A MILE or so south of the Croft Spa Hotel was the Second World War aerodrome, now a motor racing circuit, which featured in Memories last week.

Several people have pointed us in the direction of several books, including Alan Todd’s 1993 history of the aerodrome, for further information on some of the stories we mentioned:

March 15, 1944

Halifax LL152 landed shortly before midnight having bombed Amiens, in northern France. Unknown to its crew, a 500lb bomb was “hung-up” in the bomb bay beneath the plane – it had failed to release. However, the bump on landing caused it to disengage. It broke through the bomb door, struck the runway and exploded, blowing off the rear fuselage and killing the two gunners at the back of the plane.

They were Pilot Officer Lloyd Barker, 22, and Pilot Officer Irvine Klein, 21. Both came from Saskatchewan in Canada and both are buried in the military cemetery at Harrogate.

March 4, 1945

The Luftwaffe adopted a new tactic of following British bombers home and picking them off. Halifax NR232, from RAF Elvington near York, was diverted to Croft after bombing a synthetic oil plant in Kamen, on the Rhine. Unknown to its crew, it was being stalked by a Junkers nightfighter piloted by Feldwebel Gunter Schmidt.

At 2.10am, as the Halifax began its descent at 2,500ft, the Junkers picked it off, firing three bursts into its body. It immediately caught fire and crashlanded at 100mph onto the fields of Rockliffe Farm at Hurworth – we reckon it came to rest on what is now Middlesbrough FC’s training pitches behind Rockliffe hotel.

The all French crew scrambled out, carrying the unconscious pilot, Captain P Notelle, with them before the wreckage was engulfed in flames.

March 22, 1945

Our mushroom cloud picture was taken at 11.35am. Fifteen of the 28 Lancasters bound for a raid on railway yards at Hildesheim had already left when, at 10.55am, KB832, piloted by Flight Officer Horace Payne, was blown off the runway into mud. A tyre burst, the undercarriage broke and fire caught hold.

When attempts to extinguish the blaze failed, everyone ran for cover, and the 4,000lb blockbuster “cookie” bomb exploded 40 minutes after the incident began. The runway was repaired by 4pm.

Death toll

Bill Bartle in Barnard Castle is able to produce a figure from Aerodromes in North Yorkshire by David Brown. It says that 150 aircraft were lost from Croft, with 974 airmen killed on operations and a further 23 dying while on active service at the aerodrome.