Metheringham Airfield was constructed in 1942 and opened in 1943. To do so, around 600 acres of farmland and woods were cleared near the village of Martin.
Today the site is dedicated to the men and women who served at RAF Metheringham from November 1943 until the end of the Second World War.
The airfield was of a standard layout. Having a main runway, aligned almost due North/South of 2000 yards with two intersecting runways of 1400 yards. Although far from complete, it soon became home to 106 Bomber Squadron which, despite having only a week to settle in, was operational in time for the opening of the Battle of Berlin. RAF Metheringham went to war in 1943 with the first sortie on 26th November, destination Berlin.
With fog over the landing site causing more casualties than enemy action, the airfield was one of four Lincolnshire airfields fitted with FIDO (Fog Intensive Dispersal Operation) in 1944. This system used petrol burners along the main runway to literally burn off the fog. Although expensive to operate, FIDO saved many aircraft and the lives of their crews.
The war in Europe was over just eighteen months later and having flown over two hundred operations and suffered the loss of fifty nine aircraft, the Squadron then prepared to depart for war in the Far East as part of the ‘Tiger Force’. Within six months of the end of the war with Japan in September 1945, the Squadron disbanded. Of no further use to the RAF, the airfield was closed in the spring of 1946.
At its peak, about 2500 people worked at the site which consisted of living quarters, stores, social and worship areas, administration blocks and a sick bay. Scores of buildings, many of the Nissen Hut style, were erected. They were built to last ten years and not surprisingly, very few remain today. Since the area was returned to farming most have been dismantled or collapsed under the rigours of the English weather.
The Present Day
At the present time, all that remains of the main airfield site is one of the shorter runways, which has been reduced in width and incorporated into the public road system, and part of the perimeter track. The outline of the other two runways is, however, still visible from the air. A little apart is a communal site which comprised the NAAFI, gymnasium, shops, a squash court and rations stores. This is where the visitor centre is situated.
In an adjacent room is the Dutch Crash Site tableau, furnished with Lancaster parts excavated by our many Dutch friends. The latest refurbishment of the museum introduces our new Lancaster exhibition which can be found in the Cary Powell memorial room. This presents the visitor with an opportunity to visit the individual crew positions in order to learn about the equipment and training involved to operate the legendary Avro Lancaster bomber during World War Two. A new museum audio system also compliments the new displays by providing background sounds familiar to a 1940’s airfield. A more recent building houses the reception centre and shop.
The Gymnasium at RAF Metheringham
The gymnasium (which originally doubled as a C of E Church) is used for larger gatherings such as our well attended lectures, Squadron reunions and other events. An annexe to this building, once the Roman Catholic Church, is now used as a 1940s schoolroom. The building takes a major part in our open weekends. We have acquired a quarter scale ex-flying model Lancaster Bomber (possibly the largest in the world at twenty five and a half feet wingspan) which forms the centrepiece of the gymnasium displays and has been painted with the insignia of two famous 106 aircraft. After being used for agriculture after the war, the gymnasium was taken over by the Friends in the early 1990s and was restored ten years ago.