Paul Crone: Warrington school children discover their school's Burtonwood World War Two airbase history

  • Report and article by Granada Reports correspondent Paul Crone

If you ever drive down the M62 near Warrington, I wonder if you know that during World War Two, the motorway was in fact the main runway to an American Air Force base?

More than 18,000 troops were stationed there, and now a local school in Burtonwood is learning about the site.

Barrowhall Primary School, built on the site of the base, has held a heritage week where they've been learning all about its former residents, and what they got up to.

The airbase was Europe's largest during World War Two, and covered more than 1,000 acres, making it bigger than Heathrow Airport.

Pupils tell me the based, built in 1940 and operational until 1993, was used by more than 70,000 people and was so big it was known as 'Little America'.

RAF Burtonwood and was responsible for handling more than 15,000 US aircraft, and after the war, supported allied forces in the Berlin Airlift - delivering supplies like coal and flour to people in Germany as they were kept under a soviet blockade.

Pupils, and staff alike seemed to love every minute of the heritage week they held and got into the spirit by dressing up as anything, and everything from the Second World War.

They even put an American jeep in the school reception!

A host of stars entertained troops at the base, including comedian Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Cagney, Glenn Miller and Dame Vera Lynn.

Personnel spent small fortune in community's shops and pubs, and more than 7,000 local woman became GI brides.

Colin Shepherd, who worked at the base between 1982 and 1993, told me the base was so big you had to cycle around.

He said: "Each warehouse was 58,000ft - and we had 26 of them - everywhere really you were going on a push bike."

The special school project proved very popular with pupils!