Unit History: RAF Waddington
RAF Waddington was opened as a flying training station in November 1916 teaching hundreds of pilots, including many form the US Army to fly until the station was put into care and maintenance in 1920.
It reopened as a bomber base on 12 March 1937, with squadrons flying the Bristol Blenheim and later Handley Page Hampdens. The airfield was enlarged after 1934, when a major RAF expansion began, with many buildings constructed, including some of the hangars which remain in use today.
The station was re-opened as a bomber base on 12 March 1937, and by the end of year housed squadrons flying the Bristol Blenheim, which were subsequently superseded by Handley Page Hampdens.
Waddington hosted a variety of Lancaster and Avro Lincoln squadrons, and, later, Washingtons. The station was put into care and maintenance again in 1953 to prepare it for the V-bomber force. 83 Sqn being the first in the RAF to receive the Vulcan in May 1957. It continued in this role until 1984 when the last Vulcan squadron, No. 50, disbanded.
In June 1954 the Queen approved the RAF Waddington badge, incorporating the towers of Lincoln cathedral, and on 25 April 1959 the station was granted the Freedom of the City of Lincoln. Since then all Waddington aircraft have carried the City Crest.
By August 1961 three squadrons of Vulcans were based at Waddington, and the type remained there until March 1984, its planned retirement having been postponed because of the Falklands conflict.
The fiftieth anniversary of the RAF was celebrated at the base on 1 April 1968, mainly because the RAF's last flying Lancaster was based at the airfield from the mid-1960s until 1970, when moved temporarily to Hendon.
RAF Waddington during WW2
In November 1940 it was the first station to receive the Avro Manchester heavy bomber. 207 Squadron were assigned the task of introducing this ill fated aircraft in to service.
44 Sqn was the first in RAF Bomber Command to fly operationally with the Lancaster on 2 March 1942 from Waddington.
On 17 April 1942 at around 3pm, six Avro Lancasters from 44 Sqn left in daylight for the MAN diesel engine (for U-boats) factory at Augsburg in southern Germany (Bavaria). Four Lancasters were shot down and Squadron Leader John Dering Nettleton received a VC, piloting R5508. He survived due to the German fighters running out of fuel, and lack of daylight.
In 1943 and 1944 the station commander was Group Captain Charles Elworthy.
Concrete runways were laid during 1943 after which two Royal Australian Air Force Lancaster squadrons took up residence. The final WWII raid from Waddington took place on 25/26 April 1945.
Memories of RAF Waddington
(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)
RAF Waddington, Lancaster bombers. in 1943
Written by Harry Toft
1943 was the year I got married. I remember some colleagues' names, so if anyone knows these names or any family members who may recognise them please get in touch.
Ginger Reid, Dick Bow, Johnny Holloway,
Sid Fitch, Joe Holmes and Jock Malcolm.
RAF Waddington, Vulvan B1 Aircraft in 1960
Written by David Fieldhouse
230 OCU Ground Support Staff.
NCO - Corporal Kingdom
Electrical Aircraftsman - Taff Jones, from guess where?
Obtained Airfield driving licence, civilian motor cycle licence until then.
Airfield dispersal based, outdoors in all weather servicing and cleaning huge bombers.
Comradeship, jokes and laughter in the crew room.
Unit re-locates to RAF Finningley June 1961 - nearer to my Bradford home.
Hitchiking home at week-ends to see my girl friend, now my wife of 45 years.
Late November 1961 - National Service demobilisation, mixed feelings.
50 years ago, seems like only yesterday.
RAF Waddington, in 1963
Written by Meg Towse
A real red letter day for me was being taken for a flight in a Vulcan along with my friend Cherrie,(a fellow Air Trafficer) we had badgered several of the pilots to take us and finally were successful.
It was THE most fantastic experience and every time I see XH558 in flight it brings a big lump to my throat, I consider myself very lucky to have had such a wonderful experience, I just wish I could remember the pilots name.
Everyone...please do all you can to keep XH558 flying....it would be very sad to see her mothballed !