RAF Scampton visit
By kind permission of RAF Scampton and Cranwell authorities
RAF Scampton visit
When Linda asked me to publish details of this visit it immediately brought back memories of many an enjoyable Saturday night spent there at dances in the early 1970's!
So it was that I joined the group of 13 from the Walesby Group plus a couple from Surrey who were holidaying in the area for the said visit to RAF Scampton on a very hot afternoon in May. We were greeted by our guides who proceeded to take us on a very informative tour providing commentary on the history of the base and pointing out various buildings of interest along the way, including the spot near the Guardroom where Richard Todd - Wing Commander Guy Gibson and Michael Redgrave - Dr Barnes Wallis appeared in the 1955 Dambusters film. In May 1943 the base was brought to the very forefront of Bomber Command with the attack against the Mohne and Eder Dams. The raid led by Gibson in 1943 earned the Station its 3rd and best known Victoria Cross.
Now home to the RAF Acrobatic team, The Red Arrows, famous for their red, white and blue vapour trails, we saw the dye pods which contain the coloured dye/diesel mix, a dedicated Dye Team ensure the aircraft are replenished with the correct amount of diesel and dye, each of these pods cost £400, paid for by charity.
I don't think any of us were prepared for what awaited around the next corner, for there in all their glory gleaming in the afternoon sunshine stood the 9 red Hawk Aircraft - the Red Arrows - WOW!
I'm sure we had all hoped we might see them but still weren't quite prepared for what happened next when the guide informed us that weather permitting they would be leaving at 3pm for a training exercise at RAF Valley! Sure enough, shortly afterwards out came the support team, known as the ‘blues' due to their distinctive royal blue flying suits, followed by the ‘reds' carrying their distinctive helmets. Following their checks, the hoods went down and then the roar as the engines started and we watched in amazement as they all turned and taxied in front of us with a wave as they passed enroute to the runway before taking off into the clouds. It really was one of those goose bump moments that I will never forget what a privilege to be in such close proximity of these very brave and highly skilled airmen and woman.
We were all by now ready for a much needed cup of tea but on the way passed the well-kept grave of Wing Commander Gibson's black Labrador dog ‘Nigger' who was run over and killed hours before his master took off for the Dambusters raid. Gibson left instructions for his faithful companion to be buried outside his office at precisely the same time as the attacks would take place later that night.
Although we saw many of the artifacts and memorabilia in one of the hangars, the Museum is in the process of being moved to a new home and is due to re-open by the end of this month.
I think everyone will join me in saying a big Thank You to Linda for arranging this visit which was a very enjoyable and informative afternoon, the highlight of which had to be The Red Arrows.
For more information contact the Museum Curator and Nigger’s Grave Keeper
Mervyn Hallam Tel: 01522 683856 (Home)