During October 1914, arrangements were made for a detachment of three flights from the Royal Flying Corps for Home Defence in the event of invasion. These flights were to have a reconnaissance role. The three flights were to be detailed from Central Flying School and two from South Farnborough. On receipt of orders from the War Office, the flights were to proceed to:
Tunbridge Wells, acting under orders of General Officer Commanding, 2nd Army
Bury St Edmunds, acting under orders of General Officer Commanding, 1st Mounted Division
Chelmsford, acting under orders of General Officer Commanding, South Midland Division
Reconnaissance of suitable landing sites was carried out and depots for petrol and oil were to be established at the landing grounds. The site chosen for Tunbridge Wells was in the vicinity of Bridge Station, for Bury St Edmunds adjacent to the barracks and for Chelmsford in the vicinity of the prison. The landing ground at Tunbridge Wells was deemed unsatisfactory and a site in the vicinity of Hutton was chosen instead.
Above: The three original landing grounds: Top left - Bury St Edmunds. Top right - Chelmsford. Bottom - Hunton.
Following reorganisations of Central Force in 1915, alternative landing grounds for the three flights to proceed to in an emergency were selected:
Flight Norwich, under General Officer Commanding 1st Mounted Division
Flight Dunmow, under General Officer Commanding 3rd Army
Flight Hunton, under General Officer Commanding 2nd Army
Norwich was considered more convenient for the 1st Mounted Division than Bury St Edmunds and the selected landing ground was at Cavalry drill ground. Following a reconnaissance, no suitable landing ground could be found at Dunmow and the landing ground already established at Chelmsford was to be retained for Flight Dunmow.