Monday, 7 September 2015

Emotional Memorial Day at Wickenby

Sunday, 6th September 2015.  A beautiful sunny day. Perfect for a day of remembrance at Wickenby Airfield in Lincolnshire.

Lincolnshire: Bomber county during WW2.  Bomber Command created RAF aerodromes in this historic county of England.

Huge swathes of farmland turned into concrete runways, huts for airmen, control towers, hangars and all the necessities for the RAF to prosecute the war against Hitler, the Nazis and all who aided and abetted that regime in the early 1940s.

RAF Wickenby, home to No. 12 Squadron and No. 626 Squadron and all who served there during the war.  Average age of the Lancaster bomber crews: 22.   Of all who flew on operations many were injured.  Many died: 1146 was the total death toll.

Religious belief is not for me.  But I attended this tribute to those gallant young men who never made it back to Wickenby in those dark and dangerous days. 

It was an emotional time for many, and I was one of them. I listened to Anne Law speaking of a crew who made it through 31 operations but on their 32nd the dice rolled against them. All seven crew members died when a night fighter shot them down.

After Anne's reading of that one operation and the 'Last Post' was played I know that many a tear fell as that mournful last note faded out.

I made another very amateur video, drastically cut down to a few minutes of the hour-long memorial service.  After the closing tribute a lone Tiger Moth made a couple of fly-pasts to end a memorable afternoon, the weather adding its own tribute by staying just perfect.


PhilipH said...

Anne Law and Tony Goodeve did a great job in preparing this memorial day. It was lovely to meet a couple of veterans, one of whom was a 90 year old chap who was a rear gunner in a Lancaster of 626 squadron.

ANITA said...

We must never forget!

This post is really great.

Iam so into the second world war.Much because my father had to escape as a little child from Francoes regime.The bombing of Guernica (26 April 1937)

England laid their arms around the childs He could never forget the kindness.

Very nice done to make the video.Well done.

Kindly regards Anita

PhilipH said...

Thank you Anita. I'm also only a child when the bombs begin to drop on Croydon, outer London, not yet six years old. Now we have hundreds more young children in fear for their lives and seeking refuge. When will mankind learn to live in peace?

Sparkling Red said...

That is a moving and bittersweet tribute. I can't imagine what it would be like to be able to remember those days. It is certainly a reminder of how fortunate I am to live in a time of local peace.

Fram Actual said...

It is good of you to take the time to attend memorial services for these warriors who arrived here on earth and fought and died only a few years before your own era as a military man, Philip. I can remember similar services from my past, but to be honest, I have a tendency now to avoid public gatherings such as these. I can think about and write about Memorial Day and Veterans Day/Armistice Day/Remembrance Day, but being in the presence of the ceremonies leaves me feeling uncomfortable.

I enjoyed your film, Philip, and I am glad you posted it. I especially liked the end when the children went to the memorial with their wreath. War and remembrance should be a generational thing.

the walking man said...

The air war in Europe--there really is not much one can say except it was that or doom for England. That the Lancaster was a very good mid to long range bomber was not enough to keep all of her crews safe, had the technology for nighttime bombing raids in Europe been more advanced maybe not so many air crews would have been lost. The wars in Europe and the Pacific and the horror of the death toll at 66 million was so damn unnecessary had the politicians of the time dealt in reality rather than the belief in lies told by tyrants including Stalin.

Well sir there is no comfort found in any war or victory only remembrance of the causes, which as a world we seem to have forgotten long ago. Physical peace I am fairly convinced is not a part of our DNA.

PhilipH said...

Thanks to you, Sparkling. Hope the wars in the middle east are settled asap. All those poor families driven from their homes by mad religious groups. Sickening.

Thank you Fram A. I seldom attend meetings like this but I have a fondness for Wickenby airfield and have known it for some years. I would have been saddened if the attendance was below par so that's why I went. Very glad I did. You were so perfectly right in mentioning the two youngsters who laid a wreath on Sunday. They both acted in a mature way for their years and I loved it when they took part. I guess they were doing it for a long gone Grandpa but whatever the reason they get top marks from me.

Hi Mark. You're so right my friend. Man seems to have an inbuilt gene that sparks into a fight to the death at the slightest provocation. Religious difference is one of the main flames that lights the fuse.