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  RAF Theddlethorpe

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> RAF Bases

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Full list of locations

Alma Park
Anwick
Bardney
Barkston Heath
Belton Park
Binbrook
Blankney Hall
Blyton
Boston Wyberton Fen
Bottesford
Bracebridge Heath
Braceby
Buckminster
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Caistor
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Coleby Grange
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Cuxwold
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East Halton
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Elsham Wolds
Faldingworth
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Freiston
Fulbeck
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Grantham
Greenland Top
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Harlaxton
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Holbeach
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Lincoln West Common
Ludford Magna
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Market Deeping
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Saltby
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South Carlton
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Spilsby
Spitalgate
Stenigot
Strubby
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Sutton Bridge
Swinderby
Swinstead
Theddlethorpe
Tydd St Mary
Waddington
Wainfleet
Waltham (Grimsby)
Wellingore
Wickenby
Wigsley
Winterton
Woodhall Spa

Updated: 1 Oct 13

Opened: <1940

Closed: 1973

Units based here:

RAF Theddlethorpe was a bombing and gunnery range for RAF Manby with a small emergency landing ground. It was closed in the 1970s due to its proximity to a natural gas terminal. It was the scene of early 20 mm air cannon trials.

During World War II, Manby's 1 Air Armament School relied on Theddlethorpe's drogues for target practice. As described by WAAF Iris Burgess the air gunners were on weekly courses and after lectures performed gunnery practice;

"They flew in Wellingtons, the guns of which were loaded with different coloured bullet tips. The Drogue planes flew up and down over a course at Theddlethorpe, each plane carrying three Drogues which were streamed from the plane by a long wire. The gunnery planes flew alongside the Drogues with the gunners taking it in turns to fire at them with their different coloured bullets. Afterwards the Drogues were returned to Theddlethorpe where the holes were counted and accorded to the gunner who had fired the colours. Each man had to make a certain number of hits to pass. Resources being scarce the Drogues were then repaired for future use on another occasion in much the same way as parachutes.

First flights usually took place around 8am and exercises often finished as late as 10.30pm meaning that it was often after eleven when we left off .. On days when the weather prevented flying I helped out on a number of tasks including splicing loops on the towing wires, rewinding spools or replacing cords on the Drogues. Sometimes I even helped out in the control tower." Read more ...

View some historical photographs of Theddlethorpe in 1956 in the gallery.

RAF-Lincolnshire.info was contacted by Mr Peter White whose father was CO from 1959 to 1962:

"Interested to see the old site. My father, F/O John White was C.O. there '59 to '62. He passed away in 2002 at 72, so he was in his late 20s at the time. I was only 10 at the time but had a great time there with my little brother, particularly with 9 miles of private beach. It was a privilege to be able to watch bombs dropped and big guns tested. I'll never forget W/O Bradley, my father's No2, he was great fun. I recall my dad saying he had 29 men at Theddlethorpe."

Used as an Airweapons Range in the 1970's, Theddlethorpe consisted of two large wooden structures mounting large Radar Reflecting Targets at the North and South ends of the beachfront. A retard bomb target consisting of a derelict Comet Mk IV Tank, a derelict 3 tonner laden with oil drums constituted the SNEB Rocket Target and 16x16ft scaffolding and Hessian Screens made up the 30mm Aden Gun Strafe Targets. There was a small ATC 'Tower' emplaced on the edge of the dunes to coordinate and control Air Traffic and firing sorties.

Due to the proximity of the Mablethorpe Resort, typical ordnance used on the range was restricted to 4lb Retard Bombs (fibreglass), 25 pounders, 30mm Aden and at times a civilian munitions company British Market Research (BMARCo) brought landbased mobile weaponry to demonstrate to potential customers. Some initial tests were done with the Rapier Ground to Air Missile System operated by elements of the British Army.

The Callsign was "Saltfleet Target".

The Unit was self-contained and was an admin satellite of RAF Manby and then RAF Binbrook, having limited accommodation for single airmen. It had a combined ranks mess, local Unit HQ and limited entertainment (disco/bar) that extended to the local populace and youth. A small MT Section and Workshops Area existed and a limited number of Civillian Employees provided Labour, telephone services and other duties as required. A complement of approximately 35-40 was the usual muster of military personnel and six civillians at any one time was usual.

 

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

Theddlethorpe photos

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