A little later this morning the Mynarski Lancaster, affectionately known as VeRA, will take off from RAF Coningsby and begin the long journey home to Hamilton, Ontario. Its stay in the UK is over, but it has left an indelible memory with its many appearances alongside its cousin from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The last six weeks have seen the world’s only two flying Avro Lancasters make stately progress through the skies at airshows and other events up and down the land. The public has responded by turning out in their thousands at each event, thrilled to see the pair and experience at first hand the roar of eight Merlin engines.
Where better to make a final appearance together than flying down the Derwent valley in Derbyshire? In the spring and early summer of 1943, the Ladybower Dam was one of those used by the newly formed 617 Squadron as it practised low flying over water for the Dams Raid. It has become a traditional place for salutes to those who took part in the Dams Raid and the other aircrew of Bomber Command, 55,000 of whom were to die during the Second World War. They hailed from all parts of the UK, and from many other countries both inside and out of the Commonwealth. Chief amongst these were the Canadians, who provided 30 of the 133 aircrew who flew on the Dams Raid.
Last Sunday afternoon, the pair flew down the valley together and made three passes over the dam. Flying as a passenger in VeRA was 90 year old Sydney Marshall, a wartime member of 103 Squadron, who is a volunteer guide at the BBMF. A report about his experience is on the BBC website, here. There was also good coverage in the Telegraph and the Mail.
Most remarkable of all, is this video, shot from inside the BBMF Lancaster by Tim Dunlop (one of the flight’s Lancaster pilots), and also available on Youtube:
Have a safe journey home, VeRA, and many thanks for taking the trouble to visit and provide so many people with so many memories this wonderful late summer season.
an experience never to be forgotten and even possibly never to be repeated….
I would love a picture of them flying over the damb as I was unable to see them personally, only on TV
Good luck and safe journey home VeRA
Well scripted Charles , it has been an amazing few weeks, as we live near Scampton we have seen them most times that they have been out .I saw Vera on her first flight in and I will be seeing her on her last flight out over Lincoln Cathedral.The most emotional time for me was to see my friend George (Johnny) Johnson ,bomb aimer on AJ-T on the dams raid watch the three Lancs at East Kirkby , when they came over for the first time he had a tear in his eye and was quite emotional,but also with him holding his hand was Mary Stopes-Roe ,.. that was a fantastic sight and a great tribute to 55573 Bomber Command personnel of WW2 . A big thanks to the Canadian team and the BBMF ,and i would also like to thank the Panton family of East Kirby for their contribution to the two 3 Lanc events .
Agree all the above with one small correction – Ladybower Dam was not used for training by 617 Sq for the dams raid, The Ladybower reservoir and dam was still being built in 1943. It was Derwent Dam and reservoir that were used.
Thank you Charles for recording this fantastic and memorable event so that those of us in far away places can get some enjoyment from it.
Graeme Jensen. Newcastle, Australia.
We saw VeRA leave Coningsby yesterday morning, in the company of the BBMF lancaster, 2 spitfires and 2 hurricanes. An honourable, and sad departure. ‘Thumper 3’ looked lonely on her return.
David & Peter Howarth
Wow,after seeing you at East Kirkby airfield,along with PA 474 and of cause,Just Jane,it was a day I will always remember.My dad trained up as a ,radio op/air gunner,and ive been going to East Kirkby for over 20 years now.I cant thankyou enough for bringing your Lanc over here for us to see,and would like to wish you a safe trip home.
Hello, I have a question but first thank you for your blog and congratulation for the great job of memory you make. My question in about the next great anniversary, I presume it will be around the 17 th of may ? I was there for the 70th anniversary and even if to see the Lancaster flying over the dam was a great pleasure it was also a moment of great emotion.
So, I asked you this because of my job i have to book earlier the day of my holidays. Best regards Frederic GINGILLINO >
I am sure that there will be an official event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dams Raid, but as far as I am aware nothing has yet been announced. When it is, I will post information on the blog. CF