RAF Wigsley, Nottinghamshire
Visit Date(s): 1992; 02/06/06; 17/01/09
Land for RAF Wigsley was authorised for requisition in October 1940, with construction beginning in 1942. Built as a standard bomber airfield, Wiglsey was spread over 17 sites including the Sick Quarters and Sewage Works. The watch tower was a one-off three storey design (WIG/20 & WIG/1221) and the three concrete-surfaced runways were 20/07 N/S (1400 yards/1280 m), 26/80 ENE/WSW (2000 yards/1828 m) and 32/14 (1400 yards/1280 m). Surrounding this was the perimeter track from which were 36 frying-pan heavy bomber hard standings. When the technical site was built, the road connecting the villages of Wigsley to the north and Spalford (and elsewhere), to the south was closed and formed a central avenue through the technical site. The Station ident was 'WG'
Opening in 1942, RAF Wigsley came under the administration of 5 Group Bomber Command and as a Satellite for RAF Swinderby. The first unit to arrive in February 1942 was 455 Sqn RAAF (Hampden, coded 'UB'). The Australians only stayed until April before they were transferred to Coastal Command, moving to RAF Leuchars.
In June of 1942, Wigsley was to become a prominent training station for 5 Group when 1654 HCU moved in with a mix of Lancasters and Manchesters (coded 'JF' and 'UG'). As usual with training establishments, a few single-engined types were held on strength for fighter affiliation duties. In March 1943 Wigsley became part of 51 Base (along with RAF Winthorpe). In November 1943, with the formation of 7 (HCU) Group Bomber Command, 51 Base became 75 Base but continued in the same training role. By April 1943, Wigsley and 1654 HCU was an all-Lancaster affair but with the pressing need for Lancasters for the front line Squadrons, 1654 began to re-equip with Stirlings. This arrangement lasted until early 1945, when the Stirlings were replaced with Lancasters once more.
Training ceased in September 1945 and 1654 HCU disbanded. In its place was an Aircrew Holding Unit, which dealt with those about to be demobbed or repatriated to the Commonwealth countries. Lasting for less than a year, Wiglsey was placed on CAre & Maintenance in 1946. The airfield was reactiveated in 1950s as a Relief Landing Ground for the Vampires and Meteors of RAF Swinderby's 8 FTS. This lasted until 1st April 1958, when Swinderby ceased using Wigsley as a RLG and the Station closed permanently.
Today little remains. The road which was closed, running through the Technical Site, was never reopened. Instead, it was diverted to follow the eastern perimeter track, which it still does. The tower is very badly vandalised and nothing but a couple of ruins remain on the Technical Site. The bomb stores are in private hands with few original buildings and the ops block survives in private hands and is used for farm storage. Parts of the site are now used for motor cycle scrambling and the airfield is a pig farm, with the runways having been torn up many years ago.
Elsewhere on Airfield Archaeology
Memorials - Annasley: Sirling EH988
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