RAF Skipton on Swale
The Airfield is located four miles west of Thirsk in North Yorkshire and was one of the closely packed bomber stations in the Vale of York. It was a Royal Air Force air station operated by RAF Bomber Command during World War Two. The site catered for 1,924 males and 166 females when it was opened in August 1942, and became operational in May 1943
Originally RAF Skipton on Swale was intended for No.4 Group but, received No.420 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and its Wellington bombers. These were transferred from No. 1 Group at Weddington in preparation for joining the planned RCAF group. RCAF squadrons stationed here included 424 Squadron, recently returned from North Africa to re-equip with Halifax’s. Officially born at RAF Skipton on Swale, on May Day 1943 No. 432 Squadron started operations with Wellingtons on the night on the 23rd May.
Nos. 424 and 433 Squadrons were disbanded in October 1945 and in November 1946 No. 300 Polish Bomber Squadron moved in and disbanded here on 2 January 1947.
In the village a Cairn has been erected in memory of the August 1944 crash of a Halifax Bomber Halifax BM-H (MZ828) and reads
ON THIS SITE IN AUGUST 1944 A DISABLED ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE HALIFAX III BOMBER CRASHED ON RETURN FROM A BOMBING MISSION. RESULTING IN THE DEATHS OF TWO CREW MEMBERS AND ONE CIVILIAN. THIS CAIRN IN THE SHADE OF A CANADIAN MAPLE TREE IS ERECTED TO HONOUR ALL WHO THOSE WHO SERVED WITH THE RCAF SIX GROUP SQUADRONS AT SKIPTON ON SWALE DURING WWII AND THE MANY CIVILIANS WHO SUPPORTED THEM. MAY THEIR ENTERPRISE, COURAGE AND DEVOTION TO DUTY BE REMEMBERED AND SERVE AS AN INSPIRATION TO ALL.
DEDICATED MAY 19, 1984 BY A GROUP INCLUDING GRATEFUL SURVIVORS
“THIS WAS THEIR FINEST HOUR”
The civilian was Kenneth Battensby a 5-year-old boy who was killed in the plane crash when he was showered with debris from the crash. The Halifax Bomber was returning damaged from a mission overseas. The Halifax III missed the runway and crashed into the bridge. Ops Report Aug 5, 1944
98 bombers were lost in operations flying from Skipton on Swale