Posts Tagged ‘Avro Lancaster’

Filming of documentary on bombing raid

December 30, 2016

Filming of a documentary of a World War Two Bomber Command bombing raid from the viewpoint of a Lancaster crew.

Interviews with veterans, film footage of raid.

The film, title not yet known, may be crowdfunded, possible available as DVD and streamed on vimeo.

A taster will be posted on vimeo and youtube.

Filmmaker Andrew Panton.

‘After 36 operations and a mid-air collision, I made it to the end of the war’

November 11, 2014
Lancasters dropping food over Holland in Operation Manna

Lancasters dropping food over Holland in Operation Manna

Operation Manna

Operation Manna

Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Lancaster bomber flight engineer Warrant Officer Harry Parkins recalls his role in the world’s first humanitarian aid mission more than seven decades earlier with remarkable candour and detail.

On April 29, 1945, Bomber Command dropped tons of food over the west of Holland to alleviate the suffering of three million people. A million were officially classified as starving.

Over the next 10 days, Harry was involved in six special missions from RAF Fiskerton, east of Lincoln. It was part of Operation Manna, which saw US Air Forces and RAF aircraft parachute more than 12,000 tons of vital food supplies into the stricken area.

“After 36 operations with 630 Squadron out of East Kirkby with a New Zealand and Australian crew, I made it to the end of the war and even survived a mid-air collision with another Lancaster,” he said.

It was while he was training new flight engineers in early 1945 that Pilot Officer ‘Chips’ Fry begged him to go to RAF Fiskerton back on operations.

So he did three more with 576 Squadron before the first of six flights to Walkenburg, Delft and Rotterdam, dropping food.

He said: “Because the German troops were also starving, we could also see them and heard later that they’d also been taking up the bags of flour. Some had burst on the huge poles the distrusting Germans erected in the fields to stop us landing.”

Post-war, after meeting his future wife Mavis in her native Lincoln soon after, he chose to stay on in the county.

Now living on Trafalgar Court, Mr and Mrs Parkins – who have a son, daughter and two grand-daughters – had a shock last week when their phone rang.

“On Tuesday I got a phone call from Mrs Ella Howlett, who was in tears.

“She was thanking me and the crew for dropping the food which saved her life and many others. She was a girl in Holland and said many of her friends and family died. She was only 16-years-old at the time. And in 1948 she married her husband who was a soldier and came to live in England.

“It was a very emotional call because her family survived even though they had been eating tulip bulbs and making stew out of potato peelings.”

His 630 Squadron crew at East Kirkby held the record for the longest Lancaster mission – more than 2,000 miles over the Alps to Munich on April 24, 1944. The aircraft ran out of fuel on landing back at base 10 hours 25 minutes later.”

The final airlift on VE Day meant that Harry and his pals could pack up and go home – eventually.

But it was not before he was involved in repatriation flights for Allied prisoners-of-war held in camps in Brussels and Italy – during which he had a chance encounter with his uncle Len, whom he had not seen since boyhood.

Originally published Lincolnshire Echo, republished on Medium

Canadian Lancaster VERA lands at RAF Coningsby

August 9, 2014
VERA coming in to land

VERA coming in to land

Lancaster VERA coming in to land

Lancaster VERA coming in to land

Lancaster of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight standing in the rain

Lancaster of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight standing in the rain

Squadron Leader Paula Willmot braves the rain

Squadron Leader Paula Willmot braves the rain

two Lancasters

two Lancasters

two Lancasters

two Lancasters

two Lancasters

two Lancasters

Lancaster VERA

Lancaster VERA

Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Lancaster of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

Lancaster of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

flight crew chatting to crowds at perimeter fence

flight crew chatting to crowds at perimeter fence

flight crew and veteran before Lancaster VERA

flight crew and veteran before Lancaster VERA

Still hard to believe what happened today. — Matthew Munson

Starting to set in what we actually achieved bringing the Lancaster to the UK. An amazing experience, will never happen again. — Matthew Munson

Lunchtime yesterday, a Canadian Avro Lancaster touched down at RAF Coningsby. It is only one of two flight-worthy Lancasters, the other is based at RAF Coninsgsby, part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. There is also based at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre a Lancaster that can taxi, but not fly.

