A FORMER airman solved a mystery when he visited his North Yorkshire airbase for the first time in 70 years.

Ron Stewart lived in York when he joined the RAF as an engine mechanic in 1940, and was posted to RAF Linton-on-Ouse as part of 58 Squadron in November that year.

His squadron regularly flew Whitley bombers in missions over enemy territory, and he had details of a German bombing raid from May 1941 that were previously unknown to base historians.

Ron said: “We often flew out in the Whitleys to Shipton-by-Beningbrough (the location of a nearby ‘scatter airfield’) from the base to disperse them in case of enemy attack. “One night, in May 1941, we took some aircraft to Shipton, and my sergeant let me go home for the night. It was very lucky that he did, because that night the Germans bombed Linton and several of the lads in my billet ended up wounded by the bombing.”

The raid on Linton in May 1941 claimed the lives of 13 airmen, including the station commander, Group Captain Garroway. Although many stories have emerged since then about how Group Captain Garroway died, including that he was killed fighting fires, or while sheltering in a bunker which took a direct hit, Ron was able to confirm that he was killed by a bomb.

Wing Commander (Retired) Alan Mawby, the curator of the base memorial room: “He was outside, possibly nearby the shelter that took the near hit and was killed while checking that his airmen were taking shelter. A sergeant with him survived the blast. This clears up a bit of a mystery as we have several differing accounts of how he was killed.”

The station is currently researching the names of all the ground crew who were killed by German bombing at Linton, with a view to erecting a permanent memorial to them.