611 Squadron is commemorated in the Sector Operations Room at RAF Digby in Lincolnshire. Digby was the base for 611 from 10 October 1939 until 13 December 1940. During that time a flight of the Squadron was detached North Coates and Ternhill. Digby was the Operations HQ for Lima Sector in No 12 Group Fighter Command, responsible for the protection of central England and nearest back-up to No 11 Group in the SE which bore the brunt of the fighting against Luftwaffe fighters and bombers.
611 was held back in great frustration during the Battle of Britain (July – Oct 1940) but was unleashed on 21 August 1940 claiming two enemy aircraft destroyed, two probable and one damaged. Held back again until 11 Sept the Sqn destroyed two, damaged one and claimed one probable. 19 September was by far the best day claiming nine destroyed, four probables and three damaged followed at the end of the Battle on 11 October with claims of three destroyed and one probable.
611 occupied Digby with Nos 46 and 504 Squadrons to form a Wing of Spitfire squadrons.
The Operations Room located on the main site at Digby has been preserved as a museum and the inside set up to represent a typical day during the Battle. The boards accurately display the pilots and aircraft available from each squadron, their location, the weather and other relevant information. It shows 611 detached to North Coates for the day together with the other two squadrons, all of which were to return to Digby that night. The board show 611 had 16 aircraft serviceable and available and 22 pilots with the others having 17 and 12 aircraft available with 19 and 12 pilots. All are accurately named.
In front of the boards is the plotting table made famous in films like The Battle of Britain and Reach for the Sky. They have a map of the centre of England the surrounding sea and incoming raids were plotted by WAAFs who were controlled by the Sector Control Officer who sat high up overlooking the table and boards. Again all are laid out to represent a day during the Battle.
The museum is operated by volunteers who have researched each squadron and the history and the rooms round the building have been converted into display areas for each squadron and other activities relevant to the time. There is a specific room dedicated to 611 Sqn. 611 is well represented with a photograph display, combat reports and other memorabilia.
The Museum is open May to October at 11.0 am only for guided tours, group visits can be arranged at other times. Contact is the Visits Coordinator at RAF Digby on 01526 327619 or get details on www.airops.freeserve.co.uk/digbyops
Admission is free but donations are welcomed.
On Sunday 30 March 2008 the Museum was rededicated at a ceremony which also celebrated the 90th anniversary of the RAF and of RAF Digby which is now the oldest RAF station still in use. Digby opened as RAF Scopwick on 28 March 1918 predating the RAF by three days! It was renamed RAF Digby in 1920 to avoid confusion with RAF Shotwick which was simultaneously renamed RAF Sealand.
The CO, Group Captain A S Corbett, MBE, MA, BA, RAF gave an opening address welcoming the large group invited for the day. I was kindly invited to represent 611 Sqn. There was a military vehicle display, the Museum was open to view, the CO gave an address and after lunch in the Airmens' Mess a formal ceremony of thanksgiving and laying of flowers was undertaken outside the Museum by Station Headquarters and the memorial to 411 Squadron RCAF which served at Digby later in the war with Wellington bombers. A mixed group of RAF and USAF personnel lowered the RAF ensign to the Last Post, the flowers were laid, prayers said for absent friends and then a lone Spitfire did a very spirited and very low flypast. The Spitfire was piloted by Sqn Ldr Paul Day, formerly CO of the RAF Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby.
The day was blessed with beautiful sunshine and clear blue sky and was a great tribute to those who served at Digby and with 611 Squadron. The Museum team is lead by Major Friskney with a truly dedicated team who are to be congratulated on maintaining such a fine tribute to 611 and others. If you have not been there, I strongly recommend you make the trip