RAF Shipton


Royal Air Force Shipton (more commonly known as RAF Shipton) was a First World War era airfield located north of the village of Shipton-by-Beningbrough, in North Yorkshire, England. During the First World War, it was used by No. 76 Squadron RAF whose remit was to provide Home Defence (HD).

RAF Shipton

The bunker at Shipton
Airport typeMilitary
OwnerAir Ministry
OperatorRoyal Air Force
LocationShipton-by-Beningbrough, North Yorkshire
OpenedSeptember 1918
Elevation AMSL46 ft / 14 m
Coordinates54°02′55″N 1°10′20″W / 54.0485°N 1.1721°W / 54.0485; -1.1721
RAF Shipton is located in North Yorkshire
RAF Shipton
RAF Shipton
Location within North Yorkshire

The site was utilised by the RAF in the Second World War as a base for No. 60 Maintenance Unit and in the Cold War as a fighter control site for No. 12 Group RAF, and command bunker in case of a nuclear event. The bunker site buildings are still extant, though they were sold into private hands in the 1990s.

History Edit

First World War Edit

RAF Shipton was brought into use in September 1916 as a landing site for No. 76 (Home Defence) Squadron, RAF. The site is 4 miles (6.4 km) south east of RAF Linton-on-Ouse, 5 miles (8 km) north of York,[1] and 1.9 miles (3 km) north of Shipton by Beningbrough village.[2] No. 76 Squadron had their headquarters at Ripon[3] and like many other of the relief landing grounds they operated, it is unsure whether or not Shipton saw any flying activity. After the Armistice, the RAF disposed of the site in March 1919.[4]

Second World War Edit

It was resurrected in the Second World War as a base for No. 60 Maintenance Unit (originally No. 5 Salvage Unit)[5] who were required to strip everything of scrap value down for components that could be used. They had a remit to recover crashed aircraft as part of their recovery process, and for a while, the guard hut at Shipton was the upturned fuselage of a wrecked aircraft.[6] The area of responsibility that No. 60 MU covered included the North York Moors, the Peak District, and as far north as Blyth in Northumberland when they went to recover a crashed Luftwaffe aircraft from the harbour area.[7][8][9] No. 60 MU recovered a crashed Halifax from Whernside which was scattered over a wide area. The crash occurred in December 1943 and the extreme cold and elevated location made the recovery very difficult, but all valuable parts were returned to the main site at Shipton by 6 January 1944.[10] During this time, Shipton was used as a scatter airfield[note 1] for the Whitley Bombers of No. 58 Squadron from nearby Linton-on-Ouse. The Whitleys were taken there to spread out the number of aircraft across a wider geographical area in case of an enemy raid at Linton.[13]

In 1946, No. 60 MU withdrew from the site and moved to RAF Rufforth,[14] although there is possible evidence that they had a small operation still ongoing at Shipton until 1959, when the headquarters was confirmed as being at RAF Church Fenton.[15]

Cold War Edit

As part of Britains' early warning defence programme (known as ROTOR), a bunker with three levels was built at the north west corner of the airfield site in 1953.[16] Initially, the operations were run from Imphal Barracks in York,[17] but when the bunker was commissioned in 1954, the control was transferred to Shipton.[18] Shipton was one of six Sector Operations Centres (SOCs) dotted around Great Britain, (the other five being at Barnton Quarry in Edinburgh, Bawburgh near Norwich, Box in Wiltshire, Goosnargh near Preston and Kelvedon Hatch in Essex).[19][20]

The initial role of the SOC was to direct air operations and counter-inception flights in the eastern side of England. Reports were fed into the site from radar stations dotted along the eastern coast of England. As befitting its air defence role, it was the headquarters of the northern sector (No. 12 Group Fighter Command)[21] and was in overall command of 19, 66, 92, 152, 264, 275, 607, 608 and 609 Squadrons spread out between the airfields at Church Fenton, Linton-on-Ouse, Ouston and Thornaby.[22] During this period, some of the staff were drawn from the West Riding numbered Fighter Control Unit, No. 3609 Squadron.[23]

The site itself consisted of the main bunker complex, a guardhouse and a standby living accommodation, though the main living quarters were at the nearby base of RAF Linton-on-Ouse.[24] The site was only the lead SOC for three years before the centre at RAF Boulmer assumed primacy in 1957.[25] During the 1970s, 80s and 90s, the bunker was a Regional Seat of Government (RSG),[26] which later changed to the designation of Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ).[27] A fourth floor was added in 1976 as part of a five-year refurbishment programme.[20]

A decision was taken in 1992 to sell off some of the nuclear bunkers deemed unnecessary after the end of the Cold War; Shipton was one of them,[28] with closure coming in 1993[24] and disposal in 1996.[18]

