The new International Bomber Command Memorial stands on Canwick Hill to the south of Lincoln. Anticipating the opening of its visitors centre next year and to coincide with the season of Remembrance, this list of churches are just some of those which have connections with the RAF heritage of Lincolnshire and air crew from many countries who are commemorated by memorials and war graves. Lincolnshire is known as Bomber County due to the many RAF Stations, allied air forces and their crews stationed here.

A homecoming beacon

Lincoln Cathedral was a beacon of homecoming for many aircrew during the Second World War and was a vital part of navigation. Three memorial books contain the names of 25,611 men who flew from Royal Air Force Stations in or near Lincolnshire, all of whom were members of the many groups of Bomber Command. There are also four memorial windows. The International Bomber Command Centre Memorial can be seen in the distance.

Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln

Dambusters & Red Arrows

Scampton, St John the Baptist sits on the western edge of the village below RAF Scampton, where the Dambuster raids were flown from and now home to the Red Arrows. There is an RAF chapel in the church with Squadron badges and there are several Commonwealth War Graves in the churchyard, including ones to Australian, New Zealand and Canadian air crew, as well as British. There are also eight graves for a German crew of an aeroplane that was brought down nearby.

St John the Baptist, Scampton

Destroyed in seconds

St Michael’s is built of concrete with Ancaster stone facings outside. It was built on the site of the medieval church, which was destroyed by a bomb on the night of 8th/9th May 1941. The rubble of the church formed a cross shape. The only items that survived were five bells, the hands of the clock, a paten and a ewer. Further bombs fell on the nearby RAF Waddington

St Michael, Waddington

A lantern home

The tower at Boston Stump was used as a marker for travellers on The Fens and in The Wash, and it is commonly believed that it was once lit from inside to act as a land and sea mark. The tower became important again in World War II, when British and American pilots would use the Stump as a signpost to guide them back to base. It also appears that the German Luftwaffe used the tower as a marker. Boston itself suffered very few bombings.

St Botolph, Boston

Battle of Britain

RAF Coningsby is half a mile away and is home to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight as well as being the Main Operating Base for the RAF Southern Typhoons and its two connected squadrons. There are many RAF memorials in the church including a chapel which has been furnished by members and friends of No 83 Pathfinder Squadron. It is dedicated to the memory of those airmen who lost their lives on flying operations from RAF Coningsby in World War II.

St Michael, Coningsby

A memorial remembers

The church was mentioned in the Domesday Book and there is evidence of Roman and Saxon material in the west wall. This large, cruciform church suffered bomb damage on 14th July 1943 when two bombs dropped into the churchyard, destroying the north wall of the transept and damaging most of the glass. In the Memorial Chapel, the World War I memorial was damaged by the bombing and was deliberately left in this state.

St James, Grimsby

Hidden by a hangar

Monksthorpe is a hamlet a couple of miles from Gunby Hall, near Spilsby. Nearby RAF Spilsby was home to Lancaster bombers during World War II, and near the airfield’s huge hangar, but hidden by trees, sits the plain, brick built chapel. In the grounds of the chapel is an obelisk memorial to those who served at the airfield. It is close to the site of the bomb dump fuzing shed, in which ten personnel lost their lives in an explosion in April 1944.

Monksthorpe Baptist Chapel

Together at the end

One of the earliest RAF bases in Lincolnshire was established outside North Coates in 1916. It was closed after the end of the war, then reopened in 1927 as an Armament Practice Camp. In 1940 it was made into a full airfield again, only to close once more in 1947. In the churchyard are 39 war graves, including German, Canadian, Australian, and British service personnel.

St Nicholas, North Coates

BillJims and birdmen

RAF Binbrook was once home to 460 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force and Australians and New Zealanders often visit the village. A close relationship between the parish church and RAF Binbrook led to a window being dedicated to the church when the RAF Station closed in 1988. This stained glass piece was designed and made by Lincoln artist, Glenn Carter.

St Mary with St Gabriel, Binbook

Best blues

Nearby RAF Kirmington was a Class A airfield of the Second World War. Construction began in 1941, and the airfield was opened for use by Bomber Command in summer 1942. In the churchyard is a memorial to 166 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, made up of a propeller blade and hub. Inside the church is a lovely stained glass window featuring the church and multiple Lancaster bombers, also a memorial to 166 Squandron.

St Helena, Kirmington

Yankee homeplate

RAF Goxhill has the distinction of being the very first airfield in England to be handed over to the United States Air Force during World War II. It could not be used by Bomber Command due to the air defences in and around Hull. Spitfires from 616 Squadron did fly from here briefly, but it eventually found use as a training facility for American fighter pilots.

All Saints, Goxhill

For our & your freedom

The Polish Air Force and Royal Air Force served nearby at the former RAF Faldingworth and this is commemorated throughout the church. The church is approached along the path of friendship with red and white block edging one side and red, white and blue brick edging the other side. The porch gates give an impression of a runway and there is a beautiful memorial window in the church with ‘for our and your freedom’ in both English and Polish as well as the two air force logos.

All Saints, Faldingworth

Revealing history

This rural church contains extensive wall paintings that were hidden from view until a World War II bomb dropped nearby disturbed the plaster, which was removed revealing the medieval wall paintings. The building also contains other treasures including a 12th century tub font, a two decker pulpit, a medieval rood screen and pews, graffiti from the 1600’s and an altar rail from the 18th century. Come and see for yourself!

All Saints, Pickworth

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