Air Force Bases

Royal Air Force Station Chicksands, England

Location: Located 40 miles north of London, 9 miles south of Bedford, 11 miles north of Luton, and 3 miles west of Shefford, England.

Origin of current name: Named after an ancient priory in Bedfordshire, England, on which RAF Chicksands is situated.

Date current name was assigned to base: July 1, 1959

Previous Names: Chicksands Priory (ancient); Chicksands Priory RAF Stn, 20 Sep 1951; Chicksands RAF Stn, 30 Jan 1954; RAF Chicksands Priory, 18 Dec 1955; RAF Chicksands Comms Anx, 28 Feb 1958.

Date Established: November 8, 1950

Date Occupied: November 8, 1950

Construction Began: November 8, 1950

Base Units: 10th Radio Sq, Mobile, 8 Nov 1950; 7534th AB Sq, 25 May 1951; 6950th Radio Gp, Mobile (rdsgd 6950th Scty Wg), 1 Jul 1958; 6950th Say Gp, 20 Jan 1967; 7274th AB Gp, 1 Oct 1978-.

Changes in Capability: Base originally occupied by communications units of RAF 1939ólate 1946; first cadre of 10th Radio Sq, Mobile, arrived at Chicksands to assume U.S. control of base on 10 Nov 1950; USAF units took possession of 39 buildings held by RAF 1950-1951; 7534th AB Sq hosted units of Third AF and Field Unit #2 of the National Security Agency 1951óJul 1958; general base reconstruction and rehabilitation, partly with RAF funding, 1951-1955; central heating plant, bowling alley, housing units, and a 143-pupil school constructed 1956-1957; base library and base exchange added in 1957; USAFSS (later, Electronic Security Command) assumed control of RAF Chicksands 1 Jul 1958; RAF contingent on base gradually phased out 1958-1960; over the next decade extensive construction took place, including a theatre in 1960, the 700 and 800 housing areas in 1967, a commissary in 1969, and an officer housing area 900 in 1970; Chicksands, known as "Electronic Stonehenge," provided continuous support for assigned and attached units of the USAFSS and had no flying facilities; USAFE has supported tenant organizations and off-base installations of Chicksands since 1 Oct 1978.

Changes in Status: RAF Comms Stn, 1939; activated as primary installation of the Third AF, 8 Nov 1950; off-base installation of RAF Alconbury, 1 Jul 1956; became primary installation, 1 Jul 1958.

Base was Decommissioned on January 1, 1997


Near the town of Shefford it is named after Chicksands Priory, a 12th century Gilbertine monastery located within the perimeter of the camp.

The Crown Commissioners bought the Chicksands estate on 15 April 1936, later being rented to Gerald Bagshawe, who lived there until it was requisitioned by the Royal Navy. After nine months the RAF took over operations and established a signal intelligence collection unit there, known as a Y Station.

In 1950 the site was subleased to the United States Air Force serving as the base of the 6940th radio Squadron, responsible for continued communications and SIGINT operation through the Cold War. The RAF continued to act as a host unit for the resident USAF units, including over time the 6950th United States Air Force Security Squadron, later becoming the 6950th Electronic Security Group and the 7274th Air Base Group.

In 1997 the Intelligence Corps assumed responsibility for the site, moving the Corps Headquarters from Ashford, Kent along with Intelligence Training.