The German bombing raids which began in 1915 with Zeppelins and continued in 1916 and 1917 with the use of aircraft forced Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, to take urgent action. He appointed General John Smuts to review the air situation. Smuts’ report recommended that the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service be amalgamated. On 1 April 1918 the amalgamation took place and the Royal Air Force was formed.
A month before in March 1918 three Royal Flying Corps squadrons arrived at the partially built aerodrome at Tangmere to work-up prior to leaving for France. On 1 April these squadrons became part of the newly formed RAF. Following the departure of the three RAF squadrons in July 1918, one to France and the other two to be disbanded the aerodrome prepared itself for the arrival of new aviators of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force who were ‘over here’ to learn to fly the Handley Page O/400 bomber. The American ‘Training Depot’ was opened on 1 August and training began but was not completed before the Armistice in November 1918.
This temporary exhibition to be held at the Museum between 30 March and 15 April covers the formation of the RAF 100 years ago, why this famous aerodrome was built at Tangmere and its early years of operation.
Entry to the exhibition is included in the normal Museum entry fees.