RAF in the East Riding of Yorkshire, H-Z

To read part one A-F click here

RAF Hedon

Opened: 1916

Closed: 1939

Located six miles west of Hull, the site was a former racecourse that closed in 1909, and during WW1 it was used as a night landing airfield by Nos. 33 and 76 Squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps. In 1929, it was officially opened as an airport, continuing in that role for a decade until the outbreak of WW2: it was deemed unsuitable as a military airstrip with all civilian flights effectively cancelled during hostilities, and never reopened as an airfield.

RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor

Opened: 1941

Closed: 1983

With the airfield coming under the control of Bomber Command, three runways were constructed at Holme-on-Spalding Moor, 12 miles north east of Goole, No. 458 Squadron of the RAAF the first to arrive in August 1941, operating Vickers Wellingtons. Just weeks after it opened, the airfield was on the receiving end of its first attack – a secondary target after a raid on Newcastle, several killed on the ground at Holme.

A sergeant on flying control duty reports in as a Halifax V of No 1663 HCU comes in to land at Holme-on-Spalding Moor, 21 October 1943.

(A sergeant on flying control duty reports in as a Halifax V of No 1663 HCU comes in to land at Holme-on-Spalding Moor, 21 October 1943)

In August 1942, the Aussie contingent was increased with the arrival of No. 460 Squadron RAAF operating Halifaxes, their stay lasting only a few weeks before they left and 101 Squadron RAF arrived, in the midst of their transition to the new Lancaster bombers.

After the war, Holme was chosen as a training centre, with No. 14 Advanced Flying Training School, 14 AFTS, reformed there in 1952 with Airspeed Oxfords and Percival Prentices. Soon after, the airfield was handed over temporarily to the USAF while Elvington was being upgraded for the role permanently. From 1958, the airfield was leased to Blackburn Aircraft Ltd who had their main factory nearby at Brough.

RAF Holmpton

Opened: Early 1950s

Closed: 2014

Holmpton was built as an early warning radar system as part of the ROTOR Radar Defence Programme – a connected series of coastal locations created in the early 1950s to counter the threat of Soviet bombers. Its main structure was essentially a nuclear command bunker buried 100ft below the surface, encased in 10ft of solid concrete, with a number of surface structures.

In 1974, all radar systems at the site situated 20 miles east of Hull closed, and in the 80s it became the new emergency war HQ for RAF Support Command, returning to a training role when the Cold War ended in 1991.
The Access Tunnel to the Bunker at RAF Holmpton

(The Access Tunnel to the Bunker at RAF Holmpton)

The site also contained an operations area for the Royal Observer Corps, and from the end of the Cold War it was used occasionally for training for the RAF Regiment and the TA. In 2012 it was decided that the site was surplus to RAF requirements, and the land would be sold, a museum forming part of the development.

RAF Hornsea Mere

Opened: 1915

Closed: 1919

No runway but a stretch of still water enabled Hornsea Mere, located 1500 yards from the sea, to be deemed as an ideal location to launch seaplanes, operating as a Royal Naval Air Service, RNAS, base until it became a RAF station in 1918 when the RNAS and Royal Flying Corps merged to form the RAF. A new command structure saw Hornsea Mere become part of No. 18 Group, with No. 251 Squadron formed to fly coastal and anti-submarine patrols – as the squadron had no seaplanes, they flew from other stations and were only listed as operating from Hornsea.

No. 248 Squadron was also formed at Hornsea Mere in 1918, flying Short 184s and Fairey Hamble Baby floatplanes; a year later the site was put up for sale by the government.

RAF Howden

Opened: 1916

Closed: 1930

WW1 saw an airship station created at Howden to cover the east coast ports, and protect shipping from attacks from German U-boats, although no airships flying from Howden ever engaged with an enemy craft. Originally operating under the RNAS badge, it became a RAF station when the service was established in 1918.

Non-rigid airship being handled at Howden during World War I

(Non-rigid airship being handled at RAF Howden during World War I)

In 1919, a new hangar was constructed in the town 15 miles south east of York, the largest in the world at the time, and soon after the US Navy bought the British airship R38, tests taking place at Howden before it was planned to take it across the Atlantic. However, on August 23, 1921, it took off from Howden on its fourth flight, but disaster struck over the River Humber, the structure disintegrating and the craft breaking up, crashing into the Estuary with 45 of the 49 on board killed.

RAF Hunmanby Moor

Opened: 1939

Closed: 1945

No airfield or hangars but plenty of accommodation at the site more commonly known as RAF Filey, which was in fact the east coast Butlins Holiday Camp, commandeered at the start of WW2 for the training of RAF recruits. Thousands of personnel came through its doors with instructors from the Brigade of Guards and the Royal Marines drafted in for their expertise.

RAF Hutton Cranswick

Opened: 1942

Closed: 1946

Opening as a fighter airfield under No. 12 Group RAF, the station saw numerous Spitfire squadrons pass through with Fighter Command renowned for rotating personnel through several sites in quick succession. Along with the RAF, the Royal Canadian Air Force, RCAF, and several Polish squadrons used the station located just south of Driffield.

RAF Leconfield

Opened: 1936

Closed: 1977

Leconfield formed part of Bomber Command, Handley Page Heyford bombers from No. 166 Squadron RAF arriving in January 1937. On September 3, 1939, the day war was declared, ten Whitley bombers took off from the station located just outside of Beverley to drop propaganda leaflets over Germany, the first Allied aircraft to penetrate German airspace.

