RAF Ouston (X5OU)

 

12 Grp. Fighter OTU

Opened 10 March 1941 as a Fighter Sector HQ under 13 Group to replace Usworth, its staff being drawn mainly from that station.  Its first squadron was 317, which moved over from RAF Acklington at the end of April.  Equiped with Hurricanes, this recently formed Polish unit claimed its first kill on June 2 when a Ju88 was sent into the North Sea. Relieved by 122 Squadron from Turnhouse on June 26, 1941, 317 went to Colerne.

No. 122 Squadron's Spitfires transferred to Catterick in August 1941, leaving 232, which had been there the previous month, and which eventually left for the Middle East in November. Another squadron, 131, reformed at Ouston on June 20, 1941 with a large proportion of Belgian pilots but soon moved to Catterick.

Another squadron which did not fire its guns in anger whilst at Ouston was No. 81 which moved in from Turnhouse early in 1942. Its Spitfires returned to Edinburgh five weeks later and a further month was spent at Ouston during the early Summer.

Throughout its first year of existence, the station had also served as a satellite for 55 OTU's Hurricanes from Usworth but was given up when the OTU moved to Annan at the end of April 1942.

No. 242 Squadron was here for two weeks in May 1942 with Spitfires, being replaced by the reformed 243 Squadron on June 1. No. 243 became operational within a fortnight and flew coastal patrols and scrambles in defence of the Northeast until moving to Turnhouse at the beginning of September. No. 72 Squadron appeared briefly in the Autumn of 1942 to re-equip before overseas posting.

To cover the need for ASR off the East coast, 281 Squadron had been formed at Ouston on March 29, 1942, equipped initially with Defiants. In February 1943, Walrus amphibians were added and by June, when the squadron moved to Wolsington, the Defiants had been replaced by Ansons.

Also in 1942, a flight of 410 Squadron was detached here for night-fighter patrol. Defiants were used first, but despite some reluctance on the part of the crews, a change was made to Beaufighters.(More information on Beaufighter Squadrons in WW II is here.)

An Army cooperation squadron, No. 613, arrived in August 1942 flying Mustang Is and took part in many local exercises before going south again at the beginning of March 1943. It was joined for a short period in August by 226 Squadron's Bostons, which had the misfortune to lose three aircraft in crashes on their first day at Ouston. Other unusual lodgers were the Hurricanes of 804 Squadron which flew in from Macrihanish on June 3, 1943 and left for Twatt on February 4.

Austers appeared on January 31, 1943 when 657 Squadron formed at Ouston, flying many Army exercises until leaving for North Africa in August. No. 198 Squadron flew its Typhoons in from Digby late in January 1943 but soon transferred to Acklington to complete its working-in period on the new type.

Ouston's last operational squadron was No. 350, which spent most of June and July 1943 flying monotonous convoy patrols before returning to Acklington. On June 21, 1943, 62 OTU began to move in from Usworth, which had been found increasingly unsuitable for its work. The unit continued to train radar operators for the night-fighter force until disbanding on June 6, 1945. Ansons were used at first, but in the final months Wellingtons began to replace them.

No. 80 OTU which specialized in training French pilots on Spitfires came over from Morpeth in July 1945 and flew from here prior to disbandment on March 8, 1946. The Harvards of 22 SFTS were displaced from Calveley in Cheshire to Ouston in May 1946, but the school soon disbanded.

Under the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 607 Squadron reformed with Spitfires on May 10, 1946, converted to Vampires in 1951 and operated them up to March 1957 when it disbanded. No. 1965 Flight of 664 Squadron was also based at Ouston in 1953 with Austers.

Continuing in its reserve role, the station housed Durham UAS, 11 AEF, 641 Gliding School, and was employed as an RLG by the Jet Provosts of 6 FTS Acklington. In 1967 it became the North East Regional Airport for five months while Newcastle's runway was being lengthened and renovated.

[from www.skylighters.org/ouston/]

 

The Army took over in 1974 and renamed the site as Albermarle Barracks. Cruise missile store and ordnance depot for Otterburn ranges. Runways still active