Werl has been the home of the 17th Squadron from its inception in 1956 until its return to Belgium.

Situated in the heart of Westphalia, a few miles away from the Rhur valley, Werl was founded at the end of the IX Century
when the Counts of Westphalia moved their quarters to the “Hellweg” on the territory of the Count of Werl.

From then on, peasants, tradesmen and merchants came to live near the new fortifications. History shows accounts of
salt extraction in Werl as far back as the 10th Century. To this day a “Council of the Heirs of Saline Rights” still exists in Werl,
despite the fact that the mines have not yielded any salt in over 50 years. A few “Master” mansions, as well as the “Kurpack”
remind us of the magnificence of that past era.

Werl also very well knew as a pilgrimage town. Each year, not less than 30.000 pilgrims come to town to visit the miraculous
Image of Our Lady of Werl. The city is located on a complex crossroads of rail and highways, and is often called “
The Door to Sauerland”

The Mohnesse is the best known of the local lakes and a renowned tourist attraction.
In 1933 the German Authorities decided to set up an airfield North of the city. During the spring of 1936, the squadron
“Horst Wessel” of the Luftwaffe took possession of the new airfield. On the 10th of May 1940, gliders took off from this
location to attack the forts defending the Albert Canal in Belgium. The local population was very afraid about becoming
the target of allied bombing. On the 19th of April 1944, it happened. Two hundred people trying to flee the city lost their
lives that day.

On April 7th, 1945 the US Army occupied the airfield North of the city. This ended the story of the airfield, until the
17th Squadron reopened it on the 19th of June 1956.


Translation: Michel Franckart

Picture from the airfield after bombing
april 20 1944 at 06.10 a.m.

The airfield at this time