On March 28th 1941 the Admiralty requisitioned a portion of
land from the estate of Lord Cowdray for use as an
over-spill storage site for RNAS Lee-on-Solent. The site,
normally a polo field, had been used as an occasional
aerodrome, usually referred to as Midhurst or South
Ambersham before the outbreak of war but had no permanent
facilities. The Royal Navy set up 25 pairs of Dutch Barns
which were widely dispersed around the site for aircraft
storage - each barn could accommodate one biplane, wings
The station opened in June 1941, Lieut.-Commander A.E.Rose
RN was appointed as Officer in Charge in late August when
the Storage Section opened. Initially flying was restricted
to arrivals and despatches of storage aircraft, the landing
area was obstructed at all other times. What records still
exist suggest that the station only stored biplanes, at
least 16 Albacore, 12 Swordfish, 70 Walrus, and 1 Sea Otter.
The first recorded arrival is that of Swordfish DK785 which
arrived at the Storage Section November 20th 1941 having
transferred from RNAS Lee-on Solent; it was only a short
stay resident however as it was issued to 829 Sqn in
Beginning in the summer of 1943 Air Training Corps camps
were held at Cowdray Park, ATC cadets were given instruction
on aircraft and flying experience. Swordfish were used
during the first camp, 29/30th June, and again on July 23rd.
Walrus's took over ATC flying from July 27th. Further camps
are known to have been held during 1943 on 2-4 Aug, 16-25,
Aug, 6- 8, Sep. It is unclear whether ATC flying took place
during 1944 but it shows up in records again but January
Specially modified Lysanders of 161 Special Duties Squadron
RAF trained at Cowdray Park on occasion, practicing their
MPU (Mail Pick Up) technique. This involved a mail bag being
suspended between two poles, 15 feet apart, and rigged with
lights to give the pilot visual cues, the plane would
approach at 30 feet, near stall speed, and a retractable
hook snatched the mail bag. It is not clear when this
training took place but it is most likely daring 1943.
The landing area obstructions were removed in 1944 when the
field was pressed into use by the RN Photographic
Development unit from RNAS Ford. The unit's 4 Anson
aircraft, the RN Photographic Flight, arrived in April to
begin work; Ford had only recently returned to Admiralty
control and was fast becoming overcrowded. They remained
until returning top Ford in October 1944. The filed was also
believed to have been utilised by Proctors doing circuits
and bumps during late 1944/early 1945, presumably flying
from Ford also - these may have been mistakenly identified
as Reliants, 4 of which were present on the field during
this time, one acting as a station flight.
With the war in Europe over Cowdray Park was reduced to Care
& Maintenance status by the end of May 1945 its aircraft all
relocated to other stations. The station finally Paid off
and de-requisitioned September 30th 1945.
Although listed as 'on books of Daedalus' in the
CB 4368 A, Cowdray park has no separate entries in the Navy List
under DAEDALUS (as Sandbanks & Lawrenny Ferry do) so there
is no way to know which officers were attached to the
Storage Section. Only two have been identified by name, Lt.
Cdr A.E. Rose (ret) and Tempy. Sub. Lit. (P) RNVR
J. W. C. Moffatt.
Click here for a list of
The Airfield Information
Exchange - AiX ARG. 2012. Cowdray Park. [ONLINE] Available
[Accessed 09 November 13].