Unit History: RAF Swinderby
Motto: Haec porta moenia viri - these are the gates, the Men are the walls
RAF Swinderby (now closed) used to be a Royal Air Force Bomber Command airfield, one of the last of the stations completed under the RAF's expansion plans which started in the 1930s. It is built near the village of Swinderby, Lincolnshire just off the south east side of the A46 near Lincolnshire, England.
Under the command of Number 1 Group, Swinderby came under the control of RAF Bomber Command and housed numbers 300 and 301 squadrons, mainly Polish manned initially flying the Fairey Battle. Later squadrons would use such diverse aircraft as the Handley Page Hampden, the Vickers Wellington, Avro Manchester and finally Avro Lancasters.
In the 1950s it was the home of No. No. 8 FTS, converting trainee pilots to Vampires. In 1956 it hosted a brief experiment to keep all the flying training to wings stage straight through on one base. This was abandoned after a month due to the obvious danger of collisions in the circuit between the Vampires and the much slower piston engined Provost basic trainers.
In 1964, Swinderby changed its role to that of recruit training, responsible for the basic training of all enlisted RAF personnel prior to their trade training.
In 1995 the station was put up for sale to commercial development and the airfield plays host to semi-regular events including antique fairs.
Many buildings, hangars and the air traffic control tower remain in evidence along with acres of concrete runways and taxiways.
Part of the Parris Island boot camp scenes for the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket were filmed at Swinderby.
RAF Swinderby during WW2
The airfield was ready for use by June 1942 so No: 50 Squadron returned to convert Manchester while runways were being put down at Skellingthorpe. This lasted until October when the squadron returned to its former base. A No. 50 Squadron Lancaster failing to return on the night of September 23/24, 1942 is believed to be the last Bomber Command aircraft lost in operations from Swinderby, bringing the total wartime losses to 84. These were two Battles, 54 Hampdens, 12 Wellingtons, two Manchester’s and seven Lancaster’s.
Swinderby was then selected to become an operational training station for No. 5 Group with the formation of No. 1660 Heavy Conversion Unit using Manchester’s and Lancaster’s. However, a shortage of Lancaster’s in the autumn of 1943 caused most to be withdrawn from the HCU and Stirling’s were employed instead until the position improved. Some form of training activity was henceforth to be Swinderby's lot. No. 1660 HCU came under the control of No. 7 Training Group in November 1944 and remained for two more years before moving to Lindholme. It was replaced at Swinderby by No. 17 OTU - initially with Wellingtons - later redesignated No. 201 Advanced Flying School being joined by No. 204 AFS using Mosquito’s. In following years, further changes of unit and equipment occurred with Swinderby remaining a flying training establishment until March 1964.
Memories of RAF Swinderby
(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)
WRAF Swinderby 16th October in 1973
Written by Marilyn WilliamsThe day I joined up and met my husband to be on the train, and we have been together since.
RAF Swinderby basic Training in 1969
Written by Terry jonesArrived at this basic training depot in July 1969 and I did not know it at the time that my life would change from this moment on, anyway for the next six weeks at least the bull the beastings constant dril and pt and strangely mid way through basic I discovered dance nights with wraf's coming over from Spitalgate Grantham. talk about a cattle market I do think about those times happy times and also sadness about the loss of three colleagues from our flight who were tragically killed in car crash coming back from RAF Spitalgate on a thursday night.
RAF Swinderby May 1987 in 1987
Written by Rachel Collinsmy first memory at RAF Swinderby was the early mornings,especially after a night of hectic bulling of shoes and shirt ironing etc perfectly-no sleep,scared stiff of what was going to happen next!those mile and half runs,cross country followed by the dreaded 'jabs',great fun!Stripping paint off floors at the weekend,food in the mess(nice!),shopping in town centre and if you was lucky(I was 18)getting half a lager in the NAFFI that eve-then getting a sneaky snog from your 'boy or girlfriend' on the way back(without the staff catching you!),I can see it all now!The hardest bit,was 3 days Military Field Training(MFI) and no it has nothing to do with wood and nails!!!!those 2-4am fire duties-that was hard,oh and the food-so hungrey,but only minutes to eat it.Of course the best bit,was the passing-out(lucky if you didnt actually pass-out as it was very warm!),my mum and dad have the video,which id love to watch again,but can just remember the feeling of being so proud and happy to be with the good friends i made in those memorable 6 weeks of my life.
raf swinderby in 1978
Written by fred reidmy first day at raf swinderby will never leave my mind.within an hour my head was shaved and docs done and dumpped in a 12 man room.sat on my bed thinking what have you done.yet worse was to come.raf catterick and raf regiment training
raf swinderby in 1966
Written by phillip strawnI never realy liked it there,it was nearly always cold bleak and miserable,and some of those instructers were right ba*****ds,I know they had to have discipline but it seemed tto me they enjoyed it to much,mind I did make a few bob there,as one of the few blokes who could sew,iron,and bull boots,I did feel sorry for the poor beggar from Ross-on-wye,who no matter how hard he tried,just couldnt get the hang of service life,he got sent home cos he coulnt march,tie his laces or his tye,he always looked like a sack of spuds, I went to his family when I was up the school of catering at Hereford,and tried to explain to his father that it was no disgrace,he just couldnt do it,they were a nice family,I hope he had a better life out than he did in.
Active From: 1940 - 1995