South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum Event 20-05-2023

Doncaster Aircraft Museum

The South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum occupies the last remaining parts of RAF Doncaster. The image below shows the site as it may have looked after the First World War when it was operated as a commercial airfield.

Unfortunately other than the museum, very little remains of the original site. The airfield closed in 1992 and by 1994 the area has been developed as a park and retail center.



On an initial walk around of the area several knocks and groans were heard, although these could have been due to the age of the building. The wooden training hut which had originally been the Naafi (where we later did the pendulum) had a heavy feeling to it.


Vigil One – Main Hangar Area

The engine room area

The items within the engine room area were used as a display for the Sheffield Blitz.

In the engine room two men with burns to the their faces were picked up by several guests.

One had a burn on the left side of his face, and the other man had burns to the right side of his face.


The spirit of a young girl was also picked up in the engine room area, who had fallen down a well and got stuck. Her brother had tried to get her out at the time but hadn’t been able to.

Both inside the engine room area, and also just outside the doorway to it, in the main hangar area, several guests picked up on the smell of cigars, matches and also combustion from an explosion.

A spirit who was described as a “cheeky chap” nicknamed Lumpy. He was a whiskey drinker, crashed in a Lancaster Bomber. He was a double leg amputee, and had phantom leg syndrome, and had worked at the site when it was an airfield.

At the far rear corner of the hangar a very ancient vortex was also detected.


Hangar vigil using dowsing rods

A male called Ralph, he was an Afro American trained in Britain and was connected with an air crash. He was not in the RAF. He was an American airman and had a stroke whilst flying a French military aircraft

on Diplomatic S.O.E (Special Operations Executive) mission taking a French Government Official to France to meet DeGaulle. The plane was shot down by friendly fire over the North sea on the outward journey in 1940.

The co-pilot was English, pilot (Ralph) was not married he had an English sweetheart who was betrothed to another, her farther was high up in S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive)



Wooden Training Hut (NAAFI) building – Near replica aircraft:


(Previous to this, towards the beginning of the event, Josie had come up with the name Barry Watkins – possibly a pilot here)


First we got the spirit of a gentleman, an officer who has been on the base at some point during the second world war. He had mainly flown Hurricanes but had always wanted to fly Spitfires. Rob got the name Hines, possibly and Ralph Hines.

Unfortunately he was shot down, bailed out of his aircraft only to find that his parachute had been tampered with, possibly cut. On this day he had chosen to fly a Spitfire. We managed to ascertain that is name was Benjamin Watkins and that he went by Benji, this name is very similar to the one Josie had got early in the evening. He told us that he was a Flight Lieutenant under the command of Hines.

Throughout this we had a decent amount of activity from motion balls and the K2 which appeared to corroborate the answers we were given. Positive responses from the pendulum appeared coincided with activity on the various devices.

We also got the name Doris who had been his girlfriend. He was aware of Doris’s presence and appeared to have a connection with her. Scooby got the name Sarah, which Benji confirmed was the name of his daughter. We asked him if he was aware of what had become of the airfield and he was. He was happy that there was a museum preserving the history and was impressed with how aircraft technology had developed.

As we pushed for more information, our friendly spirt started to be forced out by a darker presence, a nasty individual who roamed the area, judging and sneering at others. He was definitely not impressed with the replica aircraft as it was not the real thing. We attempted to provoke him into a reaction, such as making a noise or showing himself, but unfortunately he would not cooperate.

We eventually let him in, in order to get some more information. He revealed that he had a connection to Benji, in fact, they had once been good friends. His name was Reginal Smithe (smythe) and after a while he admitted that he had tampered with the parachute and was also dealing illegal home-brewed liquor on base. He may have had romantic feelings for Benji and “we assume” made an advance which was rejected and he had acted in revenge and in an attempt to keep his sexual orientation hidden. He resented Doris and her relationship with Benji. He also acted poorly towards the majority of the men on the base in a further attempt to dispel any rumours.

He may have spent some time at St Catherines (a local mental health hospital as a child where he was subject to various “treatments” such as electro-shock therapy in attempt to “cure” him. This experience left him traumatised and may give some explanation.

He is listed as MIA because the situation may have been dealt with on the base instead of letting it get out to the public and tarnish their reputation.


As well as these spirits, there was also mention of an aircraft engineer who had been blinded in an accident where the terminals on a battery had been connected incorrectly. The engineer may have been intoxicated at the time. The engineering team was also understaffed and ill equipped and therefore where rushing to finish jobs on time. When asked if there was any connection to the DC3 outside and he confirmed that there was.


Dakota Modification Centre

From March to October of 1944 the airfield served as the location for the RAF 46 Group Dakota Modification Centre. The unit based here, in only 8 months, upgraded 600 DC-3 aircraft to operational standard ready for Arnhem. In some cases the airplane were delivered mere days before they were needed. 223 squadron received some of its aircraft on September 15th, 2 days before they flew to Arnhem.

Unfortunately personnel information is very difficult to find for this unit. It appears to have consisted of various aircraft engineers from different units who came together for this projects and there is a lack of information regarding their activities.


Spitfire Units

A couple of units flew Spitfires from RAF Doncaster. 613 Squadron, 616 Squadron and the 809 Naval Air Squadron.

613 Squadron did not receive their aircraft until 1946 so they would not have seen combat, 809 saw combat but not until 1943.

616 Squadron received their Spitfires in late 1939 and took part in the Battle of Britain. If our spirit Benji had flown a Spitfire, this is the unit he would have most likely been part of. This of course assumes he was actually based at Doncaster and was not using the base as a relief station.


Dick Flute, M. T. H., 2023. Doncaster flying sites. [Online]
Available at:[Accessed 22 05 2023].