Bomber Command - The Memories Of Three Men
Bomber command was a personal piece of work that ended up taking just over a year. Having lived in Lincoln Lewis was aware of the legendary Lancaster Bomber. Lincolnshire was very influential during WW2 along with other parts of the eastern seaboard for strategic bombing over Germany and Poland. Lancaster’s would use the Boston Stump and Lincoln Cathedral as markers for landing if they were lucky enough to return from a mission. Many thousands of men died during the Bomber Command period during WW2, it was however a critical part of winning the war.
During a conversation over a Sunday dinner a family member was discussing spending time with a veteran who was a friend and his stories of the war. Lewis arrange to meet the gentleman and there began an amazing priverlige.
Out of the 3 men Fred Crawley was the first to be interviewed. Fred flew over 70 missions, some extremely important to our success of WW2. He had like all the men witnessed unimaginable things from the air. Cities of infernos, heavy bombing, being fired upon, but also training accidents that could have been deadly. He also had his dear wife Joyce, they were sweethearts split by the war but re united after. Freds legacy lives on as some of his stories have been documented by others but fond memories are left from the times Lewis spent with him.
The second chap Lewis had the fortune to meet was the very light hearted Sidney Beaver. Sidney resided in South London and Lewis was given his details by the Shoreham Aircraft Museum. Sid was a real character, a very down to earth, one of the boys type of man. He was living alone as his wife had passed many years before.
His house was like a museum, papers everywhere, and many things on view for him to remember from the past. Some were humorous but many were very important to him reminding him of friends long gone to the war. Sidney was shot down on his 11 mission and they crashed in France. Only two survived and Sid managed to get back to England escaping POW camp. Lewis and Sid made a journey to RAF Hendon and assisted by the curator we managed to help Sid underneath one of the Last Lancs on display.
The last gent was a lovely man called Ben May. Ben resided in Canterbury, he was also the youngest of the three to be interviewed. Ben was a photographer working on board the Halifax Bomber. It was nearing the end of the war, Ben explained his daily role as a photographer on board the aircraft, there were many scary moments during his time but his career as an avian photographer carried on after the war. Ben was one of the first to be able to document Concorde from the air.
Lewis had the real fortune of spending time with these Wonderful people, The war had made a massive impact on all three and there was not one visit to any of them without a tear being wept. We live in a very different world today, but what sort of world would it had been without people like these three men risking their lives for peoples futures.
I will be forever honoured to have spent personal time with all three.
Once the men had been interviewed Kevin Widdowson, a family fried of Lewis offered to take him above the South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire landscape so they could document discussed runways from the air. Kevin flew a Grob, a training plane for those wanting to learn to become a pilot. From 2000ft the runways and derelict building from WW2 were clear to see and the remanence of crops taking the place off runways visible to the eye.
Thank you again Kev.