Royal Air Force Woodvale is a Royal Air Force Station located on the Formby By-Pass (A565) just South of Southport, Merseyside. Although constructed as an all-weather night fighter airfield for the defence of Liverpool, it did not open until 7 December 1941 which was just after the Liverpool Blitz, which had peaked in May.
During the Second World War, RAF squadrons were brought up from the south of England to rest for short periods, during which time they defended Merseyside. 308 (Krakowski) Squadron was the first to arrive, on 12 December 1941, from RAF Northolt before leaving on 1 April 1942. Squadrons were rotated regularly. Several were Polish, including 315 (Dęblinski) Sqn and 317 (Wilenski) Sqn. Spitfire IIs and Vbs were operated by these units. Support units working with all three Services also served there, calibrating anti-aircraft guns and towing targets for the Royal Navy. In April 1945, Woodvale briefly became a Tender for the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm airfield at Burscough, HMS Ringtail, being given the name HMS Ringtail II.
After a period of inactivity, Woodvale reopened on 22 July 1946, when the Spitfire F14s of No. 611 (West Lancashire) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, moved here from Liverpool Airport at Speke. The squadron re-equipped with Spitfire F22s in February 1949. Gloster Meteor F.4 and F.8 jets were flown between May 1951 until 9 July 1951. Because of the need for better facilities, the Squadron moved to RAF Hooton Park, joining No. 610 Squadron, where it remained until its disbandment on 10 March 1957. 1957 the British legend, the Spitfire made its last operational flight, in active British military markings, from RAF Woodvale. No. 5 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-Operation Unit moved to Woodvale on 1 January 1958, and operated target-towing Meteors until 30 September 1971 when the unit was disbanded.
Since 1971, RAF Woodvale has remained a training station and is currently home to:
– Liverpool University Air Squadron — LUAS moved in from RAF Hooton Park 2 July 1951.
– Manchester and Salford University Air Squadron — (then named Manchester University Air Squadron). MASUAS moved in from Manchester’s Barton Aerodrome in March 1953.
– 10 Air Experience Flight — 10 AEF was formed at RAF Woodvale 25 August 1958.
– 631 Volunteer Gliding Squadron — 631 VGS moved in from RAF Sealand in March 2006.
– 611 (West Lancashire) RAF AUX — 611 Sqn was formed in 1936 and disbanded in 1957. It was reformed in 2013 as a reserve Sqn.
– 611 (Woodvale) Squadron ATC.
– Woodvale Aircraft Owners’ Group — WAOG.