Our History

 

73 years ago on the night of 26/27 April 1944, 106 Sqn suffered one of their greatest losses of WWII in a single night.

Five aircraft from 106 Squadron were lost. They had taken off from RAF Metheringham as part of a larger task force consisting of an additional 201 Avro Lancasters and 11 Mosquitoes from 5 Group and an additional 9 Lancasters of 1 Group. Their mission: to bomb a ball bearing plant.

The aircraft lost were: JB601, ME669, JB562, ND850, ND853. Out of 36 crew members (one a/c was carrying a second pilot) 22 were killed, 10 were taken POWs and 4 Evaded.

Crew members on that night were:

JB601:

Pilot: S/L A O Murdoch

Pilot: 2 Sgt R Bradley

F/Eng: Sgt L Izod

Nav: Sgt H Clark

Air Bomber: F/S W Evans

W/OP: P/O W Collins

MUG: Sgt E Hatch

RG: Sgt John Rees

 

NB853:

Pilot: P/O C Bishop

F/Eng: Sgt HR Healey

Nav: F/S DR Burns

Air Bomber: Sgt Pickstone

W/OP: Sgt PJ Daw

MUG: P/O HA Brad

RG: P/O WG Stevens

 

NB850:

Pilot: P/O WG Fraser

F/Eng: Sgt DA Simpson

Nav: WO GA Collins

Air Bomber: P/O HT Peebles

W/OP: Sgt A McKenzie

MUG: P/O JAD Mohat

RG: F/S JO Keenan

 

JB562:

Pilot: P/O E Harper

F/Eng: Sgt H Wild

Nav: P/O PJBM Madore

Air Bomber: F/O JB Steggles

W/OP: Sgt SR Reeve

MUG: W/O G Bryson

RG: Sgt FPR Callaway

 

ME669:

Pilot: F/O F Miffin

F/Eng: Sgt NC Jackson VC

Nav: F/S FL Higgins

Air Bomber: F/S MH Toft

W/OP: F/S E Sandelands

MUG: Sgt Smith

RG: F/S NH Johnson

 

Jackson VCNorman Jackson was one crew member of MS 669, who subsequently received the VC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SL Anthony O'Shea Murdoch

New Zealander Sqn Ldr Anthony O’Shea Murdoch aged 28 was Pilot of JB 601

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During 1942, around 600 acres of farmland and woods were cleared to create a new airfield for 5 Group Bomber Command. It was situated at the junction of the B1192 and the B1189, near the village of Martin. The airfield opened in 1943 and 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 was soon to become home to 106 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, (left is a photo of 59 model Lancasters each one depicting a lost 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. Living quarters, stores, social and worship areas, administration blocks and a sick bay were located apart from the airfield proper for security reasons and 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.

RunwayAt 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 site is used today by the Friends of Metheringham Airfield who have converted one of the stores into a Visitor Centre which houses the 106 Squadron Museum. 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.

Inside the gymnasium.The gymnasium (which originally doubled as a C of E Church) is used by the Friends 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.