You can’t make this stuff up….. Every trip something happens out of the blue that nails us all. Spire
monument isn’t open yet but we had special treatment and had it opened to us this morning when
out of nowhere this chap turns up with his family. Ex 617 and other squadrons. DFC and bar. Flt Lt
Ken Trent. Couldn’t have been happier to chat with us and tell us stories. Then suddenly the BBMF
Dakota which Ken has flown does a flyby dipping its wings and crew waving at low level. Money can’t
FB post from Dambusters2016 rider Al Coates on 15 th May 2016.
The first to set off on Dambusters2016 was Jonathan Maxwell who left from the Orkney Islands on
Wednesday night to begin his ride down to our Saturday evening meeting point of the Dambusters
Inn in the Lincolnshire village of Scampton. The rest of us set off towards ‘Bomber County’ in time to
be ready for Saturday’s competition which focused on riders visiting as many of the ww2 bomber
Command bases as the could ahead of getting to the Dambusters Inn by 6.30pm that evening. The
beauty of this is that it did not matter where a rider started from as he could plot his own route in
taking in bomber command bases from Durham to Norfolk, Nottinghamshire to Cambridgeshire. And
that is exactly what they did too on bikes from the obligatory 1200GS to the most meticulously
restored vintage Ariel, Rossi coloured CBR600 to Suzuki V-Strom visiting the bases and the
memorials that recognise the incredible bravery and sacrifice made by the aircrew of bomber
command more than 55,000 of which never made it home.
By 6.30pm everyone was at the Dambusters Inn which by happy coincidence was having its annual
beer festival!Our final arrival landed at about 7pm having ridden up from spending the day in his day
job as a Triumph Ambassador at the MCN Festival at Peterborough – Rhys Lawrey also known by his
alias as the 2mororider. (www.2mororider.com) Rhys is the current holder of two Guinness World
Records; World Record – Youngest Circumnavigation by Motorcycle and Most Consecutive Capital
Cities visited by Motorcycle. We were delighted to have him with us to present our prizes perhaps
the most unique of which was an Airfix model of the Dambusters Lancaster which had been signed
by the last UK Dambuster George ‘Johnny’ Johnson and all 9 of this years Red Arrows!
Sunday morning dawned with blazing sunshine and azure blue skies. A lazy start was required on
account of the previous evening’s frivolities so a long slow breakfast at the Sentry Post Snack Bar at
the back of RAF Waddington was the opening event for most of us. It is amazing the restorative
powers that are held in a good bacon and egg bap washed down with a hot cup of black coffee!
First stop of the day was at the International Bomber Command Centre Spire and Memorial Walls.
Although not officially open to the public the trust that runs the site gave us a guided tour of the
amazing rust coloured spire and walls which bear the names of all those lost on bomber raids taking
off from the bases within the ‘Bomber County’ of Lincolnshire. It is a humbling, moving and amazing
place. It was as we were just about to head off from there towards Woodhall Spa that we met Flt. Lt.
Ken Trout DFC & Bar. He and his family had arrived on the off chance of a visit and seeing the gates
open had come down to the spire site itself so it was pure serendipity that we met him and also that
as we chatted and listened to his stories that the Dakota of the BBMF flew just over the spire rocking
it’s wings in salute to the fallen.
A short ride to Woodhall Spa to visit the 617 Squadron Memorials to those lost during WW2 and the
recently completed one to those lost since WW2 was next for the Dambusters riders before we were
again on the bikes towards the village of Scopwick where there is a small War Grave Cemetery
containing 50 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War and five German war graves.
Amongst them are 37 Canadian airmen who lost their lives while stationed at Digby. They include an
American airmen who served with the RCAF, P/O J G Magee, whose poem ‘High Flight’ became
widely known. And then it was over for another year, a further £2000 raised for our charities,
friendships renewed, and commitments for 2017’s ride.