103 and 576 Squadrons + No.13 Base

Airfield History

 Elsham Wolds airfield was situated approximately seven miles north-east of Brigg, to the east of the A15 road, near Elsham village in North Lincolnshire.


The site was first used by one of the used by a Home Defence squadron during World War I, against any air attack of North Lincolnshire or Humberside. The area between the Humber and the Wash had been identified as an entry point for German Zeppelin airships and received its fair share of bombs, although few caused any damage. The first squadrons were mainly equipped with the Avro 504 or the BE2 and facilities at the airfield were primitive. In 1919 the land reverted to agricultural use.


The demand for bomber aerodromes in 1939 led to many former airfields being surveyed to assess suitability for development and Elsham Wolds was chosen as a suitable site. The new airfield was built on the high plateau immediately north east of the village of Elsham to an early war time pattern with a "J" type hanger on the Eastern side of the airfield and much accommodation and technical and administrative facilities grouped behind. Eventually the airfield had three concrete runways, the main one running north-west to south-east.


Elsham Wolds opened as a heavy bomber station as part of 1 Group Bomber Command in July 1941 and, soon after, 103 Squadron moved from their previous home at Newton, near Nottingham, to remain there for the rest of the war. 576 Squadron was formed at the airfield in November 1943 and operated from the airfield until November 1944 when they moved to Fiskerton.


Elsham Wolds gained further importance, when it became the Headquarters of No.13 Base, which provided a local link to 1 Group, controlling the two Squadrons based there and also 166 and 550, based at Kermington (now Humberside Airport) and North Killingholme, respectively.

On 1 April 1945, 100 Squadron arrived and shared it with 103 Squadron until the latter disbanded. When 100 Squadron relocated to Scampton, to join the remnants of 103 and form (a re-designated) 57 Squadron, they were replaced by No 21 HGCU (Heavy Glider Conversion Unit). In 1947 the airfield closed and most of the site eventually reverted to agricultural use.  However, for a short time, the airfield buildings were put to to good use when they became a camp for, mainly Polish, ‘Displaced Persons’ (i.e. refugees) who set up home, until the 1950s, in what became known as “Little Warsaw” or the “Polish Hamlet”.


The main road South from the Humber Bridge now runs through the middle of the former airfield, with a single hanger, on the small industrial estate now established, being the only reminder of what once was.


A water treatment works has also been built on the site, with a Memorial, to 103 and 576 Squadron personnel killed during the war, located outside. The Entrance Hall to the works houses the Honours and Awards Boards for both squadrons and several other items of interest. Two adjacent former offices now house the Association Memorial Room. In 2018, a Marker commemorating the airfield was unveiled by the road next to the hangar.



Squadron History

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