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 left York at 0830 knowing that we were driving into a huge day with much to see and do. The day started as most on the Tour when we visited Holme on Spalding Moor to firstly pay our respects in conducting a small Service to remember those lost flying from Holme on Spalding Moor from both 458 RAAF Sqn and 76 RAF Sqn.
After our Service we entered the showroom that displays Joe Rotherham's business products, beautiful fireplaces and proceeded to a back corridor where Joe has developed a picture museum of the Squadrons who had served here. The 458 Squadron had many photos and memorabilia and tried to establish a memorial in the Church at Holme on Spalding Moor. The Church was not happy with that and it was then that Joe gave the Association some land for a memorial, which they built. Also there were many photos etc that had been given to East Kirkby but have been stored in a drawer, maybe never to see the light of day. So, Joe presented his plan for the photos etc to be displayed and those photos, paper clippings and other information associated with those Squadrons who had served here and instead of dumping it all he prepared 58 Story panels and mounted them on the wall. This is history on a wall.
Our nest stop for the day was at RAF Snaith, the home now of a magnificent Memorial Garden. 51 Squadron flew out of Snaith during the War and the Garden has a plaque in place for every crew that was lost. One particular plaque is for Pohe, the first Maori to gain his wings. He was shot down but survived that and found himself a POW. He was in the Great Escape after tunnelling under the wire but was one of the 50 executed by the Gestapo. There were a few other plaques for those who survived the War but on passing away since, have had their ashes spread in the Garden. The Garden is looked after by volunteers from the 51 Sqn Association with support from the owner of the industrial complex that now inhabits the airfield. Margaret form the Association was doing some pruning as we arrived. She had her 2 year old Grandson with her, usually she also has he 3 and ½ year old Granddaughter with her as well but Thursdays she goes to Child Care. The Granddaughter calls the Garden, the big garden.
Our next stop was RAF Binbrook, the home of 460 Sqn RAAF. This famous Sqn dropped more tonnage of bombs onto enemy positions during the War than any other. Casualties were also high, the most for any Sqn. We made our way to the airfield, which has been closed and the actual runways have been dug out and used for road base, however the old hangars are still there and being used as part of this Industrial Estate. At the airfield, adjacent to the hangars there is a small patch of ground that has been kept as a Memorial to the Sqn. We made our way to the actual Memorial for we were wished to conduct a Service of Remembrance.
At the Memorial we proceeded with our Service and Alan laid a Poppy in Remembrance, we then said the Ode and then, had a minutes silence. The Plough was one of the 2 Pubs in the village frequented by the men posted to RAF Binbrook and after we arrived we ordered our lunch and sat in the Bay window overlooking the street. A lovely break and then off to Conisby where the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is stationed. It was great being able to be so close to the Lancaster as it prepares for its flights this weekend. The guides at Conisby are all retired RAF fellows and very good at their job showing people through the hangar. After our visit we headed out to East Kirby to visit the home of another Lancaster. A big day and we then headed to the Petwood Hotel.
Dinner was a surprise as the hotel had set up a private table in the actual Mess where the Dambuster crews used as their Bar. Also they had printed a special Menu which they called, the Fleeton Dinner Party. A lovely gesture and the dinner was enjoyed by all with such lovely food and the ambience of the room made it the more special. Off to Bedford tomorrow.