Updated: 6 Dec 12
Closed: Mar 1919
Repened: Sep 1943
Closed: May 1945
Airfield code :: KS
ICAO Code ::
Airfield call sign :: PEAKFREAN
Squadrons based here:
33 Sqn :: 1917
625 Sqn :: 1 Oct 1943 - 5 Apr 1945
170 Sqn :: Oct 1944 - 21 Oct 1944
Kelstern (Mill Farm Night Landing Ground) was established in 1917 as a night landing ground at Mill Farm in the Great War for 33 Sqn RFC during their Zeppelin hunts to cater for any fuel emergencies. It closed again in 1919, having been 'barely used'.
In Jul 1942 construction on RAF Kelstern commenced 1/2 mile to the north-west of the Great War relief landing ground. Early on in the war, a night decoy airfield Q Site was constructed near Kelstern village to protect RAF Binbrook from enemy air attack. However, the imminent construction meant that this site had been abandoned by Aug 1942.
In Sep 1943 RAF Kelstern opened as No 12 Base (Binbrook) substation.
625 Sqn formed at the station as its first occupants on 1 Oct 1943, crews being drawn from C Flight 100 Sqn at RAF Grimsby. First operational sorties were conducted on 18 Oct. 625 Sqn in turn provided the core for a re-formed 170 Sqn in Oct 1944 but after flying its first raid on 19 Oct it moved to RAF Dunholme Lodge on 21st.
By April 1945 HQ 1 Gp had concluded a reorganisation and moved 625 Sqn to RAF Scampton. With the inevitable congestion and associated risk of crashes in the overlapping circuits the decision was take not to base any future flying units at Kelstern. The airfield was closed the following month, in May 1945.
RAF Kelstern is now commemorated in a small memorial stone to 625 Sqn at the corner of the road near the old airfield. See "A Brief History of the RAF in Lincolnshire" :: website. The relevant page is linked directly in the column to the right of this page.
The below is an amusing anecdote cited on The Ridgewell Association's Bomber Command History
Most Station Commanders were tour-expired men, who occasionally flew on operations, usually "incognito" and in defiance of orders. Such spirit and example has to be greatly admired. At Kelstern, G/Capt. Donkin, a WW1 veteran, had flown as supernumerary with a 635 Sqdn. [sic] crew on a 1944 Berlin operation, and on return a BBC reporter, broadcasting "live" in the early hours, asked him what it had been like. The great waxed moustaches bristled. "Ai dain't maind telling yew," replied the aristocratic voice, "that Ai was shite-scaired all the way theyah, and Ai was shite-scaired all the way back."
View airfield photographs here.
Map and aerial photo of RAF Kelstern on multimap.com
Buy an aerial photo of RAF Kelstern on GetMapping.com
RAF Kelstern Memorial Stone
RAF Kelstern page on Royal Air Force website
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