On Sunday 18 September 2022 in aid of the Crowland Buffalo, vehicles from the 1930s to the 1960s took a round trip of war memorials and ex and active bases across Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. The trip started at Stibbington Diner on the A1 with a lunch stop at Alconbury Weald*, and finally the former RAF Spanhoe. It was a fabulous day and later even the sun came out.
RAF Sibson: The base opened in July 1940. It only ever had grass runways but was used as a training base for naval pilots flying Hawker Audaxes and Hart bi-planes. It later saw Tiger Moths before being closed in 1946. The airfield is now a private concern used for light aircraft.
RAF Polebrook: Opened in August 1940 this airfield had an ‘A’ shape of three runways. Built for heavy bombers and transports the base hosted the American B-17C during the second world war. The base closed in October 1948 and today the majority of the runways have been removed.
RAF Grafton Underwood: Opened in 1941 the airfield was assigned USAAF Station 106 and was used by the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force. The base was home to the B-17 Flying Fortress. After the war, Grafton Underwood was used for vehicle storage but finally closed in 1959.
RAF Molesworth: RAF Molesworth dates back to 1917. It’s still an operational site but a non-flying facility under the control of the United States Air Force (USAF). During the Second World War the site was home to Douglas DB-7s and later the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.
RAF Alconbury: Opened in 1938 for RAF Bomber Command and from 1942 the United States Army Air Force. The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress arrived in November 1942. Part of the base is still operational as a non-flying site but much has been sold for new housing and commercial premises.
RAF Glatton (Connington): Opened in 1944 the site was home to the B-17s of the 457th Bombardment Group. Today parts of two of the runways remain and Glatton now operates as Peterborough Business Airport.
RAF Deenethorpe: During the Second World War the site was home to the 401st Bombardment Group flying the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Today part of the old main runway is now used as a private airstrip but the 600 acres (240 ha) airfield was approved as a “garden village” in 2017. The plans include a village green, shops and a community hall, as well as more than 1,000 homes.
RAF Spanhoe: The final stop on the day, RAF Spanhoe opened in 1943 and was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces primarily as a transport airfield. Today little of the airfield remains. The majority of the main runways were removed but it is currently active and the home to various privately owned light aircraft.
The content above is just a summary, click on the links for further information about any of the locations.
Thank you to everyone who attended and we hope everyone had a good day. Some of the feedback we have had:
- “Fantastic day out. Thanks to everyone involved”
- “We had a very nice day out can not wait for the next one”
- “It was a really good day out I think, really enjoyed it, looking forwards to another one soon”
- “Fantastic day well done all, really well thought out enjoyed every minute”
- “Excellent road trip for a worthy cause. We enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you.”
Terrific day, great fun and beautiful drive, thank you for organising this, we loved it.
- The lunch stop was at Bohemia Alconbury Weald. This converted restaurant lies at the heart of the first phase of the Alconbury Weald development which is located on the site of the old RAF base. The grade 2 listed building was the first permanent structure on the former airfield and served as RAF Alconbury’s central operations hub during the second world war.