|Great Saling was the original Air Ministry name for the airfield when construction was begun in 1942 by the 819th Engineer Battalion (Aviation) of the US Army however on 21 May 1943 the official name was changed to Andrews Field in honour of Lieutenant General Frank M. Andrews. |
Frank M. Andrews was a pioneer exponent of air power and was destined to become a very high ranking figure in the history of the Second World War. Andrews was the first head of an autonomous American air force and the first air officer to serve on the Army's general staff. In early 1943, he took the place of Dwight D. Eisenhower as commander of all U.S. troops in the European Theatre of Operations.
On 3 May 1943 General Andrews took off in a B-24 Liberator from RAF Bovingdon on a trip back to the United States. A weather check would have meant a landing at Prestwick, but it seems the crew were confident that this was unnecessary. By the time the aircraft reached Iceland the weather had socked in and while searching for Meeks Field, the aircraft crashed into a hillside. Only the rear gunner survived from the 15 on board. And so it was that Frank Andrews was honoured in a little corner of England.
Andrews Field was the only named US airfield in the United Kingdom. It was the first of the fourteen Class A airfields built by American forces in the UK to be completed. The U.S. Army 819th Engineer Battalion (Aviation) commenced work on the site in July 1942. The runways were completed by November. While the basic airfield itself was declared completed by mid-January 1943, there was still much work to he done on other facilities and in March additional help was obtained from another engineer battalion.
A standard bomber airfield to Class A specification. Andrews Field had a 6,000 ft main runway aligned 09-27. and twl 4,200 ft secondaries at 02-20 and 15-33. Fifty-one hardstands consisted of 46 standard loops, four large loops and one pan. There were two dispersed T-2 hangars and accommodation for 2.841 personnel.