Jane Glenn who had lived at Poplar Farm since the 1880s wrote the following in her diary for 10 January 1917: “Aeroplane came down at landing stage. Went to see it. First I had seen down, saw him start off again. Came from Melton Mobray”.
Between September 1916 and May 1918, Melton Mobray was the Headquarters of 38 Squadron that was responsible for landing grounds at Stamford, Buckminster, Leadenham and Anwick. The early air defence unit flew BE2e and FE2b pusher biplanes against Zeppelin craft straying in to Midlands’ airspace. Zeppelins were seen over Lincolnshire during November 1916 and March, May, September and October 1917.
Zeppelins could reach altitudes of 20,000 feet and by February 1916 had penetrated as far as Cheshire. None were intercepted by 38 Squadron which until July 1917 had been under the command of Major L.J.E Twistleton-Wykenham-Fiennes. Soldiers were stationed down Ruskington Fen and helped local farmers and the preacher at the Wesleyan Chapel.
The terror of war came a little too close for comfort in the early hours of 25 September 1917, when nine bombs fell from a Zeppelin on or around Poplar Farm. Two did not explode, but those that did caused craters that drew crowds of sightseers later in the week.
“Bombs dropped near to everyone but by the providence of God no one was hurt. How thankful we are” wrote Jane Glenn.
Britain was at war again 20 years later. The old Anwick landing ground was rigged to appear as a decoy for Digby’s busy airfield. Eight airmen were billeted locally, working on shift when the air attack warnings came. They had nothing but a cramped dug-out and an electric generator to light a flare path. A mobiel flashing beacon would be driven out by truck from Digby to complete the deception of enemy aircrew. When airmen were not cycling from Digby or in the dug-out they would do odd jobs for the local community.
When two Avro Lancasters colided near Anwick Grange on 2 March 1945, it was the turn of local farmers to help the RAF. Three aircrew perished in the accident and survivors were probably treated at the burns unit in Rauceby Hospital near Sleaford. The decoy site was reportedly abandoned in 1942. Other decoy sites were at Dorrington, Branston Fen and Willoughby Walks.
Today, Anwick is dominated by a food factory. There is a sign marking the former location of the Royal Flying Corps Landing Ground.
Directions: From RAF Digby, turn right onto the B1188 at Scopwick. After reaching Ruskington, turn left at the first crossroads and follow the signs out of the village to Ruskington Fen.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby and Thorpe Camp Visitors Centre at Tattershall Thorpe, lie approximately 12 miles north-east of Anwick.