North Coates airfield was established in 1916 as a forward landing ground for No33 Home Night Defence Sqdn Royal Flying Corp. The squadron’s task was to intercept German Zeppelins. The Admiralty also used North Coates, then known as the Fitties as an important staging post for Royal Naval Air Service aircraft transiting north. Towards the end of WW1 the task had switched to U-Boat searches. At the end of the conflict the land reverted back to farm use.In 1926 it re opened as an Armaments practice Camp and used by most of the RAF Bomber Squadrons as a base whilst they conducted bombing trials on the nearby Donna Nook and Theddlethorpe ranges, this continues until 1939. In 1940 the word ‘Fitties’ was dropped from the title and North Coates came under the control of Coastal Command. The war was taken to the enemy from the start, aircraft such as the Blenheim, Beaufort, Hudson and Hampden in addition to a couple of Royal Navy Swordfish squadrons became the mainstay of the effort to prevent shipping bringing vital supplies to the German war front. In 1943 the Bristol Beaufighter came on the scene and North Coates became the first airfield to host the RAFs Strike Wing who used a combination of cannons, torpedo’s and rockets to such deadly effect that enemy shipping was forced to sail only at night. During the conflict 509 airmen lost their lives and 95 were decorated for bravery including P/O Kenneth Campbell of 22 Sqdn who was awarded the posthumous VC for his attack on the German capital ship Gneisenau..Post war the airfield was used for aircraft storage and scrapping until 1954 when it became a Helicopter Air sea Rescue base. 275 Sqdn carried out many rescues during their 5 year stay flying the Bristol Sycamore. In December 1958 North Coates became the trials base for the Bristol Bloodhound Mk 1 surface to air missile . This was replaced by the Mk 2 in 1965 and remained in service until 1990, throughout that period the airfield was closed for a short while on care and maintenance and was finally closed as an active RAF airfield in 1992.
As and when time allows, we are updating the history section with photographs from our archives.
Things to entertain you about North Coates
The entertainer, the late Max Bygraves started his career here with his popular ‘Chocks Away’ review. He served here as a fitter in 1943/44.
The actor the late Rupert Davies alias ‘ Maigret’ in the TV series of the 1960s served here with 812 Sqdn Royal Navy and became a POW in 1941 when his Swordfish aircraft was shot down.
The Canadian singer and entertainer, the late Edmond Hockridge served with 407 Sqdn here in 1942. After the war he became an international singing star with hit records and reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.