Situated on the western edge of the New Forest, between Ringwood and Fordingbridge, Ibsley was a busy RAF and USAAF Fighter airfield during World War II, after which it became an accommodation base for personnel from the nearby R.A.F. station at Sopley. R.A.F. Ibsley opened on 15th February 1941, flying activities ceased in 1946, and the station finally closed in 1952.
It was at Ibsley, during the late summer of 1941, that the flying sequences for the classic film 'First of the Few' starring David Niven, Leslie Howard and Rosamund John,depicting the story of the development of the Spitfire by Reginald J. Mitchell were filmed, with pilots of No's. 118 and 501 Squadrons taking part between operational sorties.
During its operational years, many squadrons were stationed at R.A.F. Ibsley, including no's. 32, 66, 118, 124, 129, 165, 234, 257, 263, 302, 310, 312, 313, 421, 452, 501, 504 and 616 of the Royal Air Force, also No. 7 Flying Instructors School and the No 1. Glider Pick-Up Unit. Ibsley was also used, for short periods, in 1942 and 1944, by the United States Army Air Force, the 1st Fighter Group, 8th Air Force The 48th, 367th, 371st Fighter Groups, 9th Air Force, and 67th Tactical Recce unit of the 9th Air Force.
A number of wartime structures still remain at Ibsley and several, including the old Control Tower, the Battle Headquarters, Direction Finding Station Blast Wall and twelve remaining Compass Points, a Sleeping Shelter and Stanton Shelter, have been registered by the Group with the Imperial War Museum's Defence of Britain Project. This project aims to list the World War II structures still remaining in this country. These structures have also been registered with the Sites and Monuments Register of the Hampshire County Council
On 24th April 2000 a polished granite Commemorative Plaque resting on a Purbeck stone base was unveiled to mark the role R.A.F. Ibsley played in World War II and beyond. It rests on the existing wartime concrete base of the airfields old guardroom/picket post at Cross Lanes, Mockbeggar. A link to google maps for directions can be found on our get involved page.