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A Fighter Command Station at War (Hardback)

A Photographic Record of RAF Westhampnett from the Battle of Britain to D-Day and Beyond

WWII Aviation Frontline Books Battle of Britain Aviation in WWII Royal Air Force

By Mark Hillier
Frontline Books
Pages: 214
ISBN: 9781473844681
Published: 2nd September 2015


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Situated close to the South Coast, on flat land to the north of Chichester in West Sussex, lies Goodwood Aerodrome. This pleasant rural airfield was once home to squadrons of Hurricanes, Spitfires and later Typhoons. RAF Westhampnett was at the forefront of the Battle of Britain as a satellite to the Sector (or controlling) Station of RAF Tangmere, part of 11 Group, which bore the brunt of the struggle for Britain's survival in 1940.

It became the base of Wing Commander Douglas Bader until he was shot down over France, as Fighter Command took the war to the enemy with operational sweeps over Occupied Europe. Those operations included the infamous Channel Dash which saw the escape of the German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and the Dieppe raid of 1942 which involved the largest aerial battle of the war up to that date. Westhampnett's squadrons also supported the D-Day landings and the subsequent Battle of Normandy.

Packed with the largest collection of photographs of this airfield ever compiled, this illustrated publication provides a detailed history of the fighting as seen through the eyes of many of the pilots and ground crew. RAF Westhampnett brings to life those exciting but dangerous days of the Second World War through the words and photographs of those who were there.

As it says on the jacket, this is a photographic record of an RAF fighter station from the Battle of Britain to D-Day and beyond. It is however also accompanied by some well-written text that probably amounts to almost 50% of the page space. An emotive record of the young men and their machines operating from RAF Westhampnett. Will appeal strongly to all those followers of WWII history and the air war in Europe, recommended.

Read the full review here!


Mark Hillier has gathered for this book a beautiful collection of pictures. The pictures do not only show great airplanes but also a lot of beautiful faces of fantastic people. Faces that smile, faces that are earnest and especially also faces that show commitment and companionship. The author has orientated himself broadly and engrossed in the history of the field and especially also in the history of the people on the pictures. This gives interesting explanations and texts about missions, the daily life, accidents, etc. Impressive is the list of squadrons that were stationed on the field.

Mark Hillier has brought Goodwood Aerodrome and especially those who fought from this base, a beautiful tribute with this book bursting with interesting historical details.


'Packed with more than 250 wartime photographs, and accompanied by a detailed history of the fighting as seen through the eyes of many of the surviving pilots and groundcrew, this wonderful book not only brings to life those exciting but dangerous days, but helps to ensure the airfield's vital role in the Second World War is not forgotten.'

Sussex Life Magazine

'… A Fighter Command Station at War not only brings to life those exciting but dangerous days, but helps to ensure that one airfield's role in the Second World War is not forgotten.'

Essence Magazine

I suspect that many might see the name of RAF Westhampnett and wonder where it is as it it not one of the most famous RAF stations of WW2. However, if I said Goodwood, I suspect many more would recognize that name from the annual Festival of Speed or perhaps the equally famous horse racing course. I found this to be a fascinating history of the airfield and extensively illustrated with period photos throughout, all with informative captions as well...

... This is a really interesting read and brought to life by the personal accounts of events from the period along with a collection of photographs which not only includes pictures of the men who worked there, both pilots and ground crew, along with many pictures of the aircraft and ground equipment in which modellers will find plenty of useful references and ideas. These days Goodwood is a popular destination for the Festival of Speed in particular but if you read this before your next visit, it may help give you an appreciation of the recent history of the land where this modern event takes place today.

Military Modelling Online

As seen on Sky & Bullets.

Sky & Bullets

A very good an informative written work and great photos.

Amazon Reviewer - Ritchie46

This book tells the story of a fighter command base in Sussex initially known as RAF Woodcote by the ground crew but later RAF Westhampnett. The author details how it served the country - without fail - for such a long period of time. From the Battle of Britain through to Arnhem. It is a touching book that includes many first hand accounts by pilots and ground crew and a large number of black and white images of those squadrons and ground crew associated with the airfield. Well researched and well worth a read.

Amazon Reviewer - Martin Simpson

As featured in

Chichester Observer

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Milton Keynes Citizen

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Worthing Herald
 Mark Hillier

About Mark Hillier

MARK HILLIER is an author and historian, who, as well as being a member of the Royal Historical Society, is a Chartered Surveyor. A qualified pilot, he has flown for more than thirty years. With his main passion being the history of the RFC and RAF, he has researched, written, or co-authored twelve publications; his most recent works include the highly acclaimed Battle of Britain and Royal Flying Corps ‘kitbag’ titles. Mark has contributed to, and assisted on, many other publications and magazine articles. He regularly appears on TV and radio programmes and is a frequent public speaker on aviation related historical subjects. Mark provides curatorial support for aviation museums and advises on items within their collections. 

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