Posts Tagged ‘Second World war’

D-Day 70th Anniversary

June 5, 2014
marking D-Day in  Aldershot

marking D-Day in Aldershot

D-Day was the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany when the allies landed on a beach in Normandy.

The scale of the operation is hard to comprehend.

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.

Bomb Site

December 7, 2012
St Paul's surviving Blitz of WWII

St Paul’s surviving Blitz of WWII

One of the iconic images of London during the German Blitz of World War Two is St Paul’s Cathedral surviving in the midst of bombed out ruins.

Winston Churchill had ordered that St Paul’s be saved no matter what the cost, even if it meant all the surrounding buildings were burnt to the ground.

He issued this order because he believed that if St Paul’s was destroyed, the morale of Londoners would collapse.

What was not reported at the time for obvious reasons, morale was close to collapse, and had the German bombing raids continued, it would have collapsed.

Bomb Site maps all the bombs that fell on London during the Blitz.

You can pick a day, or the entire period of the Blitz, and it will map where the bombs fell.

With Bomb Sight you can discover what it was like in London, during WWII Luftwaffe Blitz bombing raids, exploring maps, images and memories. The Bomb Sight web map makes use of bomb census maps, previously available only by viewing them in the Reading Room of The National Archives.

You can interrogate and learn more information. You can type in a specific location. You can go to an area of London for example Hackney, or an area within Hackney for example Dalston or Hackney Central, see where the bombs fell, see pictures, read accounts of the time. But what does not seem possible, is once in one of these areas move around the map, though you can do this from the main map, by moving around, then zooming in.

The London Blitz took place from 7 October 1940 until 6 June 1941.

Bomb Site only went live 30 November 2012. They had not expected the level of interest and the server is unable to cope with the demand. Be patient.

More information on this project, a joint project between the University of Portsmouth and the National Archives, can be found on their blog, Mapping the Blitz Bomb Census.


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