View Full Version : Former RAF Coleby Grange

Grob Driver
12th Jan 2003, 11:06

Does anyone out there know anything out the former RAF Coleby Grange (wartime airfield 5mile South of Lincoln)? I know a bit of basic information about the place (opened 1940 – 45 and then again from 1959-63), but can anyone tell me any more? Does anyone know where I can get a plan of the airfield, and maybe a photograph or two?! Were any aircraft permanently stationed there, or was it purely a relief landing ground for Cranwel? Hope some of you might be able to help.


Grob Driver

12th Jan 2003, 12:21
It opened in early 1940 as a relief landing ground for Cranwell. In May it became a satellite for Kirton-in-Lindsey pending completion of Hibaldstow, and was very briefly occupied by two sections of Hurricanes from 235 Sqn at Kirton before Defiants from 264 Sqn, also from Kirton, spent a few weeks there. In September 1940 Coleby Grange became one of two satellites (Wellingore was the other) for nearby RAF Digby as part of 12 Group. In May 1941 it hosted Hurricanes from 402 (Canadian) Sqn. Another Canadian unit, 409 Sqn 'Nighthawks' replaced 402 in July, flying Defiants and later Beaufighters. Their first CO was killed in a Beaufighter accident there, and his replacement, W/Cdr P Y Davoud, scored 409's first kill on 1 November 1941. 409 remained at Coleby until February 1943 when 410 Sqn arrived from Acklington with Mosquito night fighters. Thereafter Coleby hosted a succession of night fighter squadrons. The last operational unit there was 307 (Polish) Sqn, with Mosquitos. Operations ceased on 6 May 1945, but by then the station had become a satellite for 17 FTS at Cranwell and still hosted two flights of that unit's aircraft, 1515 BAT Flight with Oxfords and 107 Elementary Gliding School. Apart from the gliders, which remained until 1947, all other aircraft had departed to Enstone or Spitalgate by November 1946. The station was retained on a care and maintenance basis until 1958, when it was selected as a site for ICBMs, hosting 142 Sqn of 1 Group Bomber Command's Hemswell Missile Wing with three Douglas Thors until May 1963. It was sold and reverted agricultural use in 1964/65. The old watch office is reputed to be haunted. The graves of some of those who served and died at Coleby Grange can be found in the nearby village of Scopwick, which is also the final resting place of John Gillespie Magee, author of the classic aviators' poem 'High Flight'. Magee was serving with 412 (Canadian) Sqn at Wellingore when his Spitfire collided with a Cranwell-based Oxford.

12th Jan 2003, 15:11
Spooky this - we were only talking last night about how the Thors were erected during the Cuban missile crisis and were arguing politely over which site 'between Cranwell and Lincoln' had been the location where a chum had seen them sitting on thier launch pads........... It was obviously Coleby Grange!

Incidentally, an old chap once told me that a Thor had fallen off its pad at Hemswell. That must have been interesting to watch.....from a safe distance, of course! A very safe distance....

Grob Driver
14th Jan 2003, 11:41

Thanks very much for that…. A far more comprehensive reply than I ever imagined!….. Thank you

Grob Driver

14th Jan 2003, 15:41
Yeah, well, I always did have a tendency to over-write! Comes from sometimes being paid by the word...