“Wartime airfields can be very atmospheric places. When you stand at Gransden Lodge at dusk, it’s very easy to imagine a huge Lancaster bomber taxying out onto a runway for takeoff...”
Today, the peaceful countryside to the west of Cambridge is mainly given over to agriculture, but for several years in the mid-20th century, things were very different. Then, the area was dotted with airfields from which Allied aircraft flew to war – and one of these was Gransden Lodge. When the airfield first became operational, the units that were stationed there were involved in top-secret radar investigation and trials work, but within a year these units had moved away and the station became the base of the only Canadian squadron in the R.A.F.’s élite Pathfinder Force. It was later joined by another Pathfinder Force squadron, and together they flew many hazardous missions, in all weathers, against the Axis. After the war’s end, Gransden Lodge was briefly used by a unit that pioneered radar-assisted airborne mapping, and as a base for transport aircraft. It was subsequently the venue for some of the first post-war motor races in the U.K., and for many years before its decommissioning was under consideration as a Cold War base for American forces. In the early 1990s the wheel came full circle and flying began again, when Gransden Lodge became the home of one of Britain’s leading gliding clubs.
Over the space of more than seventy years, Gransden Lodge has seen aviation in many forms, ranging from secret trials and heavy bomber operations to competitive gliding. World-renowned servicemen and scientists have passed through its gates, and many whose names are now almost forgotten lost their lives after taking off from its runways. Trials and Tribulation is the story of this historic airfield, and it will appeal to those interested in military and aviation history.