Airfields were built at Doncaster and Sheffield for the aeroplanes of 33 Squadron RFC ‘A’ Flight. The squadron flew BE2c aeroplanes that were equipped to fly at night and were made into fighters by fitting a machine gun pointing upwards.
Doncaster Training Airfield
The Racecourse was used temporarily during 1915 until a new airfield opened beside Town Moor Road in early 1916.
Hundreds of pilots learnt to fly in Doncaster. From 1917, they used the revolutionary Smith-Barry Flying Training Course to become fighter pilots. The course was structured, intensive and based on real scenarios. It provided better training than pilots had previously received, and was later adopted by many other Air Forces.
Sheffield, Coal Aston Repair Depot and Airfield
Coal Aston airfield opened in 1915 as a simple landing ground for ‘A’ Flight 33 Squadron to defend Sheffield from bombing by German Zeppelins.
In 1916 it became No2 Northern Aircraft Repair Depot (NARD), rebuilt as a factory for repairing damaged aircraft and engines from training airfields across Yorkshire. Over 200 aircraft were rebuilt by the 2 NARD by 1918. This skilled work was undertaken by women as well as men.
Other temporary landing grounds were at Bancroft Farm near Finningley, and built around Sheffield at Redmires, Ecclesfield and Wombwell.