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Haunted GrimsbyAn exclusive look at Jason Day's Haunted Grimsby:

The Lost Airmen

RAF Waltham was opened as a heavy-bomber station in November 1941. The airfield had previously been a private flying club in the 1930’ and a reserve Flying Training School for the Air Ministry. The new incarnation of the airfield and station was officially named Grimsby although the local name Waltham persisted among locals and servicemen on the station.

During the Second World War the station was home to No.142 and No.100 Squadrons who regularly flew bombing operations from Waltham. The enforced break up of No.142 Squadron followed, leaving only No. 100 Squadron remaining at the base. The No.100 Squadron made Grimsby their home until 2 April 1945 when, owing to deterioration of the runways, a move was made to RAF Elsham Wolds. This marked the end of Bomber Command flying units at the station. Operations from Grimsby saw 164 bombers lost, some fell missing in action while others crashed in the UK; these consisted of forty-eight Wellingtons and 116 Lancasters.

In the immediate post-war years the hangars were used by No.35 Maintenance Unit for storage and the airfield reverted to agricultural use. Eventually the hangars were also decommissioned and reverted to commercial use. In later years, improvements to the A16, with a bypass for Holton-le-Clay, reclaimed part of the eastern side of the base and some of the other land was bought up by property developers. Parts of RAF Waltham still remain to this day; several of the former airfield’s buildings still survive as do, as many reports claim, some of the base’s long-deceased airmen.
One of the earliest reports of paranormal activity to come from the former RAF base involved a property that had been built in 1967 on the old perimeter of the airfield, near to the former location of the main gates. In 1969, the Burchell family lived in a house that was built on the foundations of one of RAF Waltham’s former Nissen huts on Cheapside Road. Late one evening Susan Burchell awoke to find a figure standing in her bedroom. Although startled and shaken, Susan had the presence of mind to reach for her bedside lamp and turn it on to illuminate the darkened room. The light revealed that the figure stood at the foot of her bed was a young, red haired man dressed in the uniform of an airman. The man also appeared to have only one arm, as one sleeve of his jacket was pinned to his shoulder.

Susan lay frozen to her bed as the spectral airman continued to stare at her. Susan began screaming and the figure slowly moved towards a wardrobe and disappeared into it. Her parents were awoken by Susan’s cries and rushed into her bedroom. They searched the house, including the wardrobe and found nothing. They also checked the garden but there was no sign of anybody there either. As far as the family were aware the airman never returned during their occupancy but they moved out of the house shortly afterwards nevertheless.

The location of the Burchell’s home is said to hold the key to the haunting and indeed the phantom airman that haunted it. An airman that served at the base was said to have been declared unfit to fly following injuries he had sustained in previous missions. Severely depressed and immensely unstable, after receiving this news, the airman entered a hut on the base and pulled the pin on a grenade he was holding. The blast killed him immediately and destroyed the building. This was the very building on whose foundations the Burchell home was built.

In nearby Holton-le-Clay, RAF Waltham’s former hangar was also reputed to be haunted. At the time, the building was being used as a storage facility for E.W. Nickerson & Co. staff reported disturbing accounts of paranormal activity. During a night shift one evening, an employee was repairing grain sacks in an ante-room at the end of the hangar. Late into his shift he saw something from the corner of his eye that caught his attention. As he looked up from his work the employee saw the figure of a headless airman in full flying gear pass through the hangar wall into the ante-room where he sat working. Frozen into his seat with fear, the employee watched the airman as he paused for a few seconds directly in front of him and then proceeded to walk across the room and out into the hangar. The terrified employee then jumped from his seat and dashed into the hangar screaming at the top of his voice. His colleagues came to his aid and said that he was in such a state of shock that his hair was actually standing on end. When they managed to calm him down enough to relate his experience to them they searched the hangar for any intruders or even a workmate that may have been playing a practical joke. They found no evidence of either. It would appear that the old hangar was storing something other than machinery, grain and sacks.

These were by no means the only apparitions to have been witnessed in the area, in fact several ghostly airmen are said to have walked along the ageing airstrips and perimeter roads at RAF Waltham over the years.

Several ‘courting couples’ have witnessed shadowy figures and unexplained noises. In 1982, a phantom airman was reportedly seen walking up and down a former runway before vanishing into the darkness.

One of the most recent and common phenomena, reported by witnesses, involves a nearby road on the eastern side of the former airfield, where a memorial to the men of No.100 Squadron was erected. A spectral airman is regularly seen standing by the memorial stone at dusk; perhaps even spirits feel the need to pay their respects to their fallen comrades.

Haunted Grimsby is available to purchase from The History Press.

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