informally met Norwegian personnel at the base.