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[RAF Elsham Wolds] [Other Local Airfields] [RAF Waddington Pt 1]

RAF Waddington Lincolnshire - Part 1 - Up to WW2

RAF Waddington early 1930s 1

RAF Waddington early 1930s 2

Situated 5 miles south of Lincoln  on the Lincolnshire Heights between the A607 Grantham Road and A15 Sleaford Road Waddington airfield aerodrome is well sited on the Lincolnshire Heights which was an ideal location. The station opened in November 1916 as a flying training station with 47 Reserve Squadron under the control of Northern Group Command at York. During further re-organisation it was redesignated 48 Training Depot Station. On 1 December 1917 97 Squadron, RFC, formed here as a training unit but in January 1918 moved to Stonehenge, Wiltshire

A number of other Squadrons passed through Waddington during or just after WW1.

The most prominent of these was 82 Squadron from March 1917 to November 1917 flying the Armstrong Whitworth FK8 who were then transferred to the Western Front for operational duties

The others were :-

105 Squadron formed September 1917 to October 1917 flying the RE8 transferred to Andover Hampshire and were eventually deployed to Ireland

117 Squadron formed January 1918 to April 1918 flying the DH9 transferred to Wyton and were eventually deployed to Ireland

123 Squadron formed February 1918 to March 1918 flying the DH9 and transferred to Duxford Cambridgeshire and was never deployed being disbanded in August 1918.

23 Squadron - March 1919 to December 1919 - disbanded.

203 Squadron - March 1919 to December 1919 - transferred to RAF Scopwick

204 Squadron - February 1919 to December 1919 - disbanded

The aircraft operated at the airfield up to the end of WW1 were a mixture of Maurice Farman Shorthorns, DH4s, DH6s, DH9s, RE8s, ArmstrongWhitworth FK8s and Avro 504s.

Avro 504 IA

Avro 504 IA




The airfield closed in 1919 however Waddington was one of the few WW1 stations to retain its buildings and airfield during the rundown immediately after WW1. As a result of decisions to    expand the RAF in the mid 20s Waddington reopened in October 1926 as the base of the newly formed 503 (Bombing) Squadron.

This was a cadre unit of the Special Reserve and remained so until 1st May 1936 when it was converted to an Auxiliary squadron. During this time the unit was equipped with Fairey Fawn light bombers under the command of S/L Robert Oxland. The squadron was later re-designated No 503 (County of Lincoln) Squadron.

Fairey Fawn and hangar

Fairey Fawn

In 1929 the squadron was re-equipped with Handley Page Hyderabad which were later replaced by the more structurally sound Handley Page Hinaidi and changed its role to that of night bomber unit until 1935 when it again reverted to a day bomber squadron equipped with the Westland Wallace.

Handley Page Hyderabad Waddington

Handley Page Hyderabad

Handley Page Hinaidi

Handley Page Hinaidi

Westland Wallace K5082

Westland Wallace

During the mid 1930s an RAF expansion programme was started with additional hangars and ancilliary buildings constructed at Waddington.

On 18 May 1937 110 (B) Squadron reformed at Waddington as a bomber unit flying Hawker Hinds.

On 3 May 1937 50 (B) Squadron was also reformed with Hinds.

On the 7 June 1937 88 (B) Squadron reformed as a bomber squadron from a nucleus of personnel from 110 (B) Squadron also equipped with Hinds.

Hawker Hind Waddington

Hawker Hind

In June 1937 44 Squadron arrived at the station having been reformed at RAF Wyton in March, while in July 88 Squadron moved to Boscombe Down, Wiltshire. Bomber Command was now rapidly expanding and 44 Squadron in December became the first Waddington squadron to receive Blenheim Is.

In October 1938 503 Squadron moved to Doncaster where it disbanded and reformed as 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron. 616 Squadron was formed on 1 November 1938 at RAF Doncaster and was at first allotted the bomber role receiving Hawker Hinds for that role. This soon changed as 616 Squadron converted to a fighter unit with the Gloster Gauntlet biplane fighters acquired in January 1939. During WW2 616 performed with great distinction throughout

Gloster Gauntlet 616

Gloster Gauntlet

Meanwhile back at Waddington 110 Squadron re-equipped with Bristol Blenheims and in May 1939 moved to RAF Wattisham, Suffolk.

Bristol Blenehim I 110 Squadron

Bristol Blenehim I 110 Squadron

By the outbreak of war both 44 and 50 Squadrons were re-equipped with Handley Page Hampdens and readied for operations. Almost immediately, at 18.35 hours on September 3 1939, nine Hampdens of 44 Squadron took off for a reconnaissance looking for German warships in the  Heligoland Roads.

Handley Page Hampden 44 Squadron

Handley Page Hampden 44 Squadron

Waddington WW2 and Post War to follow.

Compiled by David Fell with photos from my archive TTE and WWP


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