Bruce Barrymore Halpenny and Lancaster
The Airfields of "Bomber County"
By Bruce Barrymore Halpenny
Lincolnshire, along with Yorkshire – as well as Norfolk and Suffolk that housed the Americans - was bomber country during the Second World War and bore the brunt of the airborne offensive against the Third Reich.
During the war RAF Bomber Command lost over 55,000 brave and gallant airmen. The Americans also had very high losses, for they only did daylight raids.
Bruce Barrymore Halpenny
Bruce Barrymore Halpenny served in the RAF Military Police - RAFPD - Provost on Special Security Duties (Nuclear & Chemical Weapons) and is a leading military historian and authority on airfield histories.
He has written for publications around the world and is the author of several books, especially concerning the RAF and airfields.
There is so much more to the histories of these airfields than people realise; and sadly, too many dismiss them as being, "just an old airfield". To research and preserve the histories of these airfields like I have done is to help preserve a national treasure, and in so doing, I have managed to unlock many of their secrets.
During the war years in Lincolnshire whichever direction you travelled in, you were sure that within a few miles you would come across an airfield. An airfield that was home to thousands of men and women, fighting a daily fight against an enemy, so as to protect our freedom.
There is much to find out - you may know that the famous "Dams" raid was launched from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, but did you know that both Douglas Bader and Guy Gibson once flew from RAF Digby or that Leonard Cheshire won his Victoria Cross while at RAF Woodhall Spa?
Lancaster bombers in Lincolnshire
And having mentioned the Americans, did you know that the film star Clarke Gable was in Lincolnshire? Did you also know – denied by MoD – that Americans flew in RAF Bomber Command from Lincolnshire? Or that the first American 'Eagle' squadron was based at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey.
Today, only a few of these wartime airfields remain, the others have been sadly bulldozed away or left to die and the buildings being now nothing more than heaps of rubble. But have they died? Or have they become part of Lincolnshire's phantom population?
The stories of our airfields in 'Bomber County'
Many are the stories of heroism, courage, tragedy, humour, determination and success, which emerge from the histories of the airfields of this fine historic region.
"Y"- Yeoman and crew
Hundreds of Lancasters, Halifaxes, Wellingtons, Sterlings, and other bombers based in this area took part in all the major raids. There are many famous names and squadrons that have operated from Lincolnshire.
A large part of the airborne armada for D-Day trained and took off from Lincolnshire fields, and many of the counties post-war stations maintained their bomber role with English Electric Canberras and V-bombers, which naturally included the most famous V-bomber of them all, the Avro Vulcan.
Coleby Grange's derelict Control Tower
It is with great pride and justification that Lincolnshire is known as, and can always be called, "Bomber County". Look again at the old wartime airfields in Lincolnshire as you drive past - this time with pride.
All pictures are copyright Bruce Barrymore Halpenny.
last updated: 17/06/2009 at 13:03