The village is dwarfed by RAF Croughton, a base on long-term lease to the United States Air Force, 2 miles (3.2 km) south-east.
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On 15 April 1943 No 1538 Beam Approach Training Flight (No 15 BATF) formed at RAF Croughton and added to the station’s training mission. Before this many of the pilots training with No 20 AFU received their Beam Approach Training at RAF Feltwell. Both No 1538 BATF and No 20 AFU remained at RAF Croughton until 18 October 1944 when the airfield returned to Flying Training Command. On this date No 1538 BATF disbanded and No 20 AFU retired to Kidlington.
It consisted of 694 acres (2.81 km2) consolidated from three farms. Three grass runways with concrete taxiways dominated the high ground with the tower and other infrastructure buildings along the north side of the station and the slope leading up to the runways. In June 1940 the station became a satellite for RAF Upper Heyford for No 16 Operational Training Unit (No 16 OTU) to provide the unit with extra airfield space for night-flying training.
On 12 May 2005, the 422 ABG became a unit of the 501st Combat Support Wing (501 CSW) when the 501 CSW replaced the 38 CSW. This change was made to functionally align all major Geographically Separate Units (GSUs) in England. This created the 422 ABG in charge of the 422nd Air Base Squadron, the 422nd Communications Squadron, the 422nd Civil Engineering Squadron and the 422nd Security Forces Squadron.
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Croughton is a small village in the South Northamptonshire district of Northamptonshire, England. The population of the civil parish was 992 at the 2011 census. It is close to the border with Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and is six kilometres southwest of the town of Brackley. Along with Aynho it is one of the county's two southernmost villages.
National Review (a US publication) refers in a July 2015 story to: 'the Joint Intelligence Analysis Center (JIAC), an “intelligence fusion center” that Congress approved for construction at U.K. airbase RAF Croughton. The facility would bring together intelligence analysts from U.S. European Command (EUCOM), AFRICOM, and NATO under one roof, fostering a level of collaboration military commanders say is crucial to confronting Russian aggression and Islamic fundamentalism in Africa'.
Croughton is situated upon the B4031 road running west from Buckingham, and is close to the Ockley Brook, a minor tributary of the River Cherwell, which it meets southwest of Aynho.
RAF Station Croughton was built in 1938, this station was first known as Brackley Landing Ground until 1940 when it became RAF Brackley. In July 1941 the name changed again and the station became RAF Croughton.
On 14 January 2004, the 420th Air Base Group (420 ABG) was established at RAF Fairford to improve the oversight and advocacy of GSUs that had been aligned beneath the 100 ARW to include the 422 ABS. The 420 ABG reported directly to 3rd Air Force until 26 May 2004, when the 38th Combat Support Wing (38 CSW) was established to provide oversight/advocacy on behalf of three GSU groups. The 38 CSW and 420 ABG were responsible for the day-to-day operations of the 422 ABS and RAF Croughton.
Royal Air Force Croughton or more simply RAF Croughton is a Royal Air Force station which is currently a United States Air Force communications station in Northamptonshire, England. It is southeast of the village of Croughton. The station is home to the 422nd Air Base Group and operates one of Europe's largest military switchboards and processes approximately a third of all U.S. military communications in Europe.
Much of this training was for Commonwealth pilots (Canadians, South Africans, Australians, and New Zealanders) on Handley Page Hampdens, Bristol Blenheims, and Wellington bombers. The unit fell under the operational control of the newly formed No 7 Group of RAF Bomber Command.
In November 2013 Tom Watson MP, a former UK defence minister, was reported as saying that there was: "an urgent need for “public scrutiny” of the activities at RAF Croughton. The US Air Force station is a major hub for American military and clandestine communications". It is reported to have been central to the monitoring of the mobile phone of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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There is no one predominant pronunciation of the village's name; residents pronounce its first syllable to rhyme either with "thou" or with "crow". The "thou" pronunciation was adopted by the Americans nearby at RAF Croughton when the airbase was in use by the USAF.[dubious – discuss] In early records the name has spellings such as Crewelton, and is thought to mean "town in the fork of a river".
While the station remained a satellite for RAF Upper Heyford and No 16 OTU until July 1942 and even partially re-equipped with Wellington bombers, its future had already changed. No 23 Squadron of Flying Training Command (FTC) was desperately seeking a suitable airfield to re-house its No 1 Glider Training School (No 1 GTS).
Its current home was a small airfield at Thame in Buckinghamshire and FTC felt it inadequate for glider training. Several airfields in the near vicinity made the short list, but RAF Croughton became the new home for the gliders. On 19 July 1942, No 1 GTS began to move in and by 1 August 1942 they were settled into their new home. During this training Hawker Hectors, American Harvards, and Miles Masters pulled Hotspur gliders, while DC-3s pulled the larger Horsa gliders.
Chris Cole – Director Drone Wars UK www.droneswar.net. Lindis Percy Coordinator CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF AMERICAN BASES – CAAB www.caab.org.uk also on Facebook and Twitter: @C_A_A_B
The village has a cooperative which is available for all daily essentials, only closing on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day, as well as being the home of Croughton All Saints Primary School.
Ahead of the national demo there on 4 October, Lindis Percy and Chris Cole take a look at RAF Croughton & its role in the US drone wars.
One week to go to the 1st ever Croughton Family Beer Festival.