Beverley Aerodrome


The Sqn Logos are used and produced under licence from the MOD

47 Squadron


47 sqn


In front of a fountain, a demoiselle crane's head erased - approved by King George VI in November 1938. The unofficial badge had been a sun rising over a pyramid, but tours in Russia and Sudan inspired the use of a crane (found in both countries) which, when navigating, flies high like a bomber. The fountain commemorates the amphibious role when seaplanes were flown off the Nile.


Nili nomen roboris omen - 'The name of the Nile is an omen of our strength'. An earlier unofficial motto was Sans Peur - 'Without fear'


Few people today know that there was an aerodrome on the edge of the parish of Bishop Burton during World War 1. Flying aircraft was a great novelty in 1914 since Bleriot had only managed to cross the channel in 1910. At the start of the war, the military use of airplanes was given little credibility. But the technology of flight moved on very quickly and by 1916 there were many small aerodromes springing up. They were small because the airplanes had a very limited flying range. The weaponry of the earliest planes was often a revolver or rifle shot by hand by the pilot – being very careful to avoid the blades of the airplane.

Beverley Aerodrome was situated on land taken from Mount Pleasant Farm lying within the parish of Bishop Burton and part of the racecourse on the north side of the York road. It had no connection with the aerodrome established a few miles to the north east in Leconfield in 1936. The aerodrome at Beverley was gone by the early 1920’s – its buildings sold off or assigned to other purposes. Racecourses and open land had regularly been commandeered for military purposes, and the Westwood was no exception. It was also used as an encampment mostly for soldiers under training. So there was no golf and no racing on the Westwood for the period of the war.


The water tower a relic of the Beverley Aerodrome still in situ



The water tower and what is thought to be an accomodation block in use today as a stores



Almost all physical signs of the aerodrome have now disapeared except for two buildings at the south west of the site that still stand today. There is also a brass plaque that was erected on the wall of All Saints’ Church in Bishop Burton to commemorate the 17 men who died at the Aerodrome in air accidents. The plaque exists because of the aerodrome’s partial location in the parish but more importantly through the YMCA canteen that was on the camp and the role that the late vicar (WA Pearman) and the women of the village played in supporting it

The Memorial at Bishop Burton Church to the 17 members of 47 Sqn that were killed in Training Accidents at Beverley



Sir William Hugh Stobart Chance was a 2nd Lieut in June 1916 and in his memoirs he states three weeks after posting to Castle Bromwich I was ordered to 47 Squadron at Beverley in Yorkshire, commanded by Major J. G. Small. Beverley aerodrome had been a racecourse and was like a grassy pimple; if one flew in too low one ran the danger of hitting the rising ground; and if too high, the ground receded on the far side of the pimple and, instead of touching down, one's wheels went higher and higher and another circuit became imperative. No. 47 was equipped with Avros and Armstrong Whitworths, both biplanes.


800px-Armstrong-Whitworth FK3 captured

The Avro - later to become and for many years to remain the standard primary "tutor" of the R.A.F. - was a two seater and was equipped with an 80 horse power rotary Gnome engine, manufactured in France. The 7 cylinder engine, which revolved round a stationary crankshaft, had automatic inlet valves (which sometimes refused to open) and mechanically operated exhaust valves. There was no means of controlling the speed of the engine and before taking off it was necessary to "blip" - that is to use the button on the top of the joy-stick to switch on and off. To protect the propeller on landing a skid jutted out from and was fixed to the axle of the landing wheels. The engine was lubricated with castor oil and the centrifugal force of the rotating cylinders spewed out a thin film of oil, some of which found its way aft to the discomfort and odour of the pupil and instructor. Avros were not difficult to fly, provided the engine behaved itself, and were much lighter on the controls than the relatively heavy-handed Maurice-Farmans. We were warned to treat the controls with delicacy, as too energetic handling could put the plane into a spin; and at that time the technique of recovering from a spin had not been discovered; so we flew with caution and avoided "stunting". In two weeks of dual instruction - eleven separate outings - I put in nearly two hours of flying and after three more trips - one with Major Small who commanded the Squadron - I was thought capable of "going solo". No. 47 Squadron was also equipped with Armstrong-Witworths - biplanes somewhat like the standard B.E.2c. with 90 horse power air cooled engines made to Royal Aircraft Establishment design and in fact copies of the Renault. They were good, steady planes and easy to fly, but they saw little or no active service in France and were mainly used in Salonika and the Middle East.


47 Squadron

Formed at Beverley on the 1st March 1916 as a home defence Unit protecting Hull & East Yorkshire from Zeppelin attack


1920–1944 East Africa and the Mediterranean


1944–1946 India and the Far East

De Havilland DH-98 Mosquito ExCC

1946–1967 Transport


1968–2014 Hercules


Key points in the Squadrons History

  • 1916 - Formed at Beverley.
  • 1948 - Took part in the Berlin Airlift.
  • 1956 - First RAF squadron to receive the Blackburn Beverley.

· 1982 - Took part in operation Corporate in the Falkland Islands

Current Aircraft and Location

Hercules C1/C3 (K)

Hercules C4/C5 (J)

Current Location: RAF Brize Norton