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North Witham

Military site : airfield

Planned as an RAF bomber station, North Witham was built during 1942-43 and allocated to USAAF Troop Carrier Command (TCC) in August 1943, before construction was complete.

The station had eventually three concrete runways, 50 loop hardstandings, and two T2 plus six Butler hangars. It was selected to be the home of the 1st Tactical Air Depot, for maintenance and repair of C-47 transports, so the main resident units were the 29th (originally 85th) and 33rd Air Depot Groups from January to September 1944.

The station was also occupied from March to September 1944 by the IX TCC Pathfinder School, which operated C-47s fitted with special navigation and radar equipment. In September 1944 the Air Depot title was changed to IX Troop Carrier Service Wing (Provisional), but C-47 maintenance and repair work continued as before, albeit on a reducing scale, until April 1945.

Handed over to the RAF in June 1945, the station was used mainly for bomb storage until closed in 1948. Inactive until 1956, the site was sold in 1960 and the airfield has since become covered with new trees, planted as Twyford Wood by the Forestry Commission.

The former technical site has been developed as an industrial estate. Parts of the runways and hardstandings still remain, along with the Control Tower in derelict condition plus a few other wartime buildings.

Detailed history

From Debbie Nicholls: "Aircraft of the Troop Carrier Pathfinder School at RAF North Witham took off to spearhead the D-Day airborne assault in a pre-invasion strike. 20 Douglas C-47 Skytrains were the first aircraft into the air that night, the first taking off from North Witham at 21.54 hours precisely, heading for Normandy.

On board were 200 elite and specially trained American paratroopers of the US Army’s 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, with aircraft skimming the Channel at 50ft to keep under enemy radar.

The mission was to parachute behind enemy lines to place visual aids and Eureka radio signalling beacons to help guide in the main invasion aircraft to drop zones (all equipped with Rebecca beacons to receive the Eureka signal).

Within an hour of the North Witham take off, hundreds more heavily troop-laden C-47s left the East Midlands airfields of Cottesmore, Spanhoe, Saltby, Folkingham, Barkston Heath and Fulbeck, heading for Normandy.

Hundreds more flew from airfields in southern England, notably Greenham Common (‘That’s All Brother’)."

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known

Service

People

  • Edward Cannon

    Military | Captain | Surgeon
    Assigned to IX Troop Carrier Command as surgeon. Flew on lead C-47 to drop pathfinders on drop zone A, St-Germain-de-Varreville. 6-Jun-44. Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Harold Coonrod

    Military | Captain | Navigator
    Assigned to IX Troop Carrier Command, 9AF USAAF. Radar Nav for lead aircraft [C-47 42-93098] of lead serial to drop pathfinder paratroops at zone A, St-Germain-de-Varrevill, France on D-day 6-Jun-44. Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Joel Crouch

    Military | Colonel | Pilot
    Pre-war a pilot for United Airlines, flying passengers between Los Angeles and Seattle. Assigned to IX Troop Carrier Command, 9AF USAAF. Flew lead aircraft in the invasion of Sicily Jul-43 and at Salerno, Italy, in Sep-43. As Lt Col piloted lead...

  • William Culp

    Military | Captain | Navigator
    Assigned to IX Troop Carrier Command, 9AF USAAF. Navigator for lead aircraft [C-47 42-93098] of lead serial to drop pathfinder paratroops at zone A, St-Germain-de-Varrevill, France on D-day 6-Jun-44. Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Vito Pedone

    Military | Colonel | Co-pilot
    Initially assigned to 8AF as A-20 bomber pilot, completed 25 x missions on type. Transferred to IX Troop Carrier Command, 9AF USAAF as Operations officer. Co-piloted lead aircraft [C-47 42-93098] of lead serial to drop pathfinder paratroops at zone A,...

Aircraft

  • 42-93098

    C-47 Skytrain
    Assigned to 94TCS, 439TCG, 9AF USAAF. Serial #1 Chalk #1 D-Day - Lead A/C carrying initial stick of pathfinders of 377th PFA, 502nd PIR to drop zone A, St-Germain-de-Varreville [Crew: Pilot Lt Col Joel L Crouch, Co-pilot Capt Vito S Pedone, Nav's Capt...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
17 July 2019 10:07:56 U.S. Embassy-London Changes to history
Sources

This entry was collected by the United States Embassy as part of a campaign to remember the 75th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy (D-Day). Personal stories from veterans and members of the British public were collected to celebrate the sacrifices made in the name of freedom.

Date Contributor Update
17 July 2019 10:03:48 U.S. Embassy-London Changes to usaaf from date, usaaf to date and closure date
Sources

Added details from text to "basic details" section.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:02:17 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Barry Anderson, Army Air Forces Stations (Alabama, 1985) / Roger Freeman, Airfields of the Ninth Then and Now (London, 1994)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_North_Witham

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/wildwoods.nsf/LUWebDocsByKey/EnglandL...

http://www.abct.org.uk/airfields/north-witham

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