Nov 12 2019

Ashenbank Wood’s WW2 history

Ashenbank Wood in Kent has centuries of fascinating history, and its use during the Second World War is especially interesting.


Hidden deep in the woods are the remaining features of three WW2 RAF camps. The camp’s 76 structures included three officers’ barracks and sergeants’ quarters, built for RAF personnel stationed at the local airfield, RAF Gravesend. Towards the end of the war, they were used as a training site for the Royal Navy who took over the camp. Photos from the time suggest the buildings were constructed of timber and corrugated iron.


Map of one of the camps

Following the end of the war, due to a severe housing shortage, civilian families were housed here until 1955. The huts were occupied by families who’d lost their homes in the conflict.


Now, only a few bunkers remain from the original camp. Plus our interpretation boards on site helping visitors learn about Ashenbank’s unusual past.


We recently received a newly discovered photo from a family housed here after the war, – see above. With space for few possessions, a single stove for heating in the living room, and washing in the sink or a tin bath, it was hard living, and especially cold in winter. However, from interviews with children who lived there at the time, they immensely enjoyed their woodland living experience, with fond memories of playing by an old oak tree and racing the giant stag beetles they’d find.


Woods are fascinating places, aren’t they?!

Air raid shelter

Photos from the camp

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