Man with memories of Dambusters recalls meeting crew of the Vulcan XM600 which crashed into fields near Spilsby
Our recent articles on the Vulcan crashes continue to attract a lot of responses from our readers, some of whom were based at RAF Waddington at the time of the crash of Vulcan XM600. It has been most interesting to learn of people's reminiscences all those years ago.
Earlier this year we interviewed Bob Carter as part of the Dambusters Project. As a young man Bob had witnessed the first wave of Lancasters setting off on that epic raid.
Bob has since been in touch to tell us that he was a friend of one of the navigators on Vulcan XM600, John Clark. Apparently John was one of the heroes that evening.
An airborne inspection was carried out by a Phantom aircraft from nearby Coningsby. The Phantom crew confirmed the extent of the fire at the back of the Vulcan and the captain gave the order for the three rear crew to vacate the aircraft.
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Unfortunately one of the other crew members encountered difficulties in his egress and it was John who helped to resolve the problem and subsequently all three of the crew were able to bail out.
However, this delay had given the fire time to burn through the flying controls which meant the captain could not follow through with the original plan of flying out over the sea where he and the co-pilot would eject to safety and the stricken aircraft would have crashed into the water.
With the aircraft out of control, the two pilots ejected over land and fortunately no one was hurt when the Vulcan crashed into the ground near Spilsby.
Bob recalls going to visit his friend John in the RAF Hospital at Nocton Hall and meeting the other members of the crew in the hospital.
Unfortunately John suffered an injury when he bailed out and subsequently left the RAF but settled in Lincoln with his family and became a school teacher.
Who knows, some of our readers may recall being taught by John. Sadly John died a few years ago after retiring from his teaching job but this summer members of his family made a nostalgic visit to the heritage centre at RAF Waddington, the scene of his last flight.
The voluntary staff at the Waddington museum are more accustomed to hosting families of veterans from the World War II era. They treat these ancestral tourism visits separately from normal visits as the families often want to do more focussed research.
It was about three years ago we were asked to host Nick Barratt, the editor of Your Family History magazine and one of the original members of the team of researchers that started the successful BBC television programme Who Do You Think You Are.
We arranged to show Nick some of the aviation heritage in the local area but first he wanted to look at the Charter of the Forest in Lincoln Castle, which was first signed in 1217, a period in history which Nick had researched for his doctorate.
We showed Nick parts of Lincoln's aircraft engineering heritage, the World War I site at Bracebridge Heath, called in at the Waddington Aircraft Viewing Enclosure and spoke of RAF Waddington's heritage, then onto Coleby Grange and finally the Fighter Command Sector Operations museum at RAF Digby.
We also spoke of the ancestral tourism that takes place around the aviation heritage. Nick was most impressed with what we showed him, appreciating that aviation heritage is on a par with other historic attractions.
We will be at the Showground on Sunday October 27 speaking at the Echoes of the Past event sponsored by the Lincolnshire Echo. Do come along if you want to research your RAF relatives.