RAF Bircotes, Yorkshire
Site Visit(s): 2005
RAF Bircotes was built on a flat piece of the undulating farmland about a mile west of the market town of Bawtry (and formerly in the county of Nottinghamshire). Opening in November 1941, Bircotes was a grass-surface airfield with three runways: N/S 1540 yards (1408 m), E/W 1530 yards (1399 m) and NW/SE 1350 yards (1234 m). The landing area was surrounded by a concrete perimeter track, from which were thrity frying-pan hardstands. The three hangars were mixed - one T2, one B1 and one Besseneau. Technical and living quarters sites were to the north west of the airfield, with the latter providing accommodation and amenities for 844, RAF and WAAF, all ranks. The station identification code was 'BR'.
Origianlly named RAF Bawtry, this was changed to Bircotes in April 1942 to avoid confusion with the nearby RAF Bawtry which was the home of the Headquarters of No. 1 Group, RAF Bomber Command. However, Bircotes was to play host Bawtry's Communications Flight, which moved in from Hucknall in April 1941 for the duration of the war, with its mix of aircraft types. Although part of Maintenance Command, Bircotes was also the home to a number of training units during its life. The first of these was 25 OTU, who operated from 14th November 1941 to 7th January 1943. During their stay, Bircotes was upgraded after being made a satellite for nearby RAF Finningly. Improvements included the addition of two Link Trainer buildings, two Ground Instructional buildings, blast shelters and a Crew Procedure Centre. The runways remained grass.
Other occupants included 16FTS (February - August 1943), 18 OTU (March 1943 - Nov 1944) and 28 OTU (June - July 1944). During the latter stages of WW2, the airfield was also used by a number of Maintenance Units. A new MU, No. 250, was formed at Bircotes and this was later absorbed by 61 MU, who used Bircotes as a sub-site to the Aircraft Equipment Depot, Handforth, between 1944 - 1948. The site was also used briefly as a sub-site for 25 MU at Haywood in the West Midlands.
The airfield closed after the departure of the last MU and was quickly returned to agriculture. Most of the facilities were dismantled, the only remnant being the B1 hangar on the south of the airfield, alongside the A631. This is now in private hands, serving as a storage depot.
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