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[RAF Elsham Wolds] [Other Local Airfields] [RNAS Skegness]

RNAS Skegness – Lincolnshire

This airfield was very short lived established briefly at the start of WW1 to undertake coastal reconnaissance  around this part of the east coast and anti Zeppelin patrols. The airfield was situated on open farmland south of the A58 road and west of the A52 road now built over with housing

The RNAS at RFC Eastchurch in Kent designated the Eastchurch (Mobile) Squadron for this deployment under the command of Wing Commander Charles Rumney Samson ( see below ). It is not clear the aircraft involved . Likely to be BE2s, Sopwith Tabloids and/or Maurice Farman Shorthorns. Unfortunately  Samson was obliged to make a forced landing at Long Sutton, Lincolnshire on the way. The reason for this is not known but he was delayed there for two days before setting off to complete his journey to the landing ground that had been selected just off Burgh Road on the outskirts of the resort.

On on arrival at Skegness he made a bad landing, collapsing his undercarriage and dragging the lower starboard wing along the ground. The machine was soon repaired and joined in making coastal patrols to guard against possible attacks on England’s east coast but on Monday 24 August Samson was ordered back to Eastchurch as it was decided he and his unit would be far more use deploying across the Channel to France and Belgium to undertake patrols from Ostend. At the same time the Skegness aerodrome was vacated, and the remaining aircraft moved to Killingholme where a naval aerodrome had been established on the banks of the River Humber, close to the Admiralty’s recently opened oil storage depot.

BE2 early vintage

BE2 early vintage

Sopwith Tabloid

Sopwith Tabloid

Samson BE2 Long Sutton

Samson BE2 Long Sutton

Samson BE2 Skegness

Samson BE2 Skegness

The airfield was then abandoned and saw no further permanent military use although it may have been used as a relief landing ground in WW1 and may also have been used for private flying interwar.

The site of the airfield is now completely built over and nothing remains.


Air Commodore Charles Rumney Samson CMG DSO and bar AFC

Samson CR Dardenelles

Charles Samson ( pictured above ) was a remarkable pioneer and innovator of military and naval aviation development with a number of important firsts to his credit.

Born in Manchester in 1883 he joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1899. Postings and promotions followed in quick succession and by 1910 he was First Lieutenant on HMS Foresight.

At this point he was one of four Royal Navy Officers chosen for flying training which took place at RFC Eastchurch in Kent

Pre WW1 he carried out the first take off from a ship at anchor in the UK and also the first take off from a moving ship, HMS Hibernia, in a Short Sommer pusher biplane. He was also involved in the development of bomb sights and other equipment as well as conducting early night landing trials without lights.

At the start of WW1 he pioneered the use of armoured cars to attack German lines of communication and in September 1914 his cars and aircraft occupied Lille

Samson carried out the first night bombing mission in history on the12 December 1914 in a Maurice Farman.

In March 1915 he was OC No 3 Wing RNAS during the Gallipoli Campaign in which he was particularly active and pioneered the use of radio communication with RN surface ships off shore observing and correcting the fall of shot during bombardment of Turkish positions on shore

By April 1916 he was OC HMS Ben Me Chree stationed in the Red Sea bombing Turkish guns facing Perim and flying in support of the Arabs in their assault on Jeddah against the Turks.

In May 1916 he was OC East Indies and Egypt RNAS Seaplane Squadron

In January 1917 he was posted to the Seaplane depot at Port Suez and in June 1917 Staff Air Department Alexandria

Another posting followed in October 1917 as OC RNAS Great Yarmouth until the end of the War, Samson was in command of an aircraft group at Great Yarmouth responsible for anti-submarine and anti-Zeppelin operations over the North Sea. During which time his group shot down five Zeppelins. In order to bring fighter aircraft into action near the enemy coasts he developed with John Cyril Porte an adapted seaplane lighter which could be towed behind naval vessels and used as a take-off platform by fighter aircraft. This system led to the destruction of Zeppelin L53.

In October 1918 the group became 73 Wing of the new No. 4 Group based at the Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe as part of the Royal Air Force. Samson became commanding officer of this group.

Post war he was awarded a permanent commission as a Lt Col and in September 1919 appointed G/C Air Chief Staff Officer HQ Coastal Area.

In January 1920 he was removed from the RN Lists on being awarded a Permanent Commission in the RAF

He subsequently was posted back to the Middle East in 1926 and led two record breaking flights, Cairo to Aden in September 1926 and Cairo to Cape Town in 1927. These routes were later used by Imperial Airways and other airlines.

However his health failed and he died in 1931 at the relatively young age of 47. Possibly due to a combination of the rigours and strain of such a demanding service career and also personal family issues.

Samson was one of the great early pioneers of British military and naval aviation and tactics and left a considerable lasting legacy.

Compiled by David Fell with pictures from my archive and Cross and Cockade


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