US Army Air Force Station No 481
Opened: Sep 1941
Squadrons based here:
207 Sqn :: Nov 1941 - Sep 1942
90 Sqn :: ?Oct - Dec 1942
50th Troop Carrier Wing 9th USAAF :: 18 Nov 1943 -
436 Troop Carrier Gp USAAF :: Jan 1944 - Mar 1944
440th Troop Carrier Gp USAAF :: 11 Mar 1944 - Apr 1944
1668 HCU :: 28 Jul 1944 -
207 Conversion Flight :: 1 Jan 1942
(formed) - 23 Aug 1942
256 MU :: 18 Sep 1945 (parented by Barkston Heath)
Airfield code :: BT > AQ
ICAO Code ::
Airfield call sign :: RINGOUT, FLOWERBED (1 Nov 1943)
Bottesford airfield was constructed by George Wimpey & Co with ground broken in Nov 1940. It was one of the first in the region to be built with concrete runways from the outset. The main runway was built to 1700 yards but extended to 1933 yardsprior to the airfield being completed. In addition, 36 pan hardstandings were built. Five dispersals were lost when the hangars were erected. The main technical site was situated on the northeast side and dispersed domestic sites in fields towards the A1 trunk road. A Type T2 hangar was located on the technical site and another on the south-west corner of the airfield. A B1 hanger was later added for Ministry of Aircraft Production engineers was with an access strip to the perimeter track. The dispersed sites included 11 domestic, two communal and a sick quarters accommodating a maximum complement of 2373 male and 462 female staff and lay to the north of the airfield.
Bottesford site straddles Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire county boundaries.
RAF Bottesford became became operational in Nov 1941 under 5 Group with the arrival of 207 Sqn from Waddington. 207 re-equipped to the Lancaster and moved to RAF Langar in nearby Sep 1942 while Bottesford was further extended. In Nov 1942, 90 Sqn was re-formed at Bottesford to fly Stirling and departed the following month. 467 Sqn RAAF arrived the same month and began operations on 2/3 Jan 1943. In relocated to RAF Waddington in Nov 1943 as Bottesford had been allocated to the USAAF's IX Troop Carrier Command for forthcoming operations in Europe.
The USAAF presence arrived in Nov 1943 from RAF Cottesmore. 436th Troop Carrier Group arrived in Jan 1944. Bottesford was one of the cluster of 12 airfields around Grantham that were allocated for US Troop Carrier Command use in August 1943. 50th Troop Carrier Wing Headquarters on arrived on 15 Nov 1943. It was then opened as a reception base for Douglas C-47/C-53 Skytrain groups that were scheduled to fly in from the United States. It was known as USAAF Station AAF-481 and given USAAF Station Code AQ. In advance preparation for the cross-channel assault, two further T2 hangars were erected in 1943 to protect Horsa gliders. Bottesford hosted over 50 of these wood and canvas craft. 56 C-47 Dakota aircraft of the 436th Troop Carrier Group arrived in January 1944 and moved on in March to be replaced by the 440th TCG, which followed south in April for Op OVERLORD. Bottesford was then used for glider repair and modification.
Bottesford reverted to 5 Group Bomber Command in July 1944 from the USAAF, 1668 HCU arriving with Lancaster. Some specialist flights joined later with a variety of aircraft types. In Nov 1944 1668 HCU was re-assigned to No 7 Training Group and Bottesford remained a Lancaster training station until the late summer of 1945. March 1945 saw Bottesford as the victim of the final German air raid on the UK, with a Lancaster and some crockery in the mess suffering damage. On 17 Sep 45 1668 HCU moved to Cottesmore with flying almost ceasing at Bottesford. Hangars were used for storage by the Air Ministry and Bottesford became a sub-site of 256 Maintenance Unit based at Barkston Heath, responsible for the storage and disposal of surplus equipment. Although held at limited readiness until 1948 the airfield was returned to agricultural use by 1948.
Although RAF Bottesford officially closed in 1948 its hardstandings continued to served as a store for some of the millions of tonnes of wartime ammunition stockpiles awaiting disposal. Hundreds of bombs were stacked along the runways, behind the B1 hangar across the Normanton road and on the grass verges beside it. When the bomb dump was finally cleared in the 1960s the pyrotechnics remaining gave local children a firework display they would remember for years to come.
Mr John Rose who operated a warehousing company in the hangars from 1954 subsequently purchased most of the airfield in 1962. The Roseland Group Ltd continues to operate from the site and uses the restored control tower as the company's office. The Roseland Group, which owns the site, have restored the Control Tower for office use. RAF Bottesford is now called Normanton Airfield.
The technical site buildings are operated as an industrial facility
known as Roseland Business Park, with tenants including Gardner Douglas
Sports Cars manufacturing, Babcock,
concrete manufacture and forestry services. are stored on the former
a small amount of concrete (mostly dispersal loops) being removed for
RAF Bomber Command operational losses sustained by the units based at Bottesford amounted to three Manchesters and 55 Lancasters, a total of 58.
There is a memorial to 207 Sqn in the church of St Mary the Virgin, Bottesford.
The Viking Way long-distance footpath passes 1 km to the east of the former domestic site at Bottesford.
View photographs of modern-day Bottesford in the photo section.
Dr Vincent Holyoak wrote a history of RAF Bottesford in 1995 which drew heavily on the oral history of service personnel at the airfield. Although the 140+ page book is no longer in print, it is available to read online in its entirety on the Bottesford Living History site.
RAF Bottesford page on Royal Air Force website
> USAAF Station Numbers
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