The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre is the Lincolnshire Memorial to Bomber Command, and is based at RAF East Kirby – which sits directly on the meridian.
I visited, with a friend a few weeks ago, and was fascincated by what you can find there.
It is of course the home of ‘Just Jane’, a Lancaster Bomber being lovingly restored by volunteers. More about her later….
Entering the site through the NAAFI – we treated ourselves to tea and bacon sandwiches, which were very good.
We visited the briefing huts, ready to brief the 57 and 630 squadron crews detailed to attack Berlin. The large map at the end of the hut shows the route to and from the targets, and turning points. There is also a meterological report showing ice levels. I’m sure this room would have been full of anxious pilots, as their time for departure drew near.
Next door, is the billet hut. This was home to the air and ground crews on the station. The beds are made up and covered with uniforms. The shelves contain personal things from home, and items belonging to the men who did not make it back.
The Memorial chapel holds a roll of honour, naming all 848 crew who gave their lives. It is a place for quiet contemplation, and I didn’t feel that taking photographs in there was the right thing to do.
The control tower, also known as the Watch Tower, was where the aircraft were directed from. The sound of morse code fills the air in here.
Inside the main hangar, is the Lancaster ‘Just Jane’. It’s a huge aircraft, and we timed it just right – there was a talk going on, and afterwards we were allowed to wander under the wings, and examine the Lancaster close up. Jane does do taxi runs down the airfield from time to time, but as yet cannot fly. During the talk it was explained to us the enormous cost of having each section checked and x-rayed before it could be re-attached to the aircraft. It’s an immense job, but one that is being carried out slowly and methodically.
Further down the hangar is the incredible ‘Bouncing Bomb’, and the full story of the Dambusters Raid. I was able to stand in a virtual cockpit of a Lancaster, and view the run down the Derbyshire reservoirs, and over Ladybower. I’ve been to Ladybower and the dams many times over the years, so it was fascinating to see them from a totally different perspective.
Finally, there is a complete explanation of what all the bomb signs mean on the side of the aircraft. I was quite surprised at the ice-cream decal….
All in all, this is a fascinating place to visit. Sadly, on the day we went, the weather was cold, and wet – but a repeat visit is planned.
Next time, we are hoping to move a little further South – towards Spalding.