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  RAF Anwick

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Updated: 5 Dec 12

Opened: RFC Aerodrome Anwick in Sep 1916

Closed: Jun 1919

Re-opened: as Q-site decoy airfield for RAF Digby in 1939

Closed: Aug 1942

Airfield code:

Squadrons using here:

38 Sqn RFC :: Sep 1916 - May 1918

33 Sqn RFC :: Sep 1916 -

90 Sqn RAF :: >14 Aug 1918 - Jun 1919

Anwick was an active airfield during the Great War only, from 1916. As well as accommodating 38 Sqn RFC it acted as an emergency landing strip for the Home Defence Squadrons which were tackling the Zeppelin threat on the approaches to the Midlands. The airfield which had three grassed runways laid out in an equilateral triangle, was centered 1 kilometre NNW of Awnwick village church (TF110515). A telegraph wire was run from Ruskington village to the airfield.

38 Sqn RFC, based at Melton Mowbray, was responsible for Anwick between Sep 1916 and May 1918. Equipped with FE2b aircraft it was commanded by Arthur Harris, later 'Bomber Harris' in World War II. The squadron redeployed to Dunkirk in May 1918. Elements of 90 Sqn, headquartered at RAF Buckminster, were subsequently located here in its Aug 1918 - Jun 1919 reformation.

In Action Stations it is reported that the aerodrome remained busy throughout the Great War as a flying training establishment with a large number of aircraft present, flying mostly a motley assortment of de Havilland DH and Royal Aircraft Factory BE and FE models although no other references have yet been uncovered during research for the website.

The landing ground did not support any permanent buildings but covered an area of 54 acres. Even at the height of activity, the airfield had only grass runways and no permanent brick buildings or hangars. All accommodation was of wooden and metal temporary construction. Night lighting was provided by petrol-soaked rags in cans, categorised as basic lighting.

According to Bomber County, Squadrons based at Anwick airfield received pilots and navigators who had been trained by 33 Sqn RFC.

After closure in Jun 1919 the airfield was placed on care and maintenance rather than being completely abandoned. As the threat of war increased, it was resurveyed in 1937 as a possible expansion fighter airfield, but it was decided that the terrain and location was unsuitable for tarmac runways. This led to Anwick being earmarked as a future decoy airfield, a role that was enacted in Sep 1939.

Second World War Airfield decoyed: RAF Digby

English Heritage Site Reference: Q21A

Approximate location of site centre: BNG TF111514 (Streetmap)

Pastscape record: 1464370

The Ruskington Q site was a Second World War night-time bombing decoy that was built to deflect enemy bombing from RAF Digby. This Q-type decoy displayed a series of lights simulating an active airfield. It was in use from 1939 and was abandoned by Aug 1942, referenced as in use in 1941. By the 1970s the site had been given over to agricultural use and no features of the decoy survive on site. A further Q site for RAF Digby was located at Dorrington.

Q-sites operated at night and tried to lure the enemy with sets of lights arranged to look like a real operational airfield, set out over up to a mile and a half of countryside. Q sites night-time staff would check lighting before dusk and await nightfall in a shelter.

The site was known as the Ruskington Q-site due to its equal proximity to that village. During decoy ops, 8 airmen worked in shifts from a cramped dugout with an electric generator to light the flarepath. A mobile flashing beacon was also driven out by truck from Digby to complete the deception. See further reading on dummy and decoy sites.

Anwick lives on in the Old Manor Farm strip at Anwick Garden Centre. There is a single grass strip and one hangar.

N 53°03' W 00°21'

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