First opened as an air base in World War I, RAF Yatesbury continued operations in the interwar years before again taking on a major role in World War 2. From 1936 onwards, RAF Yatesbury and RAF Compton Bassett were major Radio and Radar Training Schools, RAF Townsend a satellite landing ground and RAF Cherhill was 27 Group Headquarters Technical Training Command. In the village church there are reminders of its millitary past, with a small number of war graves from both major conflicts.
After closure, the Radar and Wireless training school transferred to RAF Locking. The aircraft hangars and air strip, although now farmland, can still be seen from the A4. The buildings, site and surrounding area were featured in the video to the 1988 No.1 hit song "Doctorin' the Tardis" by The Timelords. The airfield is presently subject to a planning application to be restored and converted to [residential apartments.
Famous former residents include singer/songwriter/author Julian Cope, who lived in the village until 2006. and he has referenced the town in the song 'My wall' in which he collaborated with the american drone metal band Sunn 0)))