|Despite several errors this O.R.B. entry for 24th April 1945 shows the Mallon crew aboard AA-W (RF127, not 137)|
|AA-W (RF127) on its way to the squadron's final operation - Bad Oldesloe on the 24th April 1945 (picture - E Ware , NZBCA Archives) Note the H2S radome under the fuselage.|
|L to R: Don Cook, Bill Mallon and Bob Jay!|
|Denis in the rear gun turret|
NX611- nearly 70 years later
|'Just Jane' (NX611) in better weather.|
As I reached my teens and memories of the war faded we no longer talked about flying. My dad died when I was 27 so when my interest in Bomber Command and the Lancaster was re-ignited a few years ago there was no-one there to answer my questions.
Then, on the 4th April 2012, almost 67 years after the end of the war, I was able to fulfil a childhood dream and stand by the Flight Engineer's seat in a Mark VII Avro Lancaster as its Four Merlin engines roared into life. It was raining so heavily that water ran down the perspex, dripped onto my shoulders and trickled over the Flight Engineer's panel, but compared to the conditions endured by crews on 'war ops' at 20,000 feet this was comfort - and I was only going to taxi a couple of hundred yards, not fly 1200 miles for 8 hours over enemy territory.
The Lancaster was, of course, NX611, built at the Austin factory in Longbridge in April 1945 to be part of the RAF's 'Tiger Force' and now giving displays and taxi runs at East Kirkby in Lincolnshire (See http://www.lincsaviation.co.uk ). It is difficult to describe the emotions I felt as this impressive aircraft slowly rolled across what is left of the airfield but I couldn't help but think not just of my dad but also the 55,000 Allied airmen for whom this would be the last few minutes of contact with their home soil - and Bob would have been the first to remind me to spare a thought too for the half million or so German civilians killed by the Allied bombing campaign, not to mention the 60 million victims of the war across the rest of the world. For those few minutes I felt closer to my dad than I had for nearly forty years.
|NX611 on its return from Australia to the U.K. (Biggin Hill, May 1965)|
|At the gates of RAF Scampton in the early '80s|
More pictures from NX611 on 4th April, 2012
|In my dad's seat|
|Looking over the pilot's shoulder|
|Starboard engines from the Flight Engineer's position|