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Westland Lysander Mark I of No. 5 Group Communications Flight at RAF Spitalgate
|IATA: none – ICAO: none|
|Operator||Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force|
|Elevation AMSL||415 ft / 126 m|
Originally named RFC Station Grantham and later RAF Station Grantham. Decommissioned and closed in 1976.
Flying training establishment and Flying Training Command.
RAF Spitalgate formerly known as RFC Station Grantham and RAF Station Grantham was a Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force station, located 2 mi (3.2 km) south east of the centre of Grantham, Lincolnshire, England fronting onto the main A52 road.
The station opened in 1915 as Royal Flying Corps Station Grantham, becoming RAF Station Grantham on 1 April 1918 - a name it bore until 1942 when it was renamed as RAF Station Spitalgate. Throughout the First World War the station was a flying training facility and headquarters of No. 21 Group RAF, RAF Flying Training Command. The main lodging unit was No. 12 Flying Training School RAF with further elements at the satellite station at RAF Harlaxton. Flying training continued at RAF Grantham during the inter-war years.
RAF Spitalgate should not be confused with HQ of No. 5 Group that was located in a large private house, St Vincents Hall, Grantham from October 1937 to November 1943 and also known as RAF Grantham during its final years there. Also in November 1943, elements of the HQ IX Troop Carrier Command of the USAAF were relocated to RAF Spitalgate, with their headquarters at St Vincents in the town centre. The station was also the training and point-of departure airfield for the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade during Operation Market Garden.
The station was an Officer Cadet Training Unit (OCTU) in the 1950s. Much later it became the Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) Depot, responsible for the recruitment and training of all non-commissioned females in the RAF, until this moved to RAF Hereford and later again to RAF Swinderby. It was also the home of the Central Gliding School which moved to RAF Syerston in March 1975. The site is not part of Grantham, but the parish of Londonthorpe & Harrowby Without.
Spitalgate acted as a parent station for a relief landing ground four miles further south at RAF Harlaxton from November 1916 until 1945.
As RAF Grantham, the base served as HQ for the raid on the Ruhr dams of Germany in May 1943. Among others, Air Marshal Harris and Barnes Wallis, the innovator of the raid utilizing "skip" type bombs, monitored communications from the mission air crews throughout the night of the raid while at Grantham.
- Bruce Barrymore Halpenny Action Stations: Wartime Military Airfields of Lincolnshire and the East Midlands v. 2 (ISBN 978-0850594843)