Our last day on the road together for tomorrow this excellent tour concludes, where it began all those days ago, in London. We have only been on the road for 11 days but we have seen so much and learned so much that it feels more like 3 to 4 weeks since we left the Novotel Heathrow hotel.
So, we left the Bedford Swan Hotel at 0830, an excellent hotel right beside the River Oise with its many white Swans, exceptional food and service, no wonder we return each year. It took us an hour to reach the outskirts of London and we made our way then towards Hendon where we were to visit our last Museum of the Tour, the RAF Hendon Museum.
We were met by Peter Devitt, a researcher and curator at the Museum and he spent 45 minutes with us detailing the changes already instituted and the plans ahead. His knowledge of both the squadrons and more importantly the men of Bomber Command is extraordinary and one cannot wonder how he remembers all the names of so many men in the Command. One of their next projects is aimed at young children and he was very interested in the programme that has been put in place at the Army Museum of New South Wales in Sydney.
He wished us well for the rest of the tour and we then split up and melted into the Museum to view the many planes on display. You will find here photographs of many of the German planes that took part in the Battle of Britain. They are together in the Battle of Britain Hall alongside the British planes against them, from the Defiant to the Spitfire and many in between.
As well as many helicopters and Jets and also the planes in the Bomber Hall there has been a new display constructed in the Graham White Hall associated with the air war of the First World War. The displays here include not only many of the planes, from both sides of the conflict but many artefacts and histories of the combatants. Well worth a special visit.
After our visit, Michael, our very good and knowledgeable driver took us through London on a scenic tour and pointed out many of the landmarks, this is his backyard as he normally drives coaches only within London. Our tour down those small country roads was indeed a change for him, which he seemed to relish. The drive around London was enjoyed by all of those aboard and he dropped us near Green Park so that we may visit the Bomber Command Memorial and a wonderful memorial it is. We conducted a small Service before moving to view the New Zealand Memorial and the Australian Memorial before heading back to our coach.
Another tour through London took us to St Clements Danes Church, the RAF and RAAF Church in London. All squadrons engaged in the War in Europe are commemorated with their squadron plaque, in bronze, impregnated into the tiles floor of the Church. The Church was destroyed during the blitz but rebuilt after the War.
Next stop was at the Pullman Hotel where we sadly said goodbye to Michael, but, hope he will be with us in the future. Tonight we visited the Skinners Arms Pub for dinner and then tomorrow after breakfast we also will be saying goodbye to each other. A great group enjoyed a great tour together following Bomber Command around the UK.