Just a month after war began, the station was taken over by Fighter Command, the Spitfires of 72 Squadron arriving from Church Fenton, and in the summer of 1940 during the Battle of Britain, the station was used as a temporary home for many squadrons, taking time to rest and regroup.
Sea King of No. 202 Squadron (E-Flight) based at RAF Leconfield

(Sea King of No. 202 Squadron (E-Flight) based at RAF Leconfield)

Post war it became home to the Central Gunnery School was a dispersal base for the V-bomber force of aircraft carrying Britain’s nuclear deterrent during the 1950s and 60s, with many other squadrons and units making Leconfield their home before it was closed in 1977.

RAF Lissett

Opened: 1943

Closed: 1947

Originally used as a satellite station for Catfoss, it was constructed in the bomber airfield format, with No. 158 Squadron equipped with Halifaxes the resident squadron, carrying out operations from the station located six miles south west of Bridlington from March 1943 till the end of the war. It was unusual for a RAF station that, apart from a few weeks early in 1944, only No. 158 Squadron operated out of the site, completing 250 missions, 851 airmen losing their lives along with 144 aircraft lost.

In August 1945, the Squadron relocated to RAF Stradishall, with the station used as a storage centre until its eventual closure.

RAF Melbourne

Opened: 1940

Closed: 1951

The site, 15 miles south east of York, was used as a relief landing ground for RAF Leeming, before it was concreted over to become a standard Bomber Command airfield, No. 10 Squadron arriving with their Handley Page Halifaxes.

Handley Page Halifax aircraft landing at RAF Melbourne during the Second World War

(Handley Page Halifax aircraft landing at RAF Melbourne during the Second World War)

The airfield was one of 17 using the FIDO dispersal system, so it was a popular diversion station for other squadrons and became particularly busy during poor visibility. In May 1945 it was transferred to RAF Transport Command, 575 Squadron arriving with Douglas Dakotas to move personnel and equipment to mainland Europe, only staying for a few months with the airfield no longer used for flying by the middle of 1946.

RAF Patrington

Opened 1942

Closed: 1955

Located 15 miles south east of Hull, Patrington was built as a radar station and used for ground-controlled interception, GCI, particularly useful when guiding night fighters towards attacking bombers coming over the North Sea. Linked to a series of similar stations across the country, it was earmarked to form part of the ROTOR Radar Defence Programme in the 1950s, but ground conditions prevented this, a site at nearby Holmpton chosen instead (see above).

RAF Pocklington

Opened: 1941

Closed: 1946

Earmarked for a role within Bomber Command, work at Pocklington began in August 1940, with original plans for a grass airstrip soon making work for construction of three concrete runways, which became four when it was realised that original plans would lead to the nearby village of Barmby Moor being demolished.
Handley Page Halifax of 102 Squadron at RAF Pocklington
The RCAF unit of 405 Squadron were the first occupants at the site 13 miles east of York, a year later exchanging stations with No. 102 Squadron at RAF Topcliffe, 102 the last unit to occupy Pocklington. The location is now home to Wolds Gliding Club, with former members of 102 Squadron still holding reunions there.

RAF Snaith

Opened: 1941

Closed: 1946

Located in Pollington, 12 miles east of Pontefract, the station was named Snaith to avoid confusion with the nearby RAF Pocklington, and it was very much a site that was constructed to function solely during WW2. A number of squadrons passed through including Nos. 51, 150, 266 and 578 Squadrons, operating mainly bombers, but No. 266 flew Hawker Typhoons from Snaith for a short time during WW2.

The Officer of the Watch in the Watch Office at Snaith, Yorkshire, guiding Handley Page Halifaxes of No. 51 Squadron RAF back to base after a night raid on Nuremberg. The Station Commander of Snaith, Group Captain N H Fresson, can be seen waiting outside on the balcony of the Control Tower.

(The Officer of the Watch in the Watch Office at Snaith, Yorkshire, guiding Handley Page Halifaxes of No. 51 Squadron RAF back to base after a night raid on Nuremberg. The Station Commander of Snaith, Group Captain N H Fresson, can be seen waiting outside on the balcony of the Control Tower.)

The station closed shortly after the end of hostilities and in the 1970s the site was effectively cut in half with the construction of the M62 motorway.

RAF Sutton-on-Hull

Opened 1939

Closed 1969

The RAF station located in a suburb of Hull was known locally as Balloon Barrage, established in 1939 as No. 17 Balloon Centre tasked with the role of controlling and maintaining the balloons deployed over Hull and the Humber for protection against German aircraft. By 1942, the year it was renamed RAF Sutton-on-Hull, it had seen more than 2,000 RAF and Women’s Auxiliary Air Force personnel pass through the station.

RAF Sutton-on-Hull in 1942

Sutton was home to Nos. 942, 943 and 944 (East Riding) Balloon Squadrons, each consisting of five flights with nine balloons – each balloon was crewed by a Corporal, ten air personnel of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, and one RAF Balloon operator; operations were under control of No. 33 Group, part of Bomber Command, based in Sheffield.

The site was also home to the RAF School of Firefighting and Rescue from 1943-1959, and it now forms part of Bransholme housing estate.

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