This week marks the 70th anniversary of the end of an era in Lancashire’s aviation history.
On this week in 1945, the US Army Air Force announced thousands of its servicemen would bid farewell to Lancashire.
The Stars and Stripes were being prepared to be lowered for the very final time as the US 8th Air Force continued its closing down of Base Air Depot No 2 at Warton – which between 1942 and 1945 had become known as the ‘world’s greatest air depot’.
Today, it is home to BAE Systems.
At its height, the air depot employed more than 10,000 people working around the clock on overhauls, modifications and maintenance to every single type of American aircraft used in European operational theatres during the Second World War.
All of them, at some point, passed through what the Americans dubbed BAD-2 as part of the 45,000 aircraft movements it saw during its existence.
Among the 10,000 aircraft processed from when the Americans first arrived at Warton in 1942 were P-51 Mustangs and B-24 Liberators.
But at 12.30pm on May 8, 1945, an announcement from Commanding Officer Col TW Scott over the loudspeakers confirmed the official notification of the end of the War - and the great rundown of the base commenced.
But while BAD-2 commenced its final stages in August 1945, it left an indelible print on the history of aviation at Warton and became legendary for its astonishing achievements during the Allied effort.
Announcing the USAAF’s withdrawal to “All Officers and Enlisted Men of Base Air Depot 2”, Colonel Scott said: “If it were not for the fact that this command has been organised and developed for a purpose now accomplished – that of doing its part in winning the war – it would seem lamentable to see it disintegrate.
“But, we have done our part in bringing the great conflict to a victorious conclusion, and for the efficiency and expediency you are now showing in winding up activities here, I further bestow and emphasize my commendation.
“My parting wish, then, is that you will know and believe that I sincerely appreciate all you have done and the way in which you have done it – and that health, happiness, good fortune and all the best will be your heritage.”
The withdrawal continued until February 1946 when the final Americans vacated and the RAF, the station’s original owners, moved back in.