Unit History: RAF Lindholme
RAF Lindolme started life as an expansion scheme aerodrome built on the wide expanse of Hatfield moors, some five miles east of Doncaster. The site, to the east of the A614 Thorne to Bawtry road, was a mile south of the small village of Hatfield Woodhouse, the name first selected for the new station. Work began in the spring of 1938 taking in approximately 250 acres (1.0 km2) of pasture for the airfield itself and a further 150 for the camp and support facilities.
Three Type C hangars fronted the south-west side of the bombing circle, with a fourth and fifth behind the two outer hangars. The administration, technical and barrack area lay alongside the A614. As was common with these expansion scheme airfields, the construction of buildings took place over several months and the pace was only quickened by the outbreak of war. Officially opened in June 1940 under No.5 Group, No. 50 Squadron RAF and its Hampdens arrived the following month. Two and a half months after its official opening, notification was received on August 18 that the station name was to be changed to Lindholme, the reason being possible confusion with Hatfield airfield in Hertfordshire. Lindholme was a country house and hamlet on the eastern boundary of the airfield.
No. 50 was the sole resident at Lindholme until June 1941 when a new Canadian-manned bomber squadron was raised there. No. 408 Squadron RCAF was equipped with Hampdens and, once having found its feet, it was moved to Syerston to begin operations in July. The following month, Lindholme was one of a number of No.5 Group stations handed over to No.1 Group, as a result of which No.5 Group moved its No.50 Squadron to RAF Swinderby. From RAF Syerston, No.1 Group moved in two of the Polish squadrons under its charge - Nos.304 and 305 - both flying Vickers Wellingtons. These two squadrons, having been operational since April, continued their contribution to Bomber Command’s offensive from the new station throughout the following winter. In May 1942, No.304 Squadron was detached to assist RAF Coastal Command but the detachment soon became an assignment and did not return to RAF Bomber Command. Two months later No. 305 squadron was transferred to RAF Hemswell to concentrate Polish-manned bomber squadrons on one station.
During the first two years of war, a bomb store had been constructed on the far side of the A614 as had a taxi spur with three pan hardstandings. A perimeter track and over 30 pan hardstandings had also been built during this period. By 1942 Lindholme was due for upgrading and the construction of concrete runways was put in hand. However, extension of the airfield was somewhat restricted by the Hatfield Moor Drain on the eastern boundary but more land was acquired to the north necessitating the closure of two roads, one to the hamlet of Lindholme. Because of these physical restrictions, only two runways were built, 14-32 and 05-23, both of which were extended to 1,400 and 2,000 yards respectively. A new bomb store was fashioned on land to the north of the station, which resulted in obstruction of seven pan dispersal points. Two others were lost due to the construction of a new perimeter track. Even so, the station ended up with 41 pans and one loop type. A few additional camp sites were added to the south of the main area giving the station maximum accommodation for 2,192 men and 365 females.
The immediate post-war years found Nos.57 and 100 Squadrons with their Lincolns in residence from May to September 1946. Wellingtons joined Lindholme with No. 5 Air Navigation School Wellington T.10s, Avro Ansons, and also 3 Vickers Valettas, coded A, B, and C.
In November 1952 things changed quite dramatically, when Bomber Command Bombing School (BCBS) was formed at Lindholme, using up to 18 Lincolns and 8 Varsities. In addition in 1958 there was an Anson C19 (registration VM387), and also the first Hastings arrived - TG503.
BCBS reduced in size quite dramatically in 1959 and 1960 and in the latter year there seemed to be only 4 Lincolns left, but this type was being replaced by Hastings. All the Lincolns had gone by 1961, with 8 Hastings, including the forerunner TG503, having replaced them.
Lindholme was also a Canberra modification centre where English Electric Canberras were adapted for advanced duties.
By 1972 the Bomber Command Bombing School had become Strike Command Bombing School and in 1972 moved out.
Hangars were used for storage by a USAF detachment during the height of the Cold War and later for various RAF ground units and Strike Command stores, where parts for front-line aircraft were stored.
Lindholme also had an interesting approach pattern with a visual circuit of 800 feet. This was so that the approach didn’t interfere with the approach for neighbouring RAF Finningley’s runway 20.