It was good to see 617 Squadron veteran John Bell on TV last week, being interviewed at East Kirkby by Simon King of the Hairy Bikers. This was one of a series of programmes made by the dynamic duo about British pubs, and it featured several hostelries in the so-called Bomber County of Lincolnshire. John Bell was the bomb aimer in the Bob Knights crew in 1944, took part in more than 50 operations, and won the DFC. He stayed on in the RAF after the war and eventually reached the rank of Wing Commander. (More about his career here.)
The programme went on to visit the Dambusters Inn in the village of Scampton. This is a modern pub, as the village didn’t have any licensed premises during the Second World War, but has recently become famous both for its collection of RAF memorabilia, and the picture gallery of all the men who took part in the Dams Raid. This was put together by pub regulars Nigel Favill and Heather Allsworth, who are pictured above.
The final visit was to the Blue Bell in Tattersall Thorpe. This is a much older pub, and was used by many RAF crews during the war, including 617 Squadron when it was moved to the nearby RAF Woodhall Spa. Many aircrew literally left their mark on the place by signing their names on the ceiling, but sadly this was painted over in the 1950s. (Such was the careless approach to our wartime heritage at the time.)
For the next three weeks or so, and if you are in the UK, you can watch the Hairy Bikers programme on BBC iPlayer here.