I arrived back from the bombing mission over Berchtesgaden, Hitler's Hideout, the war was not yet over, but it almost was. At least the war in Europe, the war with Japan had many more months to go. [see Berchtesgaden “Hitler’s Hideout”]
Our last ops was dropping food to the starving Dutch in Operation Manna. We arrived home to find the war in Europe was over, it was VE Day! [see Manna from heaven]
In the afternoon, I went into Lincoln and joined in the celebrations in front of the Stonebow in the High Street in Lincoln.
On our way in to town it took ages, as there were crowds of people and we kept getting dragged into pubs for a celebratory drink.
On my way in, I lost the one member of my crew who had come with me, but somehow found my way to the Stonebow, the centre of the VE celebrations in Lincoln.
I was reminded of VE Day on Christmas Day 2007.
As a Christmas present, I received a copy of Bomber Boys by Patrick Bishop (Harper Press, 2007). Flipping through the book that night, I found a picture of the VE Day celebrations in front of the Stonebow. The same photo, taken from the Lincolnshire Echo archives, is reproduced in Memory Lane Lincoln and Lincolnshire by Peter Washbourn, former press photographer at the Echo. [see BCID 5607211 and BCID 5765920]
A few days later, thanks to a kind invitation from the Echo, I went in to the Echo with my wife to see if it was possible to identify anyone we knew in the picture. Sadly there was no one we knew, or at least no one we could recognise.
I came away from the Echo with a copy of the VE Day photo and a copy of the front page of the Echo that reported the VE Day celebrations. [see Lincoln Prayed – Then Went Wild, Lincolnshire Echo, Thursday 10 May 1945]
It was on VE Day, that I met my future wife Mavis in front of the Stonebow. On 7 January 2008, we celebrated our Diamond Wedding Anniversary. [see Match Made at Stonebow]
Synchronicity: 6 January 2008, the night before my Diamond Wedding Anniversary, Foyle's War (ITV1), the plot revolved around a top secret RAF establishment producing maps for Bomber Command. The establishment was loosely based on Hamden Manor. I was tipped off to watch this episode by Gregory who used to work at Hamden Manor. He produced the maps we used to bomb Hitler's hideout towards the end of the war, and that is what this episode was about. Hamden Manor produced the maps we used in our bombing raids, we in turn produced the photographic reconnaissance that helped them to produce up-to-date maps. Gregory first contacted me when I wrote about my wartime experiences. Gregory advised the programme on our wartime experiences to help ensure historical accuracy.