RAF Kings Cliffe - Northants - July 2022

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Jul 30, 2017
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This explore was done back in the summer on a truly roasting hot day with a very bright sun making photos quite difficult, and it has taken me a long time to actually get around to writing it up.

The History

This has been covered pretty extensively by some of the other posts on this location, therefoe I will keep this brief. Construction at RAF Kings Cliffe was originally started in 1940, with the airfield partially opening in October 1941 with a grass runway as a satellite base for the nearby RAF Wittering.

The first unit to fly from there was No.133 Squadron equipped with Spitfires, better known as the Eagle Squadron, a squadron of American volunteers who signed up prior to the USA joining the war. A total of 14 different RAF Squadrons were at points based here between October 1941 and December 1942. It was from here that RAF ace Johnnie Johnson was based, recording 5 of his 30+ victories whilst based here.

At the start of 1943, the base was assigned to the USAAF and a various times housed the 347th Fighter Group, 56th Fighter Group, 67th Fighter Wing and the 20th Fighter Group. THe last one became famous for carryout strikes on trains, becoming nicknamed the “Loco Group” and receiving a Distinguished Unit Citation.

Most famously, RAF Kings Cliffe was where American musician Glenn Miller played his last performance prior to going missing over the English Channel in December 1944. Unfortunately, the hanger where he played this performance has long since been demolished, a memorial was erected on the location, but this is now situated inside a newly built ghastly looking caravan holiday park.

After the war, the base was largely decommissioned and used for armament storage, before sold in 1959 and returned to agriculture, which is its current use today.

Little of the WW2 infrastructure still remains, the runway has been broken up, all the hangers removed and most of the buildings, although as few still remain.

I started the explore off by paring my car at the rather grand looking memorial (below) then hopped over a fence that gave warning about impromptu deer cullings and got exploring.

I started off heading straight for the Control Tower right in the middle of the site, and a hot sweaty walk away. This is in very poor condition, with the concrete starting to spall and fall apart in a lot of places but was well worth the effort.





Just outside the Control Tower was the airfield's telecoms building, or Private Branch Exchange (PBX) which was not particularly exciting.


Moving back across the airfield, occasionally having to duck into the trees to avoid the farmer who kept zipping about in their 4x4, I came across some sort of storage building

Before coming to what I was most excited by, the mushroom pillbox which was hidden away in a field full of crops




Making my way back towards the car I came across some remainin aircraft pens which were designed to be simple blast proof protective areas to store the fighters:





As part of the arcraft pen, there was what appears to be a bomb shelter as well which was a nice sopt to hide out fromthe sun for a few minutes


Finally before heading back to the car, I stuck my head into one of the survining sleeping shelters, which had a partially collapsing roof




And then back to the car to cool down in the airconditioning. Its a big site this, covering all of these bits meant about 5km of walking in total, but worth it.
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Kilted Mac

Well-known member
Nov 30, 2018
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Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Great photos of a superb place, the sunshine made for good photos. I really liked that "Mushroom" pillbox, it is in very good condition too, we don't seem to get those in our part of the UK.

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