Where East Meets West – Part 11 – Fulstow

I’m sort of going back in time now as I visited and photographed part of Fulstow some weeks ago.

During my research phase though, I came across some information that I found utterly fascincating.

The village was one, that for many years, did not have a war memorial to the soldiers of the first world war. Fulstow was offered one in 1918 but was told it could not include Pte Charles Kirman, of the Lincolnshire Regiment’s 7th Battalion. Pte Kirman, a veteran of the Somme, was shot at dawn in 1917 after going absent without leave.

Villagers insisted that every name be on the memorial,  and the issue became so sensitive that Fulstow didn’t even have an Armistice Service.

The village hall that was built to remember those who died in the second world war, contained no reference to the earlier conflict.

Pte Kirman, a former soldier recalled when war began, went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. After fighting at Mons and the Somme, and twice being wounded, he went AWOL in November 1916.

After a court martial he was returned to his unit. Terrified at the prospect of being sent back to the front line, he absconded twice, each time turning himself in after a few days.

He told his final court martial: “My nerves are completely broken down. I suffer with pains in the head when I am in the line. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing.”

He was convicted of desertion and of going AWOL and was executed, aged 32, on Sept 23, 1917.

Following a long campaign – and money raised by locals, they finally got their memorial, and Pte Kirman’s name is there – along with the other fallen…..

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Where East Meets West – Part 10 – “Just Jane”

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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.