For centuries Farnborough was a small town south-west of London, but today it has transformed into a large, vibrant commercial community, synonymous worldwide with the international air show, which it has hosted since 1949, and the home of military aviation. However, the real origins of Farnborough’s military heritage lie not with aviation but with the arrival of the army in 1856 and the building of a new barrack complex in South Farnborough, called North Camp. The army’s presence was further expanded with the arrival of the Royal Engineers, at South Farnborough, followed by the formation of the Army Air Battalion, and then the army’s Royal Flying Corps. The Royal Flying Corps was eventually replaced by the creation at Farnborough of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Aircraft Establishment was set up. The Royal Engineers also established a camp in North Farnborough and during the war years Farnborough was home to many other units including troops from the Canadian Army. German prisoners of war were engaged in building housing in Farnborough, captured German scientists were brought here and interrogated about their knowledge of aviation and rocket development and captured German planes were flown and frequently crashed at Farnborough. The war years also saw many heroic stories and tragic events unfold as Farnborough was routinely attacked.
Farnborough has a fantastic military heritage that includes hospitals, notable burials and a wealth of military buildings and structures as well as a fine and often overlooked collection of military monuments and memorials along with its association with many military personalities.
This, then, is the real story of Farnborough’s military heritage.