There had been weeks of lovely, warm, sunny weather. Yesterday it tipped it down, but that did not dampen the spirits of those there, invited guests, guests of honour being veterans from World War Two Bomber Command. There were also crowds gathered outside hoping to catch a glimpse.

There was due to be a fly past over Lincoln of the two aircraft, but this had to be cancelled due to poor visibility.

Harry Parkins, Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops:

I had a super time with the Air Vice Marshal’s wife taking me under her wing and introducing me to all the Press and TV who were asking questions and taking photos. The Air Vice Marshal’s wife was a Squadron Leader and said I had so many interesting stories that she would try and get me to go to one of their officers dinners.

From Lincolnshire Echo:

Lancaster veteran Harry Parkins, who is 89, and lives in Trafalgar Court in Washingborough, was absolutely delighted to be at RAF Coningsby today to welcome the Canadian Lancaster.

Mr Parkins, who is 90 in October, is a former salesman who went on to manage an electrical wholesaler.

He flew 36 missions as a flight engineer with 630 Squadron at East Kirkby and three missions with 576 Squadron from Fiskerton.

He said: “It is an amazing day. It brings back memories and I still go back to East Kirkby when I can because I don’t have to pay now.

“When I joined up with the first Lancaster unit, I had no experience in the aircraft because I trained on Stirlings.

“We never thought of the danger, you just knew for some reason that you would get back.

“It was exciting except when you were caught in the German searchlights, which we were over Stuttgart, but the pilot did a corkscrew manoeuvre and got us out of it.

“It is an honour to be here, especially as I served with crewmen from New Zealand and Australia.

“Now I am the only one left it is great to welcome the Canadians over here.”

Mr Parkins explained how he survived a mid-air collision over East Kirkby in 1943 as his aircraft was coming into land another Lancaster flew in below and took off a wheel.

“We all survived because we landed ok but the other aircraft crashed and exploded and all the crew were lost.”

Lancaster VERA was from Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, which is organising the $750,000 six-week trip to Lincolnshire. They were amazed at the level of interest their trip has generated.

Lancaster VERA flew to Goose Green, then to Iceland, then to arrive RAF Coningsby Friday lunchtime. A remarkable achievement, probably never to be undertaken again.

Pictures are mainly from Lincolnshire Echo. Tweets as shown.

A Second World War Avro Lancaster flies across the Atlantic, which was more than the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lighting was able to do for the Farnborough Airshow.

Lunch at Dambusters Inn

January 5, 2013
Dambusters Inn

Dambusters Inn

Dambusters Inn in the Lincolnshire village of Scampton is not a pub for its food, it is a pub for WWII memorabilia relating to the RAF and in particular Dambusters 617 Squadron.

From Lincoln, take the A15, then A1500, then B1398 into Scampton.

Usually B roads are little winding country lanes. B1398 into Scampton is not, it is a wide road as though a major trunk road. Odd as Scampton is a little tiny village. I can only think it is so wide, as it skirts the back of RAF Scampton, and maybe it is to give rapid access to the base in an emergency.

As you come off the escarpment and wind your way down to Scampton, fantastic views across the Trent Valley. Also visible are lakes that look like flooded quarries or gravel pits, but aerial pictures reveal to be resevoirs.

Dambusters Inn is on the right as you come into the village.

The pub is not old, but as you step over the threshold you step back in time. It is as though you have entered a very old pub during the Second World War.

In the entrance porch, WWII relics either side. Walk in, and an airman’s jacket and scarf hanging up.

