I love to know the history of lakes I am fishing. I find it fascinating and it gives you a brief history of where you are fishing. So I started to searching the internet and found some amazing stuff.
Situated on the western edge of the New Forest, between Ringwood and Fordingbridge, Ibsley was a busy RAF and USAAF Fighter airfield during World War II, after which it became an accommodation base for personnel from the nearby R.A.F. station at Sopley. R.A.F. Ibsley opened on 15th February 1941, flying activities ceased in 1946, and the station finally closed in 1952.
It was at Ibsley, during the late summer of 1941, that the flying sequences for the classic film ‘First of the Few’ starring David Niven, Leslie Howard and Rosamund John,depicting the story of the development of the Spitfire by Reginald J. Mitchell were filmed, with pilots of No’s. 118 and 501 Squadrons taking part between operational sorties.
During its operational years, many squadrons were stationed at R.A.F. Ibsley, including no’s. 32, 66, 118, 124, 129, 165, 234, 257, 263, 302, 310, 312, 313, 421, 452, 501, 504 and 616 of the Royal Air Force, also No. 7 Flying Instructors School and the No 1. Glider Pick-Up Unit. Ibsley was also used, for short periods, in 1942 and 1944, by the United States Army Air Force, the 1st Fighter Group, 8th Air Force The 48th, 367th, 371st Fighter Groups, 9th Air Force, and 67th Tactical Recce unit of the 9th Air Force.
A number of wartime structures still remain at Ibsley and several, including the old Control Tower, the Battle Headquarters, Direction Finding Station Blast Wall and twelve remaining Compass Points, a Sleeping Shelter and Stanton Shelter, have been registered by the Group with the Imperial War Museum’s Defence of Britain Project. This project aims to list the World War II structures still remaining in this country. These structures have also been registered with the Sites and Monuments Register of the Hampshire County Council
On 24th April 2000 a polished granite Commemorative Plaque resting on a Purbeck stone base was unveiled to mark the role R.A.F. Ibsley played in World War II and beyond. It rests on the existing wartime concrete base of the airfields old guardroom/picket post at Cross Lanes, Mockbeggar. A link to google maps for directions can be found on our get involved page.
I also found this propaganda video with David Niven filmed on the airfield.
Ibsley Control Tower, Mockbeggar
Ibsley Control Tower combines so much that is of interest to those appreciative of atmosphere. Ibsley was a very busy RAF airfield in the last proper war. It was the location for a morale-boosting wartime movie starring David Niven, and was taken over by the Americans in 1943. Ibsley played a major role in the D-Day invasion. It survived for precious few years, the airfield having been lost, almost entirely, to gravel abstraction. All that is left is a ruined and forlorn watch office (control tower) surrounded by lakes, now known as Mockbeggar Lakes, with wooded islands.
There is undeniable atmosphere, and a definite sense of foreboding due to graffiti and drug-related litter suggesting regular use as a rendezvous for illicit nocturnal activity – which seems all the more strange when one considers the affluent and respectable New Forest village setting. Looking closely at the daubed and battered walls it is just possible to make out three forces’ sweethearts painted by US airmen. Well meaning plans to save and restore the building have come to nothing and, unfortunately, its complete demise seems imminent. Ibsley Tower is on private land belonging to the gravel company, but its isolation and neglect would suggest that trespass for the sake of curiosity is unlikely to be a problem.
It can be viewed lawfully from the north-western most corner of Fir Walk, public access woodland a quarter of a mile to the south of the village of Mockbeggar, which itself is just off the A338, about two miles north of Ringwood.