Please note that the dates for these tours may vary from the guide below. No tours will be offered until international borders are open.
We finished our day very late due to the distance from York and the visits we had planned, but first, it was a cooler day as we said farewell to that lovely city of York. We had our replacement Driver, Shaun, at the wheel as we headed out to Home Upon Spalding Moor for our first visit. Home upon Spalding Moor was the home of 2 Squadrons during the War, 76 Sqn an RAF Sqn and the Australian Sqn, 458 Sqn. Both started off their campaign flying Wellingtons but moved to other aircraft as the War continued. The airfield is still located there but now as an Industrial Site with many businesses operating out of the former base.
Our tour has been visiting this site from the first tour back in 2009 and we have been fortunate that Joe Rotherham, the owner of the area we visit, collected all the notes, photos and cuttings from the old buildings there before many were pulled down and saved them. He then had them put into frames and has mounted them in a corridor within his showroom. Joe's company makes and sells fireplaces and surrounds and I have shown here some of his work. Also at the site are 2 memorials to those Squadrons and we held a small Service in remembrance of those who served here and were lost. Interesting, but while we were standing there and the Last Post was playing we had a fly past by Tornados operating out of Conisby, the timing could not have been better. A short drive down to the area where the original hangars are still located was followed by our drive through some beautiful country to our next visit, Snaith Memorial Garden.
This beautifully maintained garden is located adjacent to the old RAF Snaith Airfield where 51 Squadron operated from right throughout the War. It is maintained by the volunteers from the 51 Sqn Association and the garden is divided into 2 areas. Firstly, on one side are the plaques honouring those who were lost during the War and on the other, plaques for crews and individuals who survived the War but who have since passed on. Many Australians were serving in this Sqn and there are quite a few who are listed as "did not return". There is also an individual plaque depicting the fate of one of the NZ members of the Sqn, F/O P.P.J. Pohe was in fact executed by the Gestapo for being part of the Great Escape from the Stalag POW Camp. Some others are listed as murdered who were actually shot by the Germans as they were captured instead of being taken to a POW Camp. This was late in the War and was done following a direction from German Higher Authority.
We continued on our way and having crossed the Humber Bridge we proceeded into the village of Barton on Humber where we found a nice little café to stop for lunch, albeit quite late. The sandwiches proved to be a success and when we left the girls in the shop remarked to me that their friends will not believe that they had a coach full of Australians for lunch in their café. Nice place, nice people.
Moving on we finally made our way to RAF Binbrook which was the home of the famous Australian Squadron, 460. This Sqn dropped more bombs than any other during the war but also had more casualties than any other. We visited Ray's Memorial Garden and I noticed the extra work that he has done since our last visit. He has plans before Council now to rebuild the Control Tower. I wish him well and hope he achieves his plan.
We said our goodbyes and continued our move south to our hotel at Woodhall Spa, Petwood Hotel, the home of the Dambusters where Michael was waiting to again join us as our coach Captain. Set in 5 acres of manicured lawns with well attended lovely flower beds and now a place where many weddings take place. This early 20th Century old Manor House set in these lovely gardens was a beautiful way to end the day sitting out there on the terrace overlooking this beautiful vista. Tomorrow, more miles as we head further south, but first we will have a few locations to visit including the new Bomber Command Memorial.