Military History Tours On Tour - Bomber Command (RAAF in the UK) 16 July 2015
Today was a very special day in more ways than you could imagine, but before I take you through the day I will relay to you a "washing" story and the service provided by our erstwhile driver Ray.
As you would know, getting washing done through hotels generally is quite expensive and very chancy as the washing may not be returned before one has to move on. Knowing this, from years of experience as a driver, Ray offered to gather all the washing and take it to a laundromat to do with his own washing.
All sounds good!! Arriving at the Laundromat, he noticed that there were 8 machines and he immediately started to load the 8 separate bags of washing that he had taken from those in the group happy with this service, all were originally in separate black garbage bins. However, the proprietor informed him that he could only use 2 machines at a time. Therefore after assessing the time to individually wash 8 separate sets, he decided to put everything in the 2 machines. Good plan to save much time.
Then to be sure he knew who belonged to what, he spread the items on the floor in their groups and photographed them with his phone camera. Smart plan.
At the end of the washing cycle he loaded all into the dryer and set it going, soon all is dried but in all this he misplaced his phone and actually thought someone had picked it up when he was doing his "sorting". Ah, he thought, there are a few people here so if anyone has it, I will find out if I can have another party phone my number. This he did and he found his phone, safely in the dryer!!
The sorting progressed and the plan worked as all received their respective clothes, in the end, a very good plan.
Now for today. Leaving York we ran into a traffic jam due to a major accident on the Motorway and taking the diverted route led to us arriving at Snaith Memorial Park at 0930 instead of 0900. Mick and Isabel Hesp were there waiting for us to show us through the wonderful garden that they lovingly tender in memory of those in 51 Sqn who were lost during their campaign as part of Bomber Command. Also on the opposite side of the garden are plaques for those members of 51 Sqn who survived the War but have passed away since. There is much work to be done and Isabel informed me that they will be commencing to clip the hedge soon.
The garden is located on the site where the airfield used to be but is now a Business Park and the owner gifted the site to the 51 Sqn Association. After time with Mick and Isabel, we bid them farewell as we headed south towards Cosford. We had time to make up to cover the time we lost.
We stopped for a break at the Woodhall Journey Break for a quick special visit and then with a coffee in hand, plus one with a huge hot chocolate, we continued on our way until 20 plus miles down the motorway I was informed that one of our party had lost his wallet at the centre. We turned around and headed back and while doing so I phoned the centre to check if any wallet had been found. Yes, was a wonderful answer as their cleaner had found it and handed it to the Manager of the centre. We retrieved the wallet, thanked the Manager, had a quick Sandwich and headed off again.
We were going to be late for our appointment at the Conservation Centre at Cosford so I phoned and spoke to Darren, the Manager and he assured me that when we arrive we can start our visit. Due to good driving and navigation by Ray, we arrived at Cosford at 1430 and started our visit.
Darren took us into the work area of the Conservation area where we saw the 3 big projects, the Dornier retrieved from the sea after 73 years under the water and sand, the Wellington that is getting a new covering and a Hampton that was lost on the way to Murmansk during the War. It was shot down and 2 of the crew were lost with the other 2 ending the War in a POW Camp.
The Wellington will be completed and will be displayed at the Museum as will the Hampton. The Dornier, which is the only one left in the world, is to be assembled as best, in the condition it is and also displayed at Cosford, to try to rebuilt it would lose its integrity. After 73 years in the water, it was lifted out as per one of the attached photos and over a year cleaned down . The wings came off just by undoing the bolts and were not rusted on. The petrol in the tanks was still OK and all the brass, copper and steel was in very good condition. A wonderful project lies ahead of Darren and his team.
We then returned to view the general collection that the IWM has here at Cosford, many of the aircraft here are not seen at any other museum. The Vulcan Bomber shares pride of place with planes of the First World War, the Second World War and later and includes many rockets from the Cold War.
Dinner at the Novotel for tomorrow, if the weather is OK, we will be gliding at Aston Down.