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The Dams Raid (Operation Chastise) and after
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A Fairtrade village in the English county of Lincolnshire
The dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan negated this plan. After the end of the Second World War and with the move of No. Control of the Bloodhounds passed to Sqn in late and then, in , the entire Sqn moved to Cyprus. Most of the concrete from the runways, perimeter track and hard standings was broken up and taken away to be used as hardcore on one road building project or another.
RAF Woodhall Spa. Photo taken from perimeter track near south-western end on main runway Author's collection - They are now home to nature reserves, holiday parks and even a council tip. In the forty or so years since the airfield was sold off the sand and gravel lying just below the surface has been removed in the same fashion. Very little of the former airfield can be seen: the concrete runways were broken up and used elsewhere for hardcore prior to decades of sand and gravel extraction, which has only recently come to an end.
Two key areas have survived; the former Bloodhound missile site in the north-west corner, which has been retained by RAF Coningsby as a storage site, and the intersection of the main and secondary runway upon which the quarrying plant was once located. Four out of the original hard-standings, in the north-eastern corner of the airfield, have survived simply because they are now on Forestry Commission land in Ostler's Plantation. The moss covered concrete is slowly crumbling and self-seeded trees are growing in the cracks between the slabs. Mature trees, butting up to the edge of the concrete, clearly mark the edge of the hardstandings.
Set into the concrete at the centre of each hardstanding is an iron loop and this is surrounded by six more equally spaced at a radius of 15 feet from the centre. In the woods to the east of the hardstandings a Stanton Air Raid Shelter, built for the protection of the airmen maintaining the dispersed aircraft, can be found. They could be built to any length but they usually consisted of 18 precast concrete arched-shaped units each one in two parts , which were bolted together to form a standard Air Ministry shelter. One of the T2 hangars still stands on its original site having been incorporated in the Bloodhound missile site of the 's and retained as part of the present RAF Woodhall Spa complex.
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A number of other buildings accompany the hangar, which date back to its use as a missile site. The Forestry Commission purchased the acre Ostler's Plantation the late 's.
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The Plantation is bounded on its southern edge by a narrow strip of the airfield perimeter track. As a result the concrete tracks and storage areas of the bomb dump now lie within the plantation and, although much decayed and overgrown, can still be seen.
The Plantation is open to the public and a car park is provided just inside the main entrance on the Woodhall Spa to Kirkby on Bain road. To find the airfield perimeter track, access the plantation by the main entrance and continue straight on. You will reach the edge of the plantation and a rabbit fence after approx yards. You are now standing on the concrete of a much narrowed perimeter track. See if you can find all the bomb storage areas using the plan to the right as a reference. Some of the buildings have been demolished or dismantled presumably by the Forestry Commission , one of two have simply collapsed and the earth blast walls are disguised by brambles and mature trees.
A description of the layout, construction materials and original purpose of each store is described below. The store numbers can be cross-referenced to the plan above:. Store 1. Store 1 was a slightly earlier version of stores 2, 3 and 4, described in the next section.
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Stores 1, 2, 3 and 4 were open air storage areas for large bombs. The hardstandings are set 36 feet apart and separated by 6ft high, 50ft long earth revetments blast walls. Earth revetments also enclose the end of each row. A concrete track runs down each side of the store to permit delivery and collection of the bombs.
Earth revetments also run along the entire length of each store on the outside of each track, so that the blast from the accidental detonation of a bomb is completely contained. All four stores are backed by a 2ft 6 inch high brick wall running the entire length of the row. On top of the brick wall is a 3 feet wide concrete unloading platform.
A concrete ramp, 9 foot in depth, runs down from the platform to the 6 inch high concrete hardstanding in each bay. This type of open bomb store was designed for efficiency in loading and unloading and was typical of bomber airfields constructed from late onwards. Lorries delivering to stores 1, 3 and 4 would pull up alongside the unloading ramp on the west side of store. The bombs could then be rolled down the ramp onto the concrete base or, in the case of the larger bombs, lowered down with ropes.
Armourers tasked with re-arming an aircraft would collect the bombs from the east side of the stores; loading them onto tractor hauled trolleys and towing them to the fusing point. Bomb store 2 was of exactly the same design as 3 and 4, but aligned east-west. The lorry unloading ramp is very visible on the south side of the store.
The village of Market Stainton was at the hub of a vast storage area in the Lincolnshire Wolds, which was in actual fact the wide grass verges of numerous lanes in the surrounding countryside. Tumby Woodside railway station on the 'New Line' was also equipped to handle bombs, so it is possible that they were collected from there. The Tallboy bombs are likely to have been transported direct from the factory to airfield by road and unloaded by crane.
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Tail units for the 'Tall Boy' and 'Grand Slam' bombs were delivered in wooden crates and stored on the concrete manoeuvring areas alongside bomb stores 1, 2, 3 and 4. Bombs returned to the site unused were brought to Store 5 for defusing before being returned to stores 1, 2, 3 or 4. This store is very easily missed as you walk along the concrete track because the earth blast walls have much reduced in height through erosion and are disguised by the cover of thick vegetation and mature, self-seeded trees. Although still standing, most of the front wall has collapsed. A brick wall splits the building into two, unconnected, rooms.
Bomb fuses and detonators were once stored here. Store 7 served exactly the same purpose as store 6, but was built to the earlier design.
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One internal wall of this building still stands and the reinforced concrete roof has broke its back, collapsing either side of it. Incendiary bomb stores Type 'C'. These stores were open concrete hardstandings once enclosed by rectangular shaped earth blast walls. The blast walls were probably levelled by the Forestry Commission, but the brick walls built to retain the earth on either side of the track leading into stores 9 and 11, are still standing.
The incendiary bombs stored here would have been of the 4lb or 30lb type. It was the weapon of choice for the British "dehousing" plan for Germany. The bomb was approximately 2 inches in diameter and 24 inches long. Eight inches at the tail end of the body were hollow, to ensure that the bomb fell nose first. This tonnage equated to , individual incendiary bombs in all. Three hours later Lancasters loaded with the same H.