Military History Tours On Tour - Bomber Command (RAAF in the UK) 12 July 2015
This was a different day, weather wise, to yesterday. The day started cooler and with much cloud hanging around. We started out towards Biggleswade where close by is the Shuttleworth Collection. This collection has aircraft from the Bleriot, 1909 to planes up to the late 30s and a couple of WW2 specials. The collection is special as all the planes fly. Cars and tractors and motor bikes in the collection also are able to be driven, there are no specimens held, except on behalf of another museum awaiting refurbishment etc that is not operational.
The Shuttleworth family under Colonel Frank Shuttleworth and his wife Dorothy were successful in the late 1890s and early 20th Century making all types of tractors, steam engines and anything mechanical that used steam on the farm or other industry. Richard was born into this family in 1909 and his father died 2 years later leaving Dorothy to bring Richard up and to take up his inheritance when he was 23 years old.
Richard Shuttleworth joined the Army, like his father before him and graduating from Sandhurst joined the 16th/5th Lancers, taking many of his personal possessions with him including his horse "Spear Lass".
On his inheritance he left the Army and hoped to join the RAF, but at that time was not accepted. This was also the time when he was collecting many of the pieces that are still in the collection.
He was an expert horseman, driver of racing cars, winning the first British Grand Prix and many other races and aviation had snared him as he learned to fly and bought his first plane, a Tiger Moth. When the War clouds gathered he again offered his services and was cherry picked to work in the Aircraft Crash Investigation Branch but before he could take up that job he was killed when the Fairy Battle that he was flying crashed.
With his mother creating a trust in his name the Collection today is of worldwide renown and we owe Richard and his mother for their work in establishing the Collection and the perseverance that has before us today this excellent, "live" collection.
Following our time at the Shuttleworth Collection we headed north to Tempsford. Tempsford was a staging point for those heading to France as part of the SOE. There were 75 women dropped into France who lost their lives and Prince Charles in 2013 dedicated a memorial to those 75 women. We viewed the Memorial and headed out to the airfield from where they had left. It was raining heavily as we trudged around 314 metres across country to find the brick barn that was their last place in England before they were dropped in occupied France. We held a small service for those girls and all others lost in that dangerous work. Held in the barn with the Skinner Family who happened to be there when we arrived. The Skinners were a local family and we appreciated their participation in the service.
Tomorrow we head further north towards many adventures.