North Witham Airfield History

RAF North Witham Airfield
(Map edited to show runways)
Bomber Command Crest
© Crown Copyright/MOD 2010
Airfield Code: NWUSAAF Station: 479Google Earth Co-ordinates:
52°47'35"N  00°35'53"W
06/24 & 13/30 4200ft x 150ft - 02/20 6000ft x 150ft
Station History

The remains of North Witham airfield can be seen within Twyford Forest, to the east of the A1 and the south of the A151, Colsterworth being the nearest village to the north-west. The airfield was built to the standard bomber pattern with three concrete runways and two T2 hangars, one on the technical site to the south-east of the airfield and the other off the north-west perimeter track. The communal and accommodation sites were dispersed to the south, around Honey Pot Lane and the bomb stores were located to the north-east of the airfield.

North Witham was allocated to the US Ninth Air Force and opened in the autumn of 1943 as Station 479 specifically, the IX Troop Carrier Command (TCC). The US 1st Tactical Air Depot (TAD), a major transport aircraft distribution and maintained C-47s and C-53s of the IX TCC. This also included Horsa and Hadrian assault gliders. During 1944, two Mobile Repair and Reclamation Squadrons (MRSS), 44th MRSS and the 27th MRSS, were also based at the airfield.

In March 1944, IX TCC Pathfinder School (PFS) arrived at the airfield from RAF Cottesmore, Rutland. The C-47s of the school were equipped with Gee navigational equipment and radar allowing them to drop accurately pathfinder paratroopers. The advance party would then set up visual aids and a device called Eureka. This ground based radar device could pick up the following C-47s in the main force. These were equipped with Rebecca receivers which picked up the Eureka signal, thereby accurately guiding the main body of airborne troops to the drop zone. It was C-47s operating from North Witham which led the invasion forces on D-Day, twenty aircraft being dispatched, one of which failed to return having been shot down. The PFS moved to Chalgrove, Oxfordshire between 10-14th September 1944, although C-47 maintenance continued at North Witham on a reducing scale. When the airfield was handed back to the RAF in early 1945, it was briefly placed on Care and Maintenance but by 1st June, it had been allocated to 40 (Maintenance) Group, for aircraft and ordnance storage.

Most of the runways and perimeter track still exists today, although parts are reduced in length and width and together with the bomb stores, surrounded by trees. The watch office still stands in a derelict state. The T2 hangar on the technical site is still in use by Witham Specialist Vehicles Ltd, for resale of former military vehicles.

Aircraft and Squadrons
December 1943Station opens and is transferred to the USAAF.
December 19439th AFTC USAAFOperating the Douglas C-47 & C-53 Skytrain. Left North Witham in June 1945.
May 1945Station closed and transferred back to the RAF. Also placed on care and maintenance.
May 1945No.100 MUThe Maintenance Unit was renumbered No.93 MU in December 1948.
July 1945No.259 MUThe Maintenance Unit left North Witham in August 1948.
October 1945Station re-opens.
October 1945No.4 RAF RegtThe RAF Regiment left North Witham in June 1946.
June 1946No.16 MUThe Maintenance Unit left North Witham in 1950.
December 1948Station closed and placed on care and maintenance.
December 1948No.93 MUThe Maintenance Unit left North Witham in April 1956.
1956RAF North Witham closed.
1960RAF North Witham sold off.