Military & RAF

RAF Church Fenton

This 260 acre station was opened in 1937 and during the Second World War was home to air defence aircraft, a role retained by the station until the 1960s when it became a training station.


It closed in 2013. During September 1940 it became home to the first RAF "Eagle squadron" of American volunteers being No. 71 Squadron RAF initially with the Brewster Buffalo I for one month before changing to the Hawker Hurricane I. The airfield was also home to both the first all-Canadian and all-Polish squadrons, with No. 242 Squadron RAF for the Canadians and No. 306 Squadron RAF for the Polish.[3] 242 Squadron, first established in the First World War and then disbanded, was re-formed here in October 1939, using Canadian personnel.

RAF Nocton

This Hall is a historic Grade II listed building. The plaque on the north face of the Hall indicates that the original building dates back to about 1530 but since then there have been two notable reconstructions. Several prominent people have been residents of the house the most notable being Frederick John Robinson, 1st Earl of Ripon who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for a short time. During the First World War the house was used as a convalescence home for wounded American Officers. In the Second World War the Americans again used the house as a military hospital after which it was taken over by the RAF and an extensive hospital developed in the grounds. It reverted to private use in the 1980s. In 2004 there was a major fire which left the building in a derelict state

RAF Syreston 

This is a former Officers Mess and Accommodation Quarters. The site was subject to a number of reports back in 2008 and 2009 but since then has attracted little attention due to the state of the buildings.


The RAF base itself was heavily connected with aviation legends such as Guy Gibson VC, Gus Walker and Bill Reid VC, who were all based there during the war. They used the officers’ mess which was built in 1940 for dining, drinking and accommodation. Gibson went on to complete 170 sorties and was promoted to Wing Commander and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), all by the age of just 24. Gibson was later chosen to lead the Dambusters and took command of 617 Squadron and given the authority to pick his own new Squadron. He was awarded the Victoria Cross and went on to be the most highly decorated pilot in the RAF and a national hero. Sadly he was shot down in 1944 during a bombing raid on Rheydt.


The site was put into care and maintenance after operations at the base ceased in 1970. The complex was then sold off by the Ministry of Defence and the Al-Jamia Al Islamia School opened in 1994. In 1997 Ofsted inspectors criticised hygiene, safety and teaching standards and the buildings themselves were starting to deteriorate. In the same year a roofer fell off the roof and broke his back. The school was judged to be culpable and the roofer obtained an order banning the sale of the buildings and the land until he was paid compensation. His claim was settled in January 2007 and the school shut later that year.

RAF Manby

This RAF Mess Hall opened in 1938 as Lincolnshire's first airfield to have a paved runway which was camouflaged after it's construction. It was also used to test a prototype cross wind screen to protect aircraft from cross winds that frequently occurred in the Lincolnshire Wolds. The first residents were the No.1 Air Armament School who were responsible for training all aspects of the RAF's firepower. The base saw extensive use during the course of World War Two from hosting a wide variety of aircraft to becoming an important training centre. The Hall, as a military institution, officially closed on the 31st of March, 1974. The main building was later used as a nursing home before a large fire destroyed the western side of the building, closing the site indefinitely. since then multiple arson attacks have left the hall in a very sorry state.

Prisoner of War Camp 407

Usselby Camp was a Prisoner of War camp during the Second World War. It is an example of a 'Base Camp'. In the official government numbering it was camp number 407 and referred to as Usellby Camp. the exact build date of the site isn't known but from historic maps appears to be around the early 19th century. the buildings were mainly demolished around 1950.

Crashed B29 Site

“Over Exposed” was a reconnaissance RB-29 version of the famous Boeing B29 Superfortress bomber. The aircraft was one of the largest to fly during WWII and saw service into the Korean war with the US and other airforces. The B-29 was rushed out at the end of the war to be used as part of the invasion of the Japanese mainland where intense bombing of Japanese cities became seen as the only way to prevent huge casualties amongst the planned invading forces.

The reason for the aircraft’s crash is a little mysterious due to the sudden and catastrophic nature of its impact with the moor. On 3 November 1948 it took off from RAF Scampton bound for RAF Burtonwood carrying wages and 2 or three passengers not part of the aircraft’s normal compliment. About 30 minutes before landing the pilot seems to have chosen to descend, the result of which was to crash the plane directly into the hillside at several hundred miles per hour.
Why such an experienced flier did this is not clear but it seems probable that three things played their part: Cloud Coverage, the use of dead reckonings (using speed and time to calculate position) or a faulty altimeter. The impact killed all the 13 crew instantly.

“Over Exposed” had been in service just 4 years.

After the crash the tail section, visible for miles around had to be demolished as it was a draw to sightseers. Despite this over the last seven decades sections of the wreckage have been removed by individuals that I’ve seen referred to as “collectors” though I think of as vandals.