In one bar, a Lancaster bomber instrument panel (not a Lancaster cockpit as has been reported elsewhere). Original maps of the Dambuster raid, photos of dams before and after, logbook for Guy Gibson (replica not original), flying gear behind a glass, framed old newspapers, on a wall display of medals and who awarded to (a pity no guide to what the medals were or what awarded for), an open fire.

The pub is very much a small museum with a very enthusiastic landlord maintaining it. Clearly a labour of love.

Behind the pub what looked like a vegetable garden gone to rack and ruin. Strange no garden with seating, beyond the garden a paddock. There was outside seating but this was at the front in the car park.

A good choice of local real ales on the bar, and Anzac biscuits and Dambuster cheese.

Attractive and friendly girl behind the bar, who also doubled as waitress.

This is not a pub for food. Scampi and chips was ok, better than a chain pub, but not great. Haddock and chips, the haddock was not good, either because the skin had not been removed or it was not fresh and going off. Far far better fish n chips at Elite the other side of Lincoln.

There is nothing to see in Scampton, other than the village church, and it was closed. In the churchyard graves of killed servicemen.

The road back into Lincoln A15 is an old Roman road. It runs dead straight with Lincoln Cathedral dead straight ahead. Ignore all road signs, keep going straight ahead, you will eventually reach Newport Arch, the Roman gateway to Lindum Colonia. If you go through the arch, you are in Bailgate. An interesting area to explore. Or turn left, follow the roads around until coming back on oneself, will find yourself around the back of Lincoln Cathedral. The road is a no access, parking limited to 30 minutes. Just sufficient time for afternoon tea in the Lincoln Cathedral tea shop and quick look at the cloisters.

For an itinerary may also wish to visit:

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is located at RAF Coningsby. At Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre is a Lancaster that can power up its engines and taxi, but not fly. There are plans to get it flying by 2014. Petwood Hotel was the former Officers Mess for Dambusters 617 Squadron, one of the bars is maintained as it was during WWII. RAF Scampton, where 617 Squadron was formed, is now the base for the world famous Red Arrows.

The Blue Bell Inn, a very old roadside inn at Tattershall Thorpe, serves excellent food and a good choice of real ales. Apart being an interesting old inn and serving excellent food, another reason for visiting the Blue Bell Inn, is that on the ceiling of the old bar are signatures of members of the 617 Squadron.

I am surprised no enterprising person has produced a small booklet on these sites, available at all the sites, that could later be expanded into a book, though the pages linked to from here will give all the required information for visitors, bar actually visiting the sites.

Based at RAF Scampton, a few miles north of Lincoln, 617 Squadron, led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, was specially formed to handle the Dambusters raid. All the crews were hand-picked for the squadron.

A specially modified Avro Lancaster was needed for the raids. The bomb was slung below the plane. On approach to the target, the bomb spun up to 500rpm. This backwards spin caused the bomb to bounce, on hitting the wall of the dam, the backwards spin would pull it down the wall of the dam into the base of the dam. A hydrostatic fuse was set for 30ft, and failing that, a delayed detonation.

Details of the bouncing bomb and its release mechanism were kept secret until 1974.

After the raids the Germans managed to recover one of the bouncing bombs that had not exploded. They carried out their own work using the bombs, but had to abandon their trials as the bombs had a nasty habit of catching up with and destroying the release aircraft.

The bombs had to be dropped from an exact height of 60ft. Barometric altimeters were not sufficiently accurate. Spotlights were aimed at an angle at the ground. When the two spots on the water merged into one, the aircraft would be at an exact height of 60ft.

617 Squadron practised their bombing raids on Derwent Water. Such was the delicacy of the operation that not even the crews knew what their final target would be. A rumour was spread that it would be the German battleship Tirpitz, holed up in a Norwegian fjord. Ironic, in that later in the war, Tirpitz was bombed by 617 Squadron.

The Lancasters used in the raid, had their armour removed to reduce the weight.

The attack, code name Operation Chastise, on the night of the 17th of May 1943, was in three waves.

2013 sees the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters bombing raid.

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