Now home to a trailblazing museum, Old Sarum has a rich heritage – including the foundations of battlefield support
Two miles to the south, the 404ft tall spire of Salisbury Cathedral was guaranteed to ease the brow of a trainee pilot returning from a cross-country flight. If more reassurance were needed, on the western perimeter the distinctive concentric grassy circles of Old Sarum hill fort, dating from around 400 BC, would do the trick.
Built by German prisoners of war and the Chinese Labour Corps and known originally as Ford Farm, Old Sarum in Wiltshire was ready to receive Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2s and Airco DH.6s of 98 and 99 Squadrons, Royal Flying Corps, in August 1917. The largest resident unit was 11 Training Depot Station, established on the day the RAF came into being, April 1, 1918; its varied fleet had decamped to Boscombe Down by the time of the Armistice.
Both Boscombe Down, three miles to the north, and the vast expanse of Salisbury Plain beyond influenced Old Sarum’s evolution as a pioneer of army co-operation, or battlefield support in more modern parlance.