Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

On Tour - RAAF Bomber Command in the UK Tour 14 July 2023


Today was an even bigger day than those previous. For one, we left York at 0900 and by the end of the day when we arrived at The Queen's Hotel in Cheltenham, we had travelled 350 km.

Our first stop after a couple of hours was at a Service Centre where we had coffee and a break for 30 minutes before climbing aboard our coach and moving on. Our aim was to be at RAF Cosford where the IWM Midlands Museum was located. Our timing needed to be OK as we had an appointment with Daren who runs the Conservation Centre at the Museum. Our timeslot was 1330 but as we arrived at 1250, we decided to have lunch then in the canteen.

Daren arrived at 1330 and led us out to the Conservation Centre where we were given a full presentation associated with the Hampden Bomber that Daren and his team had been working on for over 10 years. The aircraft will not be completely put together as Daren want people to be able to view inside the aircraft and realize how the inside is configured and how little space was there for the crew. The Hampden first can into service with the RAF in 1936 and was an excellent 2 engine bomber at that time and continued service up till 1943 but not in the bomber role at that time. The strength and speed of German fighters made the bomber to vulnerable by 1940 and it was given other roles such as guarding convoys and patrolling for submarines.

This Hampden was on a major mission with around 40 aircraft flying to Russia to support Russia's fight against the U Boats that were preying on the Merchant Ships bringing supplies to Russia. The Hampden had a crew of 4 plus a technician as an extra as they wanted the technicians to be there for the servicing of the aircraft at their new base at Murmansk. However, as they were blown off course and became disorientated, they thought they were where they should be and tried to land at an airfield that wasn't friendly. As they realised it, they pulled back and took off, but German fighters followed and after a one-sided battle, the Hampden was shot down and crashed into a forest. Three of the crew were killed and 2 were captured and spent the rest of the War in captivity.

After the Cold War concluded and the Russians pulled back into Russia, a search found the Hampden and it was recovered and all parts brought back to Cosford where it stayed awaiting reconstruction, as the staff of the Conservation Centre have done for many aircraft over the years. Free time then to view this collection of aircraft, in many hangars and one hangar has been refurbished and now is the home of a Wellington Bomber that has taken over 30 years to completely rebuild. Included in this hangar is the Medal Group of Wing Commander Guy Gibson including his Victoria Cross. A wonderful museum for us to visit and following our visit we continued south to Cheltenham where we will stay for 2 nights. Tomorrow the Royal International Air Tattoo.

Graham Fleeton.


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