RAF Mill Green

WW2 Airfield Construction Wing

By Robert Gill

Earthmoving equipment training in the gravel pit which is now Gosling Stadium
Welwyn Hatfield Mill Green Museum
Map of RAF Mill Green in 1944

In the early days of World War 2, it was realized that there would be a need for specific capabilities for airfield and road construction to meet the demand for more bomber and fighter stations. No 2 School of Airfield Construction was formed within the Royal Air Force No 24 Group Technical Training Command. This school was formed at a camp at Mill Green in 1942 situated between Ascots Lane, Hertford Road and Gypsy Lane. By 1943, the camp known as RAF Mill Green, had become the 5351 Airfield Construction Workshop.

Before the formation of the school, members of the RAF trained with a private firm, Jack Olding and Co at no cost to the tax payer. Jack Olding had set up a company near Hatfield and was a main dealer in Caterpillar earth moving equipment and Deere tractors. Training took place on the Jack Olding site and on a piece of rough ground on the north side of the Hatfield to Hertford road.

The Mill Green camp grew to include training, plant maintenance and a spares/repair facility with practical training taking place on a 20 acre site of an old gravel pit near Twentieth Mile Bridge in Welwyn Garden City. The quarry had originally been used to supply material for the building of Welwyn Garden City in the 1920s and 1930s.

Life in the early days of airman posted to the camp was hard with the accommodation being relatively basic huts in the woods surrounded by mud roads and tracks. Leisure time took advantage of the local public houses like The Comet, The Beehive, Pear Tree, The Woodman, The Cherry Tree as well as the Green Man in Mill Green. A visit to the pub meant they had to wear wellingtons and carry shoes which they changed into once they reached Ascot Lane. The boots where hidden in the hedgerows, finding the boots on the way back was allegedly a challenge. The Community Centre at Hatfield Hyde was popular for dances and a favorite spot for most airman.

RAF Mill Green closed in April 1948 when the depot moved to RAF Church Lawford near Rugby. The Mill Green site was passed to the Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield Development Corporation and was used to house construction workmen building the two towns. When the site was no longer required, the site was used as workshops. Mill Green golf course is now situated where the main site was situated. The accommodation area of the Camp is now the caravan site off Ascots Lane. The Twentieth Mile Bridge gravel pits now house the Gosling Sports Complex. The Jack Olding site is now a Tesco Supermarket and the original training ground along the Hertford Road is now part of the Mill Green golf course.

More information including detail charts of the camp can be found at the Welwyn Hatfield Museum, Mill Green.

This page was added on 04/09/2013.

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  • My grandfather, Richard Binnie never spoke of his war years but after poring through some papers we found a menu for christmas dinner 1943 which he had sent home. The only things we know about him was he started in a maintenance unit and then went on to airfield construction. We believe he was wounded in France, shrapnel to leg and burns on the neck. Just wondering if anyone reading this might remember anything about him. Please let me know if you do.

    By Mark Binnie (08/09/2020)
  • My father came to this country from Lithuania at the end of ww2 and was placed in mill green camp prior to meeting and marrying my mum, I am interested in researching my family tree in Lithuania but with limited information it’s difficult to know where to start. I have his registration card when he arrived in this country and his journey through the country until he finally arrived at mill green camp

    By Sandra Smith (31/10/2018)
  • I arrived at Mill Green around April 1947 from West Kirby where I was in training, having joined RAF at Padgate 3rd Feb. I came for a trade test to be a Civil Engineer Asist as in civvy street I had been a Junior Engineer with Holloway Bros. I always remember the dreadful hot day I arrived at Mill Green and had to walk from Hatfield Station to the camp with all my kit bag etc. Part of my test was to set out with pegs a plan of a simple building using tape and string, then an interview with the officer I/c Sqdn Ldr Duncan Sands , who knew a certain W Storey Wilson -quite a famous Engineer who worked with Holloways. I did pass the Trade Test and so became an LAC. Ultimately after two years plus I became a Sergeant at Biggin Hill, whichactually was the substantive rank for a CEA-I aid in the meantime become a Corporal going round quite a few sites such as Duxford, Middle Wallop , Boscombe Down and ending up at Biggin Hill where we did all the concrete bases and floor and perimeter areas for a new hangar[built by others} Quite a good experience all told in the 2 yrs and 3 months conscription, which I really enjoyed
    Don Hillier 3101307

    By Don Hillier (09/08/2018)