needs oar point

How These Local “Fields of Green” Played a Huge Role in WW2

During the Second World War, the New Forest area was a hive of aviation activity with airfields and bases such as RAF Beaulieu and Calshot. But there were also smaller airfields that would play a huge part in the Allied victory in Europe. 

Two of those smaller airfields were close to coastline of the Solent water. They were RAF Lymington and RAF Needs Oar Point. If you walk past them today, the chances are that you would not even realise what they once were, as they now appear to be rather nondescript fields.

But during WW2 both sites were temporary Advanced Landing Grounds constructed in preparation for D-Day and the Allied invasion of Europe. RAF Lymington and Needs Oar Point didn’t have many buildings or concrete runways, but instead used steel planks laid onto the grass for aircraft to land and take off from. 

forest fields needs oar point
The commemorative board and poem on the site of RAF Needs Oar Point in 2022.

Despite this rather basic, yet effective construction, both temporary airfields were extremely busy. For example, RAF Needs Oar Point was constructed on fields to the south of Bucklers Hard and became home to 4 squadrons of Hawker Typhoons supported by up to possibly a thousand ground crew.

RAF Lymington was situated in fields to the east of Walhampton School and was used by the USAAF 50th Fighter Group. They had arrived from Florida in April 1944 and would fly missions over France in P-47 Thunderbolt fighter bombers.

Sadly, there’s very little evidence left of the two airfields to this day. Needs Oar Point was returned to agricultural use in 1945 and Lymington eventually closed in 1946. A hangar remains at Lymington and has been re-roofed this century as the field has occasionally been used as a private airstrip. 

But aside from that, both temporary airfields are now simply fields of green grass with stunning views of the Isle of Wight. These views would have been the same ones that those men saw before they flew off into the distance and over the Channel, not knowing if they would ever return… and some never did. 

I’d like to leave the last words to Michael Renyard. He was a small boy living next to RAF Needs Oar Point during WW2. In fact, he still lives in the same cottage to this day, which was used to accommodate pilots for a few months when the airfield was active.

He wrote this poem which you can see displayed next to one of the fields on a commemoration board. 

Forest Fields

by Michael Renyard

Pause when you see these fields of green,
Where once a thousand men were seen.

Some flying off to war,
To see these fields of green no more.

Some to stay, to pave the way,
For you to stand on these fields of green.

Remember them as you stand so free,
Gazing o’er the grass and to the sea, 

Where once a thousand men were seen.
They gave for us these fields of green.

In June 2022 we will be hosting an exhibition featuring the New Forest airfields of RAF Beaulieu, Calshot, Lymington, and Needs Oar Point. The exhibition runs from the 2nd to the 5th of June at East Boldre Village Hall. Details are on our events page.

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