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[RAF Elsham Wolds] [Other Local Airfields] [RAF Mertheringham]

RAF Metheringham - Lincolnshire


Mertheringham Airfield – The red triangle indicates the Memorial and the blue arrow the Mertheringham Airfield Visitor Centre. Mertheringham village is situated just out of the pic top left and Martin Village just out of pic bottom right. The outline of the perimeter track is visible  round the old airfield.

Metheringham was situated south east of Lincoln and RAF Waddington between the B1189 and B1191 roads and one of the many Lincolnshire airfields constructed for No 5 Group, Bomber Command, Metheringham was unusual because it was situated in the Lincolnshire Fens and this type of ground was considered to be too unstable to take the weight of concrete runways under a heavy work load. However, work began during the winter of 1942/1943 and by October 1943 yet another bomber station was ready for action. It was built to Class 'A' specifications with three concrete runways, the main being lined almost north-south. The main and the usual two subsidiary runways were all linked by a perimeter track on the western side of which was the control tower. The airfield was bounded to the north and east by Car Dyke, an old Roman Canal. The northern end was wooded with Fox Covert and Blankney Wood and use was made of this natural cover. Martin was the nearest village but for some reason the airfield was named Metheringham after the much larger village two or three miles to the west. The airfield opened in October 1943 and the following month the Lancasters of 106 Squadron arrived from Syerston. This squadron was to be the resident unit and will be the one always to be associated with Metheringham. It had reformed as a bomber squadron in June 1938 at Abingdon, Oxon, and was then equipped with Hawker Hinds. It had come a long way since those early days and had now graduated to the four-engined Lancasters. With these bombers the Squadron carried on the war from Metheringham and attacking targets far and wide in Germany and occupied Europe.

106 Squadron Lancaster W4367 The Saint Mertheringham

106 Squadron Lancaster W4367 The Saint Mertheringham

On 26/27 April 1944 106 Squadron took part in a raid against Schweinfurt. As Lancaster ME669 'O' Orange was leaving the target area it was attacked and hit by a night fighter. A fire broke out on the starboard wing and between the fuselage. Also, the inner engine burst into flames. Sgt Norman Jackson, the flight engineer, opened the escape hatch and climbed out along the top of the fuselage to the starboard wing with a hand fire-extinguisher. As he climbed out his parachute opened and spilled into the cockpit. Undeterred, he carried on while the front crew members gathered it together and let out the rigging lines. But Sgt Jackson slipped and while he hung on to an air-intake on the leading edge of the wing his face and hands were severely burnt. He fell, dragging his parachute behind him, which had caught fire in a number of places. He landed very heavily and sustained a broken ankle. However, he was alive but in a pitiful state, and crawled to the nearest village where he was taken prisoner. He withstood the intense pain and spent ten months in hospital. For his action he was awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery.

106 Squadron Norman Jackson

106 Squadron Norman Jackson

This amazing story did not come out until after the war for, despite Sergeant Jackson's outstanding efforts, the aircraft crashed. F/O Mifflin, the pilot, and Johnson both died in the aircraft while the other crew members, Toft, Higgins, Sandelands and Smith, parachuted out and were taken Prisoner of War. 106 Squadron remained at Metheringham until February 18 1946 when it then disbanded. Squadron personnel had been awarded a total of 267 decorations including the Victoria Cross and had lost 187 aircraft. During 1945 there were two other Lancaster squadrons at Mertheringham. On 15 June 467 Squadron arrived and began training for Far East operations but was disbanded on 30 September 1945. The other was 189 Squadron which arrived during October just 12 months after it had formed, only to be disbanded on 20 November 1945. After 106 Squadron had disbanded on 18 February 1946 the station closed to flying and was vacated by the Royal Air Force shortly afterwards.

Today, the hangars have gone and only a ruin marks the position of a once busy operational tower. One runway and all of the eastern section of the perimeter track have been converted into public roads. Very little remains of this busy wartime bomber airfield. There is a memorial to 106 Squadron by the road at the eastern side of the airfield and the Mertheringham Airfield Visitor Centre to the south is well worth a visit.

Mertheringham Memorial

Mertheringham Memorial

Mertheringham Old south west northeast runway is now a minor road over Blankney Barff and down to the fens

Mertheringham Old south west northeast runway is now a minor road over Blankney Barff and down to the fens

Mertheringham Lane and perimeter track

Mertheringham Lane and perimeter track

Compiled by David Fell. Photos from my own archive, wiki and WWP



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