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RAF Daws Hill is a Royal Air Force base on the outskirts of High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, England; it is on the road towards Flackwell Heath, off the A404 road and adjacent to the M40 motorway. (RAF is pronounced as separate letters.)

The base was occupied by the United States Navy. An important part of U.S. defense in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, it was home to a peace camp in 1982–1984.

The base was formerly home to London Central (Elementary) High School, part of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools.

History

American military forces were first stationed at High Wycombe in 1942, shortly after the United States' formal entrance into World War II. So urgent was the action that the Wycombe Abbey School, situated on the land that would become the base, was given three weeks to find new facilities; failure in this effort led to the school's closing, until Wycombe Abbey was returned by the U.S. in 1945.

In 1952, the base, formerly known as Daws Hill House, welcomed U.S. forces again. The following years of the Cold War saw fluctuation in the base's importance.

Approximately 800 personnel were stationed there when, in 1969, their numbers were reduced, so that, in the early 1970s, only a small group remained for upkeep of facilities.

Then, in 1975, activity escalated, revitalizing the base's importance to the American military in Europe. Its nuclear bunker, with 23,000 square feet (2,100 square meters) of space, housed high-tech equipment for the direction of nuclear bombers and guided missiles.

Use of the base was reduced with the end of the Cold War; by 1992, U.S. Defense personnel at Daws Hill numbered fewer than 350.

In 2002, the UK Ministry of Defence proposed to close R.A.F. Daws Hill some years in the future, turning the 50 acres (0.2 square kilometre) of land over to other public and private use and relocating American Naval personnel and activities to other locations near London, particularly R.A.F. Uxbridge. The plan apparently fizzled, however, when the U.S. Navy voiced its preference to remain. High Wycombe, desiring to build at least 400 new houses by 2011 for its growing population, considered the land ideal for up to 600 houses; but nearby British residents also rejected the proposal because of the changes that it would entail, including increased traffic on relatively quiet roads.

The base was home, between 1971 and 2007, to the London Central Elementary High School, with pupils in grades K–12. Also at Daws Hill are 70 housing units for American personnel and their families. Other facilities include warehouses and those for vehicle maintenance, as well as support buildings for persons who live and work at the base—e.g., a bank, a U.S. military post office, a bowling alley, sports grounds and buildings, a small exchange, an automobile refueling station, a social club, etc.

Since the US Navy's departure from the greater London area, the need for facilities at RAF Daws Hill have greatly diminished and the base is now being vacated. London Central High School graduated its last class in 2007 and is now closed. Other base facilities such as base housing and the shopette and gas station closed in August 2007[1].

See also

External links

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Coordinates: 51°37′08″N 0°44′45″W / 51.61889°N 0.74583°W / 51.61889; -0.74583

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