RAF Kirmington - North Lincolnshire, UK.
RAF Kirmington was built to the standard Class A bomber airfield design with three concrete and tarmac-surfaced runways:
From the encircling perimeter track were thirty-six frying-pan type dispersals and there were two T2 hangers and a B1 hanger.
The bomb dump was to the south of the airfield with the technical site to the east. Living and communal sites were to the north-east for a total of 1644 personnel, RAF and WAAF, all ranks.
Built in 1941, the station was first used as a Relief Landing Ground for RAF Leconfield's 15 (Pilot's) Advanced Flying Unit. This ceased when the airfield was finally opened under 1 Group, Bomber Command in October, 1942. The first unit to arrive was 150 Sqn with their Wellington bomber from RAF Snaith. They were joined briefly by the home echelon of 142 Sqn also with Wellingtons from RAF Waltham. On January 27th 1943, these two units merged to form 166 Sqn (Wellington III; Lancaster I and III, coded 'AS'). The Squadron was to remain at Kirmington throughout the War. They converted from Vickers Wellingtons to Lancasters in September 1943.
By this time Kirmington was part of 13 Base, 1 Group Bomber Command, the parent station being RAF Elsham Wolds, a few miles to the West. In October 1944, a small nucleus of twenty-seven crews from 166 Sqn re-formed 153 Sqn a former night-fighter unit. It only stayed at Kirmington for a week before moving to RAF Scampton.
RAF Kirmington closed in December 1945 and was placed on Care & Maintenance and finally sold off. During 1967, private operators began using the site and in 1970, Lindsay County Council bought the airfield and developed it into what is now Humberside International Airport.
Today, the technical site to the east has gone, apart from a single track and a pile of rubble. The 'new' airport facilities are on the opposite (west) side. Of the dispersed sites, little remains except for the access roads, blast shelters and hut bases amongst the beech trees and conifers.
Kirmington was is a small village on the edge of the Wolds which is quiet, very pleasant and has retained much of its old character. St Helens Church ( pictured above ), whose impressive tower dates from the 12th century, is prominent. In the grounds of the church is the village war memorial which includes the familiar name of former 103 Sqdn airman Frank Holmes.
The village primary school across the road is a fine brick built Victorian building and looks just like a village school should. Along the road through the village there is a reminder of the WW2 days and the airfield in the shape of a fine memorial to 166 Sqn ( the mounted air-screw blade which is a part of the small Memorial Garden is pictured below ) The other notable building is the old village pub, The Marrowbone and Cleaver or Chopper as it was known by locally based airmen and WAAFs. This establishment still does good business and is renowned for its friendly welcome and fine cuisine.
There is a nice little article about Kirmington village from the Grimsby Telegraph here.
In 1945 the airport was abandoned to be used as farmland, before being put back into light use in 1960 when small airlines began operating their aircraft from the site.
This usage continued until 1968, and in 1969 the site was bought by the council and plans were made to turn it into a civil passenger airport.
In 1974 the council opened the passenger terminal to the public and Kirmington became known as Kirmington airport. When the county of Humberside was formed shortly after this, the airport got its new name: Humberside airport.
The first scheduled flight out of Humberside was to Amsterdam in 1975. The passenger terminal had the addition of a new restaurant in 1983. The airport was turned into a private limited company in 1987.
After this, extensive developments took place to the airport, including a runway extension that was opened in 1992. In 1996 significant changes were made to the passenger terminal: new passenger lounges and check in facilities were built.
In 1999 the airport changed hands again when Manchester Airport plc took control of its shares.
In recent times Manchester airport plc put Humberside up for sale but I am told that it has now been withdrawn. What the long term future is for this facility is unclear but in the meantime it seems to be operating well enough.
Item written by David Fell