Wickenby Aerodrome

Aircraft
Airfield
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LancThe history of the airfield goes back to 1941 when the ever increasing demand for heavy bomber airfields in Lincolnshire meant that large rural areas had to be found to build on. One morning in 1941 farm owner Mr Bowser was told by surveyors that his land was suitable and by 3pm that same day contractors McAlpine began to clear the site.

The airfield followed the standard Bomber Command layout, having three concrete runways and a perimeter track. The main runway 09/27 ran east/west along the southern side with the other two runways 03/21 & 16/34, crossing towards the north of the site with thirty six aircraft dispersals around the perimeter track. Two hangars of the steel T2 type were erected one to the north of the airfield and one to the south of the main runway, a third hangar of the B1 type was built later in 1943 and this was located at the north end of the technical and domestic site which was situated on the eastern side extending towards the village of Holton cum Beckering. The bomb storage area was constructed in a slight depression at the south west corner of the airfield. Building was completed in September 1942 and the airfield came under the control of No 1 Group Bomber Command and initially opened as a satellite station to RAF Binbrook. Later in December 1943 RAF Wickenby became No 14 Base substation to RAF Ludford Magna. Unlike most other RAF Stations, RAF Wickenby never had its own Station Badge.

During September 1942 under the Station Commander W/Cdr Dabinett, 12 Squadron moved to RAF Wickenby from their base at RAF Binbrook, bringing with them their Wellington Bombers in which they flew a number of missions. In November 1943, 12 Squadron became the second Squadron in 1 Group to be equiped with the AVRO Lancaster and on 12 January 1942 they were able to put nine Lancasters in the air as part of a force of 72 medium and heavy bombers which attacked an oil refinery in Essen.

On 7 November 1943 626 Squadron was formed by the expansion of 12 Squadron's C Flight. To accommodate the extra personnel generated by the formation of the new Squadron, a new dispersed site was built to the south of the airfield. This site would accommodate both air and ground crew and it covered a large area between the villages of Fulnetby and Rand.

The two Squadrons took part in many major raids on enemy targets such as Mailey le Camp, Nuremburg and also Bomber Commands last main operation of the war on 25 April 1945 when 14 Lancasters from Wickenby were part of the force which attacked the SS Barracks in Berchtesgaden. Following this final mission the two Squadrons took part in Operations Manna & Exodus when they dropped food to the Dutch and helped with the repatriation of POWs.

Wickenby suffered its last losses on 12 April 1945 when three of their aircraft failed to return from an attack on an oil refinery in the Luzendorf area of Germany, the total number of air crew lost from Wickenby during the conflict was 1125.

In September 1945 12 Squadron moved to Binbrook and in October 1945 626 Squadron was disbanded. For a few weeks following the departure of the Lancasters 109 Squadron Mosquitos moved in but they left in November 1945 when all flying ceased.

The next occupant, No 93 Maintenance Unit, collected ordnance from other disused airfields and stored it on the runways awaiting disposal. They remained until 1952 when 92 MU took over, staying until 1956.

During 1964-66 the airfield was cleared, and where possible returned to agricultural use. At the same time the road from Snelland to Holton-cum-Beckering, which had been closed to construct the airfield, was reopened.

In the mid 1960s, private flying started on the Northern part of the airfield.

Information courtesy of Wickenby Museum & Archive.


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