The rich aviation heritage of South Kesteven

Did you know just how much military history our district has, and why it's so important to support Armed Forces Week?

Harking back to WWI and the era of 'those magnificent men in their flying machines', RAF Spitalgate played a vital role along with numerous grass air strips across South Kesteven including Harlaxton and Buckminster.

Its first use was as a training aerodrome for the Royal Flying Corps and it retained its training role through to and during WWII with heavy bombers including Harvard aircraft.

In 1976 it became a Territorial Army barracks and was re-named the Prince William of Gloucester Barracks the next year.  It's now home for the Royal Logistic Corps and the Army Training Regiment (Grantham) Army Reserve.

Wyndham Park in Grantham has links to the Machine Gun Corps going back over a hundred years The park still retains the Memorial Arch, through which some 18,000 men of the Machine Gun Corps marched on their way to training at Belton Park during WWl before deployment worldwide.

It is also the home of the Heroes Commemorative Orchard, a living tribute to British forces and their wartime allies. Planted to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, and Grantham and district's role in D-Day and Arnhem, it is an iconic memorial of the wartime sacrifice made by the armed forces.

In 1943, with Britain besieged by the Nazi threat, St Vincent's Hall in Grantham was the nerve centre for the audacious bombing raid on German's industrial heartland - a raid credited with turning the course of the war.

Now a private residence, this house was Bomber Command's No 5 Group HQ between October 1937 and November 1943. The night of May 16-17, 1943, saw bouncing bomb inventor Barnes Wallis waiting there for news as 617 Squadron's Lancaster bombers struck dams in the Ruhr Valley. Operation Chastise was later immortalised in the film "The Dam Busters". 

Moving to September 1944, troops of the 1st Airborne Division left for Arnhem from RAF Barkston Heath as part of Operation Market Garden - the allies' ill-fated attempt to seize bridges over the Rhine at Arnhem.

Airborne units trained locally and thousands of men, carried by aircraft of the United States Army Air Force 9th Troop Carrier Command, left South Lincolnshire from Barkston Heath and Saltby airfields.