RAF Caistor ~ WW2 Airfield and Cold War Thor Missile Site
I visited another former Royal Air Force base this weekend for a nice dose of the Cold War in Lincolnshire . . .
The site is located off a quiet road which heads out of the former Roman Town of Caistor and was opened in 1941.
It was never intended to be a ‘main’ air base for the RAF and was used initially as a Relief Landing Ground for Kirton-in-Lindsay and it continued in this role of providing a Relief Landing Ground for AFU Leconfield, RAF Manby and RAF Cranwell up until 1945.
For 4 months or so in 1943/44 the US army had a presence there although I’m unsure in what capacity
At the end of World War II there was no further use for the base, but the Cold War with Russia changed all that - in July 1959 it re-opened as a Thor IRBM site
It was once again a satellite station and part of a complex of RAF bases linked to RAF Hemswell.
From a photograph I’ve seen I believe the InterContinental Ballistic Missiles came into Lincolnshire at Hemswell and were then transported to the outlying stations such as RAF Caistor.
The Thor IRBM had a considerable range and were capable of housing nuclear warheads - a truly awesome weapon and an indicator of Cold War tension.
At RAF Caistor there were 3 Thor IRBM Launchers and each missile was armed with a one-megaton nuclear warhead !
It’s also worth noting that primary control over these Nuclear Warheads was in the hands of the USA.
The Americans operated the system on the well know 2 Key System and the site stayed in operation up until1963 when it closed once and for all.
After this closure it turned over to agricultural use, which is how I found it today.
Very little remains of the WWII heritage or indeed indeed the Cold War history.
A site visit by English Heritage in 2010 deemed it not worthy of any protection, their reasoning being too much was gone, some other sites had more to offer and, I find this interesting, a discussion on the value of Cold War sites - from that I read they don’t see the Cold War period as historically important as other period - a huge mistake in my opinion - we should preserve history for those to come, not for ourselves.
If anybody out there can add anything about RAF Caistor then I’d love to get it on record here, so please do leave a comment below.
Many thanks in advance,