South West Lincolnshire has a proud history of aviation endeavour, from World War I to World War II and on to the Cold War.
2019 sees 75th anniversary commemorations of two momentous airborne allied milestones, the D-Day invasion of Normandy in June 1944 and the September offensive to capture key Dutch bridges, known simply as Arnhem.
Both have left lasting legacies within South Kesteven.
D-Day actually started at RAF North Witham, then United States Army Air Force station 479 near Colsterworth, when an elite group of Pathfinder paratroopers took off for Normandy at 21.54 on 5 June on a top-secret pre-invasion mission.
Carried by Douglas C-47 Skytrains of 1X Troop Carrier Pathfinder Force, men of the US Amy’s 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were dropped behind enemy lines to set up Eureka radio signalling devices to help guide oncoming aircraft to drop zones.
Two walks are being staged with aviation experts in what is now Forestry Commission owned Twyford Wood near Colsterworth – the first on 5 June – to trace the airfield history and what happened that night.
In September the focus moves to St Vincent’s Church in Caythorpe, and its unique status as a shrine to airborne forces.
Since 1944, when Parachute Signals Squadron adopted the church as its spiritual home during training for Arnhem, the church has amassed a fascinating collection of airborne forces memorabilia, including stained glass windows, the last battle order from Oosterbeck Church and an Arnhem aisle and carpet.
Our Heritage of Flight publications record airfield sites, inspire imaginations and encourage people to ponder the history on our doorstep – reflecting abiding memories from another era and the huge debt of gratitude owed to service personnel from across the globe who served here in South Kesteven.
Watch our video harking back to the eve of D-Day – and the mid-air training collision over Lincolnshire that killed seven combat decorated veterans and Major Jerry, the pilot’s Dalmatian dog and canine forces celebrity.
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