Brass Monkey Ride

Brass Monkey Ride

Brass Monkey Ride
Sunday 6th January 2019

RIDE REPORT

Cycling UK Louth were to start from their new venue, the Meridian Leisure Centre on today's ride, and at the new time of 10.00 am. All went to plan and ride leader Tim Newbery was met by Alan Hockham, Bernie Hobill and Rob Whitworth at the Leisure Centre Cafe with time for a cuppa before starting the ride.

A very mild day, albeit rather cloudy, the group headed north through Brackenborough, Covenham and Fulstow. We were pleased to see several groups of cyclists out and greeted them all with 'Best Wishes' for the New Year. Bernie was trying out a new bike today, kindly on loan from Rob, whilst his own bike waited further work to be done on troublesome gears. A moderate pace was set with an average speed of about 11 mph and it wasn't long before we had the wind behind us on the A1031 all the way to North Cotes. By this stage we could hear and later see aircraft flying overhead and it wasn't too long before we arrived at the airfield.

The cloud was high based, visibility good and winds light, perfect aviation conditions and we enjoyed the spectacle of numerous aircaft landing and taking off including a gyro-copter, whilst members of the Real Aeroplane Company, based at the Breighton airfield, Selby, had brought their restored Max Holste Broussard. The annual Brass Monkey Fly-In is now in it's 21st year. Additionally Tim was grateful to both Rob and Bernie for offering to buy him a cup of tea and a very fine sausage bun. By the time we were ready to leave there were even some pleasant spells of sunshine as the cloud thinned and became broken.

The return leg had the group initially retracing to North Cotes before heading to Marshchapel, following the pretty lanes of the West End and Covenham Reservoir. The occasional stop was required to let Bernie's fingers become free from pins and needles but the group arrived back at the Leisure centre together and without much incident, having enjoyed a fine Winter's ride. 28 miles covered. Thanks to all.

HISTORY OF NORTH COATES AIRFIELD

North Coates airfield has a long and illustrious history. It was originally operational during WWI, and although the landing ground came under the control of the RAF, it was operated by the Admiralty as a marine operations station and had 2 landing sites prior to 1918. One used by the Royal Flying Corp and one used by the Royal Naval Air Service. A unique combination not repeated anywhere else in the UK. 404 flight and 248 Sqn RAF became the first permanent unit and were tasked with anti-submarine coastal patrols over the Humber and the North Sea. 33 Sqn later concentrated on night-time anti Zeppelin patrols. De Haviland DH6 and the Sopwith Tabloid were used by 404 flight whilst 33 sqn used the Avro 504k amongst others. The Admiralty were in charge of the Humber Garrison and all aircraft movement over the Humber. Any pilot wishing to fly north would have to land at North Coates to gain permission to proceed. Seaplanes were required to fly low overhead where instructions would be given by the waving of coloured flags. Failure to follow instructions rendered the aircraft liable to be shot down!

During the second World War, Lincolnshire’s Coastal Command Strike Wing as part of 16 Group were based at North Coates. At the time, anti-shipping attacks were treated with the strictest secrecy with only the briefest of details released to the BBC and press, the general public little aware of what was taking place. The Strike Wings using torpedo equipped Bristol Beaufighters of 236, 254 and 143 Sqn’s fought in some of the bitterest and ferocious air attacks of the war. They suffered heavy losses, in the same proportion as Bomber Command but inflicted great damage in relation to their losses. During the course of its operations, North Coates Strike Wing were responsible for sinking 117 enemy vessels. From 1942-1945, 120 aircraft failed to return with the loss of 241 aircrew. There’s a fitting memorial to the Royal Air Force Strike Wing based on the seafront at Cleethorpes.

Post war, the airfield was selected as the site of the RAF’s first Surface to Air Guided Weapons base, housing 48 Bloodhound missiles. The Bloodhounds were controlled in part by the underground bunker at RAF Holmpton. Tim remembers many a tale told by his father who was based at RAF North Coates in the 1960’s. Since the 1990’s the airfield and hangars have been used by North Coates Flying Club.

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