There are many memorials dedicated to servicemen and women, and civilian personnel who served during the world wars. From a personal perspective, none has more immediacy than the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC).
This world-class facility serves as a point for recognition, remembrance and reconciliation for Bomber Command during World War II, and is located on Canwick Hill, south of Lincoln, with magnificent views across the city to the Cathedral, once a prominent landmark for aircrews during the war. Over a million men and women from all backgrounds, ethnicities and ideologies served or supported Bomber Command with one purpose: to protect our freedom.
The centre lies a mere two-and-a-half miles from RAF Waddington, which suffered the greatest losses of any Bomber Command station. It is also situated close to the former Avro aircraft production facility at Bracebridge Heath.
Within the centre’s grounds sits the Spire Memorial and Walls of Names, which was was officially unveiled on October 2, 2015 with an invited audience of 2,000 guests including 312 veterans and their families. For many of the men named on the accompanying walls, the Cathedral provided their last sight of Britain.Memorial stones carrying the individual names of servicemen and civilian personnel line the walkway leading to the Spire Memorial. On my most recent visit I was reading the stones when I happened across:
John, otherwise known as Bert, was my uncle. I had no idea that, presumably, the immediate family had arranged for the stone to be laid. This has prompted me to arrange for my father to have a stone dedicated to his services in Bomber Command as a Navigator/Bomb Aimer on Wellingtons. Like many serving personnel of the time, he never spoke about his experiences, and I never pressed him for information. When he passed away in 1995, we were sorting through the bungalow when in the loft we happened across a box with the words, ‘Mike’s Bits’. My father had bequeathed me some wonderful artifacts, including his flying logbooks, a book of WWII maps of Europe, and a collection of black & white images of unclassified sorties, courtesy of the 7th Army Air Recon Supt Co., 66th Tactical Recon Wing, and 10th Tactical Recon Wing.
As to the IBBC, it is well worth a visit, as it provides a comprehensive record of the role of Bomber Command’s squadrons and digitally displays historical documents and photographs relating to the activity of Bomber Command, in an interactive and immersive exhibition.
The reason for my recent visit was the InSpire Ride, a nationwide motorcycling charity event run by motorcyclists for motorcyclists to commemorate the huge losses in Bomber Command during WWII by converging on the IBCC. The last live event, held in 2019, saw over 600 motorcycles taking part.
The team behind the event are all members of Dambusters Charity Motorcycle Ride, volunteers who ‘just had a good idea’, and who work in collaboration with the Events Team at the IBCC, Lincolnshire Highways and Safety Teams, #girlsrideout and other groups and organisations to deliver InSpire Ride.
Whilst the RAF Waddington Motorcycling Club arranged to link up with bikers from the south of the UK, the Lindum Colonia UK Chapter rode their Harleys to Barton-Upon-Humber on the south side of the Humber Bridge to meet with bikers converging from the north of the country. Led by Assistant Director Dai Gunter, we rode across the bridge before turning southwards, back across the bridge, up the A15 to the roundabout which meets with the M180 near Brigg, and then a lovely ride across country via Caistor, past Cadwell Park, the Wolds, and onwards to the IBCC.
We met with some drizzle on the way, but overall the weather was kind to us and, as if on cue, the sun broke out once we had arrived at our destination.
Whilst I am a member of the Chapter, I had decided to break ranks and ride the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT as it was due to be collected the following Monday and I wanted to get another ride in before it was returned. You can see my test ride review in an upcoming blog.
- For further information on the IBCC, head to https://internationalbcc.co.uk
International Bomber Command Centre,
Canwick Hill, Lincoln LN4 2HQ
Tel: 01522 514755