RAF Norton, Sheffield, Yorkshire
Visit Date(s): 10th February 2011
The Station opened on 15th August 1939, after transferring from Attercliffe to the east of the city centre (the recruitment office was on Abbeydale Rd, to the south-west of the city centre). The land at Lightwood was requisitioned and became home to No. 16 Balloon Centre, part of No.33 (Barrage Balloon) Group, RAF. The Centre comprised three Squadrons: 939 (West Riding) Sqn (Sheffield West), 940 (West Riding) Sqn (Rotherham) and 941 (West Riding) Sqn (Sheffield Central). Each squadron had three flights comprising 8 balloons each. In August 1940, 941 Sqn was disbanded due to a lack of volunteers, with equipment and personnel being transferred to 939 Sqn. In total, the Centre was responsible for 72 balloons for the defence of Sheffield. In 1943, the Lightwood site was renamed RAF Norton. Between 18th May and 1st December 1943, Norton was a sub-site for 35 Maintenance Unit (and also between 1 Oct 1951 - 28 Feb 1953 for the same MU). RAF Norton also housed the Aircrew Refresher School between 1st July 1943 - 26th July 1945, a disciplinary centre for airmen who committed a number of misdemeanour's, including those judged to be Lacking Moral Fibre (LMF).
With the threat of heavy air raids diminishing, by 1943/44, most of the balloons were transferred south for the defence of London. The site closed as a balloon centre in late 1944
Post-war, the site was occupied by No 3 Ground Radar Servicing Section and school, under the control of 90 (Signals) Group. There was also an air display which took place each year up to the late fifties including fly pasts by Meteors, Vampires, Canberras, V-Bombers and USAF aircraft, although the site never possessed runways; participants would often fly in from RAF Finningley. The station also had a trio of aircraft, at least two of which were on the gate: Spitfire LFXVI TB308 (last seen on the dump at RAF Bicester in silver scheme in 1961), Spitfire F.24 PK724 (delivered to Norton in 1954 for ground instructional use. It is now on display at the RAF Museum, Hendon) and De Havilland Vampire F.1 VF281 (fate unknown). RAF Norton finally closed as an RAF station in January 1965.
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