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  History :: Lincolnshire's role in D-Day

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Updated: 26 Jun 14

As part of the commemorations of D-Day 70, the 2014 70th anniversary of Operation OVERLORD, the following information from around the site has been gathered together for reference about this key event, as many people will naturally focus on activities in the English Channel and on the south coast.

Order of Battle

From the RAF website, the following units are listed as taking part in air operations on D-Day itself as part of Op OVERLORD and Op NEPTUNE. Other contributions in support and the build-up are detailed further below.

RAF Air Defence of Great Britain - No 12 Group

'A' Flight 504 Sqn RAF Digby, Lincs Spitfire VB

RAF Bomber Command - No 1 Group:

12, 626 Sqns Wickenby, Lincs Lancaster I/III
100 Sqn Grimsby, Lincs Lancaster I/III
101 Sqn Ludford Magna, Lincs Lancaster I/III
103, 576 Sqns Elsham Wolds, Lincs Lancaster I/III
166 Sqn Kirmington, Lincs Lancaster I/III
300(Pol) Sqn Faldingworth, Lincs Lancaster I/III
460(RAAF) Sqn Binbrook, Lincs Lancaster I/III
550 Sqn N Killingholme, Lincs Lancaster I/III
625 Sqn Kelstern, Lincs Lancaster I/III

RAF Bomber Command - No 5 Group:

9 Sqn Bardney, Lincs Lancaster I/III
44(Rhodesian), 619 Sqns Dunholme Lodge, Lincs Lancaster I/III
49 Sqn Fiskerton, Lincs Lancaster I/III
50, 61 Sqns Skellingthorpe, Lincs Lancaster I/III
57, 630 Sqns East Kirkby, Lincs Lancaster I/III
106 Sqn Metheringham, Lincs Lancaster I/III
207 Sqn Spilsby, Lincs Lancaster I/III
463(RAAF), 467(RAAF) Sqns Waddington, Lincs Lancaster I/III
97, 83 Sqns Coningsby, Lincs Lancaster I/III
617 Sqn Woodhall Spa, Lincs Lancaster I/III, Mosquito IV
627 Sqn Woodhall Spa, Lincs, Mosquito IV

RAF Coastal Command - No 16 Group:

236, 254 Sqns North Coates, Lincs Beaufighter X

US First Airborne Division and USAAF

In the preparations for Operation OVERLORD and D-Day, the First Airborne Division assembled in Lincolnshire, training and living in the villages around Grantham. The troop carriers of the United States Army Air Force Ninth Air Force launched from many of the airfields of southern Lincolnshire. USAAF bases of the 9th Air Force's 82nd Troop Carrier Group were RAF Fulbeck, RAF Folkingham, RAF Barkston Heath and RAF Saltby.

At RAF North Witham home of 9th USAAF 1st Tactical Air Depot - there was also construction of glider aircraft in preparation for D Day. The 9th AF Troop Carrier Command Pathfinder School at RAF North Witham trained leading airborne invasion forces - view a video

It was from North Witham that the Pathfinder parachutists of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division took off to become the first American troops into Normandy on D-Day. Many young American men also joined the Royal Air Force and served with distinction from the airfields of Lincolnshire. These and many more are honoured in the Airmen’s Chapel in the cathedral. You can find the Pathfinders featured in the RAF Chapel glass at Lincoln Cathedral.

D-Day: At 1220hrs a C-47 from RAF North Witham lands 200 troops in Normandy at to guide in the main paratroop forces.

Life at RAF Digby

In preparation, at RAF Digby, Wg Cdr James Edgar "Johnnie" Johnson was put in command of 144 Wing comprising 411, 442 and 443 Squadrons, whose purpose was to ensure the allies' air superiority during the Normandy landings and then to convert to ground attacks.

Some feeling of the scale of the preparations for D-Day and how the impacted every corner of Lincolnshire can be felt in the number of RAF Regiment Squadrons to process through RAF Digby in the months leading up to Operation OVERLORD.

On 14 Apr 1944, 2815, 2882, 2892, 2894 and 2896 Sqns arrived at Digby and departed just one week later on 20th. 2882 LAA Sqn RAAF had only arrived at Coleby Grange on 1 Mar 1944; 2898 AA Sqn RAuxAF arrived at Wellingore on 15 Mar 44.

Coastal Command

Coastal Command aircraft from RAF North Coates detached for anti-shipping operations in the south from the North Coates Strike Wing. 236 and 256 Sqns flew their Beaufighter in the anti-shipping role under 16 Group as part of the Coastal Command effort in Op NEPTUNE (supporting the D Day landings).

Oral History

Iris Burgess, WAAF based at RAF Manby: "One day a sense of great excitement gripped the entire camp. None other than Winston Churchill himself was coming to Manby in order to inspect the troops. We had spent the past few days making sure the whole camp was spotless and now formed a guard of honour from the main gates. We stood in our ranks, first at ease and then ‘stand easy,’ in order that we could fidget a little.

As time wore on the officers began pacing up and down looking more and more worried. Finally the Air Commodore came out to make the announcement we had all been dreading. The visit was cancelled. We were all dismissed. Nobody knew why until later. For this day was the 6th June 1944: D-Day." Read her full story.

The cost of D-Day

Not everyone made it home to Lincolnshire's airfields from Normandy. 97 Sqn Lancaster Mk III ND739 (OF-Z) departed RAF Coningsby piloted by Wing Commander "Jimmy" Carter. It was lost on D-Day when 97 Sqn served as a marker squadron and raided German emplacements in Normandy. It has recently been uncovered and identified due to a signet ring engraved with wireless operator Flt Lt Albert Chambers DFC's initials. The crew were among the RAF's most-decorated, including four DFCs and three DFMs for gallantry. Read more about the excavation of the site here.

Wg Cdr Carter, DFC
Sqn Ldr Martin Bryan-Smith, DFC
Flt Lt Albert Chambers, DFC
Flt Lt Henry Jeffery, DFM,
Acting Flt Sgt Guy Dunning, DFM
Acting Flt Sgt Frank Watson, DFM
Flt Lieut Ronald Conley, DFC, RAAF
Flt Lieut Herbert Rieger, RCAF

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