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

RAF Skellingthorpe – Lincolnshire

Skellingthorpe combined

Above - Skellingthorpe satellite image as of recent times and below the location as shown on a 1950s OS map showing the layout of the runways. The site of the airfield has almost all been redeveloped over the years and disappeared under the extensive Birchwood housing estate. Prominent on these maps are Skellingthorpe vllage top left

This was an unusual site for an airfield situated in an area of gravel pits and woods just outside the boundary of the City of Lincoln. It has been suggested that this airfield came into being because 2 Hampdens crash landed in the fields and the only way to get them out was to repair them and set out a grass runway across the fields to fly them out. Having achieved this successfully the site was then extended and used for the remainder of the war.

However being true or not construction work started in 1941 and much of the hutted accommodation was dispersed in the woods particularly on the east side which was opened in October 1941 as a satellite to Swinderby in 5 Gp Bomber Command.

At that time the facilities were very primitive and surrounded on 3 sides by heavy woods.

The first users were a detachment of 50 Squadron which arrived in October from Swinderby while the runways were being built. The remainder of the unit moved in the following month with their Hampdens.

Handley Page Hampden postcard

Handley Page Hampden

The Squadron converted to Manchesters in April 1942.

Avro Manchester postcard

Avro Manchester

On 30/31 May 1942 in an attack on Cologne F/O Leslie Manser of 50 Squadron was awarded a posthumous VC

Leslie Manser

Leslie Manser

In June 1942 50 Squadron returned to Swinderby so hard runways could be laid at the airfield. They were of a standard wartime pattern linked by a perimeter track with hard standings. Because the runway came right up to the B1190 road this had to be closed when the bombers took off.

By September 1942 the runways were laid and the airfield operational again. At the end of the month 2 conversion flights arrived. 97 and 106 Squadrons also arrived  but moved to Swinderby three weeks later.

50 Squadron who had converted to Lancasters returned to Skellingthorpe and remained there till the end of WW2.

Avro Lancaster 50 Squadron

Avro Lancaster 50 Squadron

 They were joined by 61 Squadron in November 1943 which also remained at the airfield till the end of WW2 apart from a couple of months in the spring of 1944 when it was temporarily based at Coningsby.

Avro Lancaster 60 Squadron

Avro Lancaster 60 Squadron

Both Squadrons participated with great distinction during all the Bomber Command campaigns during this period and sustained very heavy losses throughout.

In April 1945 61 Squadron moved to Sturgate and in June 619 Squadron arrived from Strubby to be disbanded the following month.

That same month 463 Squadron arrived from Waddington as part of the Tiger Force to participate in the war in the Far East.

The Squadron was informed in May that it would not be needed but continued to train until the 14 September when all flying was cancelled. On the 25 September 463 was disbanded.

By early 1946 only a few airfields remained open for flying but for some reason Skellingthorpe was one and used as a relief landing ground by Swinderby HCU and remained open for that purpose until about 1952 when the airfield was then closed. The station was also used from 1946 by 58 MU who salvaged crashed aircraft and also used the site for storage purposes.

Post war boundary alterations brought the site of the airfield into the City of Lincoln and there was some consideration of the possibility of developing it into a municipal airport however this was not proceeded with. The airfield was then completely demolished and the site has now been redeveloped into the large Birchwood housing estate

There are 2 memorials dedicated to the Squadrons that served at the airfield. One on the site of the airfield in Birchwood and another in the nearby village of Skellingthorpe

Skellingthorpe Memorial

Skellingthorpe Memorial

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



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Bomber Command interest are the

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