US Army Air Force Station 479
Updated: 12 Feb 12
Opened: 15 Dec 1943 as Army Air Force Station 479
Care and Maintenance: 1948
Closed: 1956, sold off by Feb 1960
Airfield code: NW
Units based here:
9th USAAF 1st Tactical
Air Depot: Sep 1943 - May 1945
100 MU :: 9 May 1945
- 1 Dec 1948
259 MU :: 1 Jul 1945 - 31 Aug 1948
16 MU :: 1 Jun 1946 - 1950
No 4 RAF Regiment Depot :: 1 Oct 1945 - 5 Jun 1946
Books about RAF North Witham :: click here
RAF North Witham was built in Twyford Wood alongside the A1 for Bomber Command's 7 Gp following a survey of the dense woodland in 1942. The Air Ministry requisitioned the site from the Forestry Commission. The airfield conformed to the normal A-layout with the main runway 2000 yds long. The dispersals were scaled to cope with 50 bomber aircraft at one time.
In late 1943 however the overall air campaign was changing with the arrival of US forces during the build-up to D Day. The airfield was therefore destined to have a career with the 9th USAAF group which flew C-47, C-53 and CG-4A gliders. It became US Army Air Force Station 479 with an active runway from Dec 1943 and spent most of the period as a service, resupply and repair facility for the local Troop Carrier Groups as the 9th USAAF 1st Tactical Air Depot. There was also limited construction of glider aircraft in preparation for D Day.
RAF North Witham's most significant role in the Second World War was to serve 9th Air Force Troop Carrier Command Pathfinder School from Mar 1944 when it moved from RAF Cottesmore. The School was established to train the leading airborne invasion forces. C-47 from North Witham landed 200 troops in Normandy at 1220hrs on D-Day to guide in the main paratroop forces. After the 82nd and 101st Divs had departed the Pathfinder School continued to train, amongst others, the Polish Airborne Brigade for Op MARKET GARDEN. The School departed on 13 Sep 1944 for Oxfordshire as it was now too far north to support ops in France. Other units of the 9th Air Force began to depart over the coming months for France, a process which continued until the end of the war. By 1 May 1945 all of the remaining 9th USAAF 1st Tactical Air Depot units had departed North Witham.
In Jun 1945 North Witham was returned to RAF control. The association with Bomber Command, parenting via Barkston Heath, did not long and the airfield was placed under Care and Maintenance with Maintenance Command on 7 May 1945. Within 2 days 100 MU at RAF South Witham was using the hard standing and runways as an expansive bomb dump. Shortly thereafter, on 1 Jul 1945, 259 MU was formed here as an Equipment Disposal Depot, operating an aircraft spares depot. Within 3 weeks 259 MU had a satellite depot at RAF Woolfox Lodge. Within days Woolfox Lodge became the parent 259 MU site and North Witham the satellite. 16 MU utilised the hard standing from 1 Jun 1946 until possibly 1950. Like 259 MU this was an Equipment Disposal Depot. On 1 Dec 1948 100 MU was disbanded and immediately reformed as 93 MU. This unit continued to parent North Witham from RAF South Witham until 18 April 1956.
In addition to the Maintenance Units, RAF North Witham hosted No 4 RAF Regiment Depot, from 1 Oct 1945 to 5 Jun 1946. This Depot had a dual function: it streamed RAF Regt personnel returning from overseas into categories for early release and also trained recruits and ran field training courses. By Apr 1946 No 3 RAF Regiment Depot at RAF Folkingham was taking over its roles as in ran down for the last 2 months of its existence.
After 1948 RAF North Witham was again placed on care and maintenance until finally being closed in 1956. The site was disposed of in 1960 with the original woodland site being returned to the Forestry Commission and re-planted. BRM racing motors made use of the empty runways in 1961 and 1962 to test their cars, displaced from RAF Folkingham which was by now a Thor missile base.
The modern-day remains RAF North Witham are scattered amongst Twyford
Woods, a Forestry Commission Nature Reserve open to the general public. In
addition to the peritrack and runways a T2 hangar, 343/43 control tower and
water tower remain.
RAF North Witham on ControlTowers.co.uk
Buy an aerial photo of RAF North Witham on GetMapping.com
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