A closure parade was held at RAF Scampton to celebrate the rich history of the base, before the curtain drops on the century-old site.
RAF Scampton will close by the end of 2022, as confirmed by the Ministry of Defence last year, with personnel being deployed elsewhere – including the Red Arrows, which will stay in Lincolnshire and move across to RAF Waddington.
The parade on Monday, September 5, marked 106 years of history at RAF Scampton, exploring the pivotal role of the Lincolnshire base during times of war and peace in equal measure.
The base closure is a momentous one. It will see the famous Red Arrows move to RAF Waddington, after over two decades occupying a spot at Scampton.
The RAF hope that this move will be completed this autumn, with personnel fully cleared by March 31, 2023 (the vacant possession date for the land).
The parade itself included a flypast from both the Red Arrows and a Lancaster Bomber, showcasing the very best of what RAF Scampton has had to offer the Royal Air Force as a whole.
The flyover was matched with a marching parade by military personnel at the base and the Band of the Royal Air Force College, as the last official event in RAF Scampton’s illustrious history drew to a close.
Flt Lt Jo Ewing, the media and communications officer at RAF Scampton, said she felt a “real sense of pride” being involved in the closure parade, which she called a reminder of the “courage and sacrifice” from those who came before.
Flt Lt Ewing said: “Everybody has been delighted to celebrate our history, embrace change and move forward into the next Royal Air Force generation.
“Scampton is very important and today offered a real sense of pride, seeing the Lancaster reminds you of the courage and sacrifice of those who came before.
“It’s great to be able to celebrate others who walked this ground and have influenced the future.”
Questions were also asked about the future of the site, as well as when full closure of the base can be expected. Flt Lt Ewing said the RAF were “still in discussions” over what the future holds, but assured us that morale in the camp was still very good despite what is naturally a big change.
It still has not been confirmed what will happen to the base once it closes, though West Lindsey District Council is inviting bids from developers and investors to become a delivery partner in a proposed £300 million redevelopment of the site.
History of RAF Scampton
There are seldom few RAF bases with a more glittering history than that of Scampton. Opened in 1916 as a direct response to the threat of Zeppelins, it stands on the site of a First World War Royal Flying Corps landing field.
The site had to close and return to its agricultural roots following the end of the First World War, before being reactivated as an RAF base during Hitler’s rise in Germany in the 1930s.
It is during the Second World War where the base truly stepped into a league of its own, housing Squadron X in 1943 – which you will better know as the now iconic 617 Squadron.
Led by Guy Gibson and utilising the bouncing bomb designed by Barnes Wallis, the 617 played a crucial role in ensuring Allied victory in the Second World War.
RAF Scampton is the only Air Force station in the country to have earned three Victoria Cross awards, and it has even been home to nuclear weaponry in the late 1950s and the Vulcan Bomber Force during the Cold War.
It wouldn’t be an RAF Scampton history lesson without a mention of the Red Arrows – the Royal Air Force’s Aerobatic Display Team with such an essential place in the culture of the United Kingdom.
The Reds moved to Scampton in 1983, when the base became the Central Flying School headquarters. They temporarily left in 1995 to go to RAF Cranwell as the base closed as an economy measure – but returned in December 2000 and have been there ever since.
That illustrious reign inside RAF Scampton will soon end, however, and what better way than for the Red Arrows to have completed their busiest summer schedule since 2018 – performing over 70 summer shows this year.