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  RAF Digby - RCAF Digby
'Icarus renatus' - Icarus reborn

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> RAF Bases

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Alma Park
Anwick
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Barkston Heath
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Blankney Hall
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Boston Wyberton Fen
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Updated: 6 Dec 12

RAF Digby was designated as RAF Scopwick before WWII but was renamed to RAF Digby in 1920 to avoid confusion with RAF Shotwick.

Opened: 28 Mar 1918 - No 59 Training Depot Station RAF

Renamed: Jul 1920 to RAF Digby

Placed in care and maintenance: Apr 1922

Reopened: 1924

Upgraded: 1935/36; 1942 - May 1945 an RCAF base.

Closed: Flying ended 1953 still an active RAF station

Airfield code :: DJ

ICAO Code ::

Airfield call sign ::

Squadrons based here:

Due to the number of formations stationed permanently or temporarily at Digby during its history these have been listed on a dedicated Digby Squadrons page.

Early Days

RAF Digby initially opened as RAF Scopwick on 28 Mar 1918 with the arrival of 3 Handley Page, three days before the formation of the RAF. It had been active since late 1917 as a satellite airfield for RNAS Cranwell. RAF Scopwick was re-named RAF Digby in Apr 1920. The tale is related that this was due to aircraft parts being lost in the system while RAF Shotwick in Flintshire having a surplus of very similar parts. RAF Scopwick became RAF Digby and RAF Shotwick became RAF Sealand.

Inter-war years

After the Great War RAF Digby specialised in flying training from 1920 - 1937, except a period of "care and maintenance" from 1922 to 1924 when the station was under "Care and Maintenance". 2 Flying Training School and 3 Flying Training School were based here. RAF Digby took on an operational role in the ramp-up to war becoming Sector Fighter Airfield of 12 Group Fighter Command 13 on Aug 1937. The first squadrons to arrive were 46 Sqn and 73 Sqn equipped with Gloster Gauntlet Mk II and Gloster Gladiator Mk I. They converted to the Hawker Hurricane MkI in Nov 1938.

The station's motto Icarus Renatus means Icarus Reborne and relates to the period when the station was under 'care and maintenance' and then re-activated. The badge depicts a white crane superimposed over a maple leaf which alludes to the Canadian era during World War II.

World War II

The first operational war sortie scrambled at 2134 hrs on 3 Sep 1939, only 34 minutes after Digby was ordered by 12 Group to take on the responsibility for defending its sector area. After war broke Digby was augmented by a third Hurricane squadron, 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force. Later, Digby day and night fighters operated from RAF Wellingore and RAF Coleby Grange satellite airfields. The Digby fighter sector stretched from the Midlands to beyond the coast and operations were generally mounted by 2 day fighter sqns and a night fighter sqn co-ordinated by a fighter controller. 73 Sqn was virtually wiped out during the evacuation from Saint Nazaire on 17 Jun 1940 aboard HMS Lancastria.

RAF Digby was a very Canadian station. The first RCAF squadron arrived in Dec 1940, 112 later 402 Winnipeg Squadron RCAF. In Sep 1942 RAF Digby became Royal Canadian Air Force Station Digby to reflect the special nature of units based there. The station also had an RCAF Group Captain Ernie McNab as station commander. Throughout the remainder of the war 13 RCAF Squadrons would operate from Digby and its satellites at RAF Coleby Grange and RAF Wellingore. 402 Sqn and 416 Sqn formed Digby Wing in 1943 and Feb 1944 saw 144 Wing formed at RCAF Digby from 441 Sqn, 442 Sqn and 443 Sqn. It was commanded by Wg Cdr J E "Johnnie" Johnson, the highest scoring RAF ace of the war.

Digby was protected by two Q site decoy airfields at Ruskington (Anwick) and Dorrington.

Cold War and beyond

After the war the station became a training unit and part of the RAF College Cranwell, with its Station Commanders also serving as Assistant Commandants with flying training (19 Flying Training and No 1 and 2 Initial Training Schools) up to 1953 before beginning its specialistion in the signals role. In 1955 399 Signals Unit arrived, to be joined by 591 Signals Unit and the Aerial Erectors School. 399 SU became the Joint Service Signals Unit on 15 Sep 1998

Lima Sector Ops Room, Fighter Command
(RAF Digby Station Museum)

Digby sector ops room has been restored to its wartime state and is open to visitors. See the RAF Digby memorials pages for further details.

Peggy Balfour and Geraldine Poulton served at Digby in 1940 and 1944 as a plotter in the Sector Ops Room. An extract from their narratives and diary are reproduced on the site.

Scopwick War Graves

Situated in Vicarage Lane Scopwick - more information about the individuals buried here is on the separate War Graves page.

 

location of RAF Digbyin relation to Lincolnshire - click here for full-size map showing all station locations

Digby Squadrons

Blankney

Ashby de la Launde

Scopwick War Graves

Sector Ops Room Museum

Digby crashes

Digby Oral Histories:


Digby - A History
" A history 1917 - 1978"
Foreword
Introduction
1917
1918
Inter-War Years
1919
1920
1922-23
1924
1925
1926

1927-1929
1930-1932
1933
1934-1936
1937
1938
World War II

1939
1939-1940
1941
Jan - Aug 1942
Sep 1942 - 1944
1945
Return to Training
1945 - Jan 1948
Feb - Mar 1948
Mar 1948 - 1953
A cadet remembers
The Signals Era
Jan 1955 - Dec 1961
Dec 1963 - 1978
Curent Day

1955 - the Signals Era


Digby Ops Room Museum
A brief history on Airops website

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