World War II (1942-1945)

The story of RAF Worksop began in July 1942 when the Air ministry requisitioned land from the Osberton Estate.  The airfield was one of 93 built by construction company George Wimpey & Co. under the 680 General Construction Company, Royal Engineers and was designed as a 'Class A' bomber base with three intersecting runways.  Wimpeys first fully built base was at RAF Great Rissington in 1936 and they also constructed RAF Biggin Hill, RAF Northolt, RAF Leuchars, RAF Lulsgate and RAF Tangmere.  The cost of building an airfield varied dramatically for example their construction fees for RAF Gamston were £468,000, RAF Waddington £360,000 whilst RAF Snitterfield cost a staggering £1,147,000.

Buildings consisted of a two storey 12779/41 type Watch Office (control tower) with roof access which was later modified to 343/43 type with medium sized windows, two 240ft long by 115ft wide T2 aircraft hangars with 36 spectacle hardstandings for heavy bombers and accommodation built north-east of the airfield along Thievesdale Lane for the RAF and WAAF personnel.  The Type D pattern High Explosive bomb stores/rolling dumps (567/43 or 1212/43) for the airfield were located south-west of East Thievesdale Wood straddling the road. There would have also been blast banks to protect the aircrews outside the dumps from injury if there was an explosion.  There would have also been a fuse store and fuel storage facilities

The new base was intended as a satellite site for RAF Finningley along with RAF Bircotes.  

The runways were made of concrete slabs overlaid with asphalt with the surrounding ground cleared of obstructions, flattened and overlaid with grass. The main runway '28/10' was aligned at 280 degrees and 2000 yards long, this would have be aligned to the prevailing wind and had some sort of lighting, The other two were angled at 220 degrees (22/04) and 340 degrees (34/16) both at 1400 yards long. surrounding the airfield was a perimeter track. 

It was given RAF Pundit Code 'WP' and at one time hade the call sign 'Davidson'.

The airfield construction began in March 1943 and on 23rd September 1943 the air Ministry sent an Air Commodore to inspect the construction, this also brought about the first plane to land on the base; a Percival Proctor.  The airfield was ready for use on 7th November.

On 11th November 93 Groups 18 (Polish) Operational Training Unit arrived with Wellington bombers.  They had moved to RAF Finningley from RAF Bramcote and intended to use Worksop and Bircotes as their satellite bases. The whole squadron initially moved to the airfield as Finningley was closed for the laying of concrete runways. 18 OTU formed in May 1940 to train pilots for the four Polish RAF squadrons serving in Britain. 

When formed, the OTU had 54 Wellingtons and 9 Avro Ansons but by the time it moved to Finningley it had reduced to one flight due to the small number of Polish aircrews available, by this time the OTU also had four Hawker Hurricanes to give the trainees knowledge of night fighter attacks.  In 1944 the base had 112 Officers of which 10 were WAAF and 1846 other personnel which included 210 WAAF. In October 1944 it moved over to 91 Group.The Poles were also trained on Tomahawks, Oxfords, Martinets and eventually Hurricanes. 

The Wellingtons seem to have had many problems with engines, which in turn also stoped the hydralulics controlling the landing gear from operating.  On one occasion Flight Officer A C Hicks and Stan Yule, who later became a DFC, crashed their Wellington at the airbase after an engine failed just after take off.  

In December 1944 most of the Pilots moved to 10 OTU at RAF Abingdon whilst the last trainees stayed at Worksop to complete their courses which they completed on 30th January 1945. BBC Archive on training at RAF Worksop here. Codes used by the squadron were XW and VQ. Quite a few RCAF crew also seem to have trained with the squadron. Training involved being buzzed by Hawker Hurricanes used to train gunners at defending against night fighters, dropping 'Nickle' (propaganda leaflets) and 'Window' (silver foil to confuse radar) over occupied countries as an introduction to 'live' missions.

The training of the mainly Polish aircrew took part on the 850 acre bombing range at RAF Misson dropping 4 pound Incendiary Bombs and 250 pound Target Indicator cases.  RAF Misson later became a Bristol Bloodhound I missile base with 121 Wing's 94 Squadron in October 1960 as part of the 'East Coast missile belt' and its proximity to the RAF Finningley 'V' bomber base before disbanding on 30 June 1963 (the site was also used to scrap aircraft before being sold off by the MoD in 1995 and is now used to sell old MOD equipment). There was also a bombing range at Rufford in Clipstone Shroggs where bombers aimed at concrete targets - this site is now Sherwood Pines.

The Bomber Command Analysis School was also based at Worksop with pupils being taught how to use the gyro stabilised Mark.XIV Bombsight (or Blackett sight after its inventor)

Regular landings from aircraft from other squadrons on the airbase would have been regular:
Wellington X HE749 from 84 OTU crashed after overshooting the runway on 3rd February 1944.  The plane had a live bombload and this exploded on crashing killing all the crew: Flight Sergeant Colin Arthur Harrison. RNZAF, Pilot Officer Clifford Craven Lumby, Sergeant Howard Leighon Mein. RCAF, Flight Officer John Waring, Sgt John Robinson Ballantyne, Sergeant Kenneth Buckler Lewis and Flight Sergeant Sgt A.E.W.Budden.Harrison and Mein are buried at Harrogate,Stonefall Cemetery. Lumby is buried at Eccleshill, waring is at Mount St. marys college churchyard, Ballentyne is buried at Mickley St George graveyard and Lewis is buried at aspenden St Mary churchyard.
On 7th June 1944, a Hawker Hurricane from 82 OTU, LP345 crashed at Worksop after its undercarriage collapsed on landing. The pilot was alright. (Serial matches back to a Wellington from 192 Squadron however!)
On 6th August 1944 13 Lancasters were diverted from their airbases with a further 128 landing at other airfields in the area. Bomber Command Instructor School run Wellington X HF514 crash landed on the airfield on 21st March 1945 after an engine stalled.
Mitchell II FL183 from 2 Group Supprt Unit crashed near the airbase on 25th February 1945 after hitting some trees during bad visibility (yet to ascertain if bound for airbase). - seems to have comedown in Clumber Park killing W/O (Airgunner) Frank A. Russell and Cyril. N Carpenter

After this only small units operated out of the airfield.  The first to move in was the Engine Control Demonstration Unit who moved in during March 1945 and stayed until they disbanded on 28th September. This unit was mainly involved with development and training of personnel on various engines used by the RAF at the time.  Various training appliances were used such as sectioned engines and aircraft equiped with flowmeters. Aircraft based at Worksop during this time included Lancasters, Beaufighters and Wellingtons.  This included engine management and fuel efficiency. 1ECDU was formed in 1942 at RAF Bassingbourne and was based there between 14th September and 2nd October 1942.  They became part of RAF Costal Commands 1674 Heavy Conversion Unit, 17 Group under Sqn Ldr Freke at RAF Great Orton in 1943. It moved to RAF Westcott  before going to RAF Inverness between 19th October and 17th November 1943 before moving to RAF Aldergrove between 19th December 1943 and 12th April 1944. They were also based at RAF Mildenhall and eventually RAF Angle in April 1944.