Notes Edit

  1. ^ A Scatter Airfield was an early Second World War system where large amounts of aircraft were flown to airfields away from their primary squadron home airbase so that if one of the locations was attacked, the aircraft losses would be minimised. It was assumed that intelligence gathered by the enemy would know the locations of individual squadrons and so many locations used their scatter, or satellite landing grounds to disperse their aircraft.[11][12]

References Edit

  1. ^ Chorlton, Martyn (2014). Forgotten aerodromes of World War I : British military aerodromes, seaplane stations, flying-boat and airship stations to 1920. Manchester: Crecy. p. 172. ISBN 9780859791816.
  2. ^ "290" (Map). York. 1:25,000. Explorer. Ordnance Survey. 2015. ISBN 9780319244876.
  3. ^ Halley, James J (1980). The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Tonbridge: Air-Britain. p. 361. ISBN 0-85130-083-9.
  4. ^ "Shipton - Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust UK". www.abct.org.uk. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  5. ^ "5 Salvage Centre, formed at Tollerton September 1939; later became 60 Maintenance Unit". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  6. ^ Otter 2003, p. 287.
  7. ^ Wotherspoon, Nick; Clark, Alan; Sheldon, Mark (2009). Aircraft wrecks : the walker's guide : historic crash sites on the moors and mountains of the British Isles. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Aviation. p. 200. ISBN 978-1-84415-9109.
  8. ^ Norman, Bill (2002). Broken eagles 2 : Luftwaffe losses over Northumberland and Durham, 1939-1945. Barnsley: Leo Cooper. p. 41. ISBN 0-85052-913-1.
  9. ^ Ranter, Harro. "Accident Airspeed Oxford Mk I LX518, 18 Oct 1943". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  10. ^ Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore (1982). Action stations 4 (2 ed.). Letchworth: Stephens. p. 171. ISBN 0-85059-532-0.
  11. ^ "Glossary letter S". abct.org.uk. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  12. ^ Philpott, Ian M (2008). The Royal Air Force : an encyclopaedia of the inter-war years. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. p. 264. ISBN 978-1-84415-391-6.
  13. ^ Bean, Dan (14 April 2011). "Bombing raid mystery is solved at RAF Linton-on-Ouse". York Press. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  14. ^ Delve 2006, p. 223.
  15. ^ Delve 2006, p. 305.
  16. ^ Twigge, Stephen; Scott, Len (2000). Planning Armageddon : Britain, the United States and the command of Western nuclear forces 1945-1964. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic. p. 270. ISBN 90-5823-006-6.
  17. ^ "Sources for the Study of Sheffield and the Cold War, 1945 - 1991" (PDF). sheffield.gov.uk. January 2013. p. 4. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  18. ^ a b McCamley, Nick (2013). Cold War secret nuclear bunkers : the passive defence of the Western World during the Cold War. Barnsley: Leo Cooper. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-78303-010-1.
  19. ^ Laurie, Peter (1979). Beneath the city streets : a private enquiry into government preparations for national emergency. London: Panther. p. 253. ISBN 0-586-05055-8.
  20. ^ a b "Shipton Rotor Radar SOC and RGHQ – Subterranea Britannica". www.subbrit.org.uk. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  21. ^ Spence, Norman (1987). Watchers over the broad acres : the story of the Royal Observer Corps in Yorkshire. Harrogate: Ramsay. p. 88. ISBN 0-9512290-0-7.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: ignored ISBN errors (link)
  22. ^ Delve, Ken (2005). Bomber Command 1939-1945 : a reference to the men - aircraft & operational history. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Aviation. p. 339. ISBN 9781844151837.
  23. ^ Beaumont, Bill (24 October 1995). Hunter, A F C (ed.). "Fighter Command and the Air Defence of Great Britain". Royal Air Force Historical Society. London (16A): 135. ISBN 0951-9824-6X.
  24. ^ a b Historic England. "Shipton Sector Operations Centre (1489559)". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  25. ^ Historic England. "RAF Boulmer (1488866)". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  26. ^ "Regional Government Headquarters 2.1 Shipton By Beningbrough, Huby". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  27. ^ "Civil Defence: From the First World War to the Cold War" (PDF). historicengland.org.uk. October 2016. p. 18. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  28. ^ "Government Bunkers - Hansard". hansard.parliament.uk. Retrieved 3 September 2019.

Sources Edit

  • Delve, Ken (2006). Northern England : Co. Durham, Cumbria, Isle of Man, Lancashire, Merseyside, Manchester, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Yorkshire. Marlborough: Crowood. ISBN 1-86126-809-2.
  • Otter, Patrick (2003). Yorkshire Airfields in the Second World War. Newbury: Countryside Books. ISBN 1-85306-542-0.

External links Edit

  • Diagram of typical bunker layout