Barkston Heath. Pic Credit: Phil Bonner
Barkston Heath Airfield is located west of and adjacent to the B6043 road (Ermine Street) just over one mile south of its junction with the A153. The airfield started life in 1936 as a grass-surfaced satellite landing ground for the RAF College at Cranwell, approximately six miles to the north.
When WWII broke out, the site continued to be used for training and other facilities were added, including four blister hangars. The airfield was selected as suitable for development to Class ‘A’ Standard in 1941.
Construction to upgrade Barkston Heath as a bomber airfield began in the summer of 1943, with the provision of three concrete runways of the standard lengths. A perimiter track connected to the runway heads and 50 aircraft dispersals.
The airfield ultimately had seven hangars, one B1 and six T2s – four of which were erected early 1944 – were sited across the B6043 and linked to the perimeter track by a loop system. The technical site was to the south and communal and accommodation sites dispersed to the south. The bomb stores were located off the western perimeter track.
The airfield was allocated to 5 Group and parented by Swinderby, which was the base station for the group of airfield tasked with training bombing crews.
A change of ownership occurred in January 1944, when the airfield was reopened as Station 483, part of the US Ninth Air Force.
In February, the 61st TCG equipped with Douglas C-47 Dakota, arrived to prepare for the D-Day landings in June 1944. Following this, aircraft from Barkston Heath participated in Operation Market Garden, the ill-fated Allied assault on Rhine Bridges at Arnhem, Holland between 17-25 September 1944.
The 61st TCG left on 13 March 1945. Later that month the 349th TCG arrived from Indiana with their C-46 Commando transport aircraft but they were to stay only three weeks before moving to France on 16th April.
Following the end of WWII, Barkston Heath was retained by the RAF and today, remains an operational station involved in aircrew training.