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[RAF Elsham Wolds] [RAF Goxhill]

RAF Goxhill – North Lincolnshire.

Goxhill Memorial

Above is a photo I took of the Goxhill Airfield Memorial on Horsegate Field Road, Goxhill in 2017.

Goxhill was the most northerly of the Lincolnshire airfields on the south bank of the Humber. During WW1 there was a RFC landing ground just east of the village. At the start of WW2 a barrage balloon unit was situated on that site.

The new airfield was planned and built early in WW2 as a bomber station. It was never operational but had a decoy site at Burnham a few miles to the west. The airfield was built just west of the village of Goxhill and was bounded by the railway to the south and Skitter Beck to the east. The airfield was of standard bomber station pattern with three concrete runways, the main one on an axis north-east, south-west. The technical site, two T2 and one J type hangars were on the west side of the airfield close to the minor road. The control tower was situated just forward of the hangars. RAF Goxhill opened on the 26th June 1941 as a bomber station in No 1 Group Bomber Command but received no bomber squadrons.

Goxhill 1940 when under construction

Aerial view of RAF Goxhill under construction in 1940/41

On the 18th September 1941 No 1 Group Towed Target Flight formed at Goxhill with of 9 Westland Lysanders, the first two arriving on the 25th October. This role was short lived and in December 1941 RAF Goxhill was transferred to No 12 Group Fighter Command. It became a fighter station in the Kirton-in-Lindsey Sector and was used by Spitfires of No 616 Squadron from that station during January 1942. No 15 (P) AFU from nearby Kirmington then used the airfield from the 15th May to the 4th June 1942.

In June 1942 RAF Goxhill was taken over by the USAAF VIIIth Air Force and the airfield was now known as Station 345. The role of the airfield was to receive newly arrived Fighter Groups from the USA which trained there to acclimatise themselves to English weather and operational techniques.

The first Americans to arrive were the USAAF 1st FG in June 1942 with P-38 Lightning aircraft. The Group comprised of three squadrons, the 27th, 71st and 94th, but only the 71st was based at Goxhill. They remained until the 24th August 1942 when they then moved to Ibsley but the following day the 52nd FG moved in and made Goxhill their home until the following October. They were equipped with Spitfires and these made an unusual sight in their American markings.

On the 8th October 98 Squadron of the 81st FG arrived and HQ Flight came to Goxhill with their P-39 Airacobras. This unit moved out on the 15th November 1942.

For the Americans, Goxhill, which they named 'Goat Hill', must have been a very bleak posting and those arriving in the winter of 1942/43 with the cold easterly winds must have received a poor impression of England. These were the 78th FG which arrived in December with its component squadrons, 82nd, 83rd and 84th. The 78th received its P-38 Lightnings at the end of the month and began a training programme.

The Americans quickly settled in the area and proved very popular with the locals. Being Christmas they held several parties for the local children. By the end of February the Group had re-equipped with P-47s for all P-38s and most of their crews were transferred to North Africa. The pilots preferred the P-38 Lightning. On the 1st April 1943 the 78th Fighter Group began to move to Duxford, its permanent wartime base, and by the 3rd they had all left.

The next to arrive was the 353rd FG with its three squadrons, the 350th, 351st and 352nd on the 7th June. This unit was equipped with P-47s but they did not arrive until July. Meanwhile, the Group had a great welcome from the Luftwaffe who announced on the German radio programme 'Axis Sally' that they would pay the Group a visit. On their second night at Goxhill the Germans came in low over the sea and attacked the airfield.

On the 3rd August the 353rd FG moved to Metfield. During the latter part of 1943 Goxhill saw two more fighter groups, both equipped with P-47D Thunderbolts. These were the 356th FG that arrived on August 27 and moved to Martlesham Heath on the 5th October and the 358th FG that arrived on the 21st October and departed on the 29th November.

By the end of the year the build-up was complete and in December 1943, the 496th Fighter Training Group (FTG) was formed with two squadrons, the 554th specialising in training for the P-38 Lightning and the 555th which flew P-51 Mustangs. The Group CO was Colonel Harry W. Magee and the unit was set up as a Fighter Training Combat Crew Replacement Centre and served both the VIIIth and IXth Air Forces.

At first the unit had many problems one being the poor mechanical condition of the aircraft supplied to the Group which in the main were worn out rejects from front-line squadrons. The training proceeded and by the end of October 1944 there had been 118 accidents, with 53 aircraft lost, 23 pilots killed and seven injured. Six of these fatalities occurred within the area covered by the Crash Page all in the summer of 1944. All these incidents were north of Elsham village and along the River Humber and Humber Estuary.

The 496th FTG left Goxhill during December 1944 and the airfield was then transferred to RAF Fighter Command on the 20th January 1945. Flying then ceased and on the 27th May it transferred to Maintenance Command and until it became inactivated on the 14th December 1953 the site was used for bomb storage by No 233 MU, Market Stainton.

Goxhill 1946 R

Above - Goxhill airfield late summer 1946

On the 29th January 1962 the airfield and technical site buildings were sold to a local farmer who built a bungalow on the site. The three hangars were not included in the sale and were retained by the Ministry of Supply (later the Ministry of the Environment) and used for storage of Green Goddess fire-engines and other items. In 1977 the Ministry of the Environment left the site.

I believe the buildings remaining are now used for storage /wharehousing and were up for sale or rent in 2018. The control tower was dismantled some years ago and re-erected at the Military Aviation Museum at Pungo Virginia, USA.

Goxhill pillbox

This splendid Battle HQ has survived at Goxhill near the Memorial at the crossroads of Horsegate Field Road and Ruard Road. The purpose was to act as an HQ and focal point for defence in the event of invasion and ground attack. I understand it was one of three. See Youtube vid on this Link - Battle HQ Goxhill

Lockheed P38 Lighning

Lockheed P38 Lightning

Replublic P47 Thunderbolt at Goxhill 361st FS 356th_FighterGroup

Republic P47 Thunderbolt pictured at Goxhill with pilot and ground crew.

Goxhill Village.

Goxhill and G oxhill village 1946 R

Above - Goxhill village 1946 with the airfield to the north at the top of the photo

The village has a long history going back to the middle ages and beyond that. It has always been a farming community with a fine church and a selection of Methodist chapels. The railway from Barton to Grimsby opened in the mid 19th C and Goxhill was, and still is, served by a small station.

In modern times the village has grown and is clearly a prosperous little community with some good local amenities. More of a dormitory village these days but it is clearly a thriving community with some character and life about it. The local school is highly thought of.

Item written by David Fell with reference to Action Stations Lincolnshire B B Halpenny. Photos from my own archive.

 

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