Left - newspaper cutting headline - a Lancaster again thunders over Lincs. Article by Ken Lee, war artist, who had been commissioned to paint a picture of the only remaining Waddington Lancaster. Tells of his trip in the Lancaster.
Top right - certificate of competence for Warrant Officer Sparkes as flight engineer all trade groups for Lancaster.
Bottom centre - newspaper cutting with photograph of Lancaster, Hurricane, Spitfire and Lightnings parked on hardstanding at Coltishall with hangars in the background.
Bottom right - two men wearing civilian suits standing talking under the nose of a Lancaster. Text explains that they are Dr Barnes Wallace and Wing Commander R A B Learoyd VC.



Temporal Coverage



Three newspaper cuttings and one printed document mounted on an album page

Is Part Of


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit and





[underlined] WARTIME MEMORIES ARE RECALLED [/underlined]

A Lancaster again thunders over Lincs

By KEN LEE who has just been appointed war artist to the R.A.F. and who has been commissioned to paint a picture of the only remaining Waddington Lancaster.

I VAGUELY remember the war. I lived near an aerodrome and would often lie awake listening to the constant drone of the aircraft as they circled overhead before forming up for a raid.

If the sirens sounded we would all sit under the stairs listening to the distant crump of exploding bombs. I sat there and was never allowed out into the backyard to see the searchlights and glowing tracer.

Only Mr. Pearson was allowed [missing word] do this for he was the street fire warden and consequently had custody of the street ladder and street stirrup pump.

For me the sight and sound of a Lancaster bomber evokes myriad emotions. It means adventure, excitement, danger and courage. I understand the comradeship qualities of human interdependence and trust it brought to many men. It means my early youth and in someway I feel my future was saved by this aeroplane.

Last Friday I fullfilled a lifetime ambition by flying in a Lancaster bomber. Stationed at R.A.F. Waddington it is the only Lancaster that still flies.

B for Betty, serial No. PA474 started its career in 82 squadron as a photo-reconnaisance [sic] aircraft with the Middle East Air Force.

From 1952 it was used for flight refuelling until August 1962, when a laminarized wing was placed in the upper dorsal fuselage for airflow research at Cranfield.

Normally the crew for a Lancaster was seven; pilot, navigator, air bomber, flight engineer, wireless operator/air gunner and two air gunners.

On Friday this was reduced to three, namely pilot, Group Captain Griffith; one co-pilot/navigator. Wing Commander Wilson; flight engineer, Warrant Officer Sparkes. As a passenger I was designated No. 4 We went to Finningley where the Lancaster was to take part in the Battle of Britian celebrations.

First of all, a visit to the Met. Office. Cloud base 2,000 ft; wind speed at ground level, zero knots; wind speed at 2,000 ft., eight knots. Over on the runways the windsock hung limply; above there was a blue sky, perfect; wing commander weather. Then [missing letters]tting out.

A helmet with oxygen masks, flight overalls complete with maps and three waterproof paper bags, parachute harness and Mae West. Crew instructions were very gloomy, seeing it was Friday the 13th, and centred on what to do if anything "went wrong." The working of escape hatches was shown, parachute techniques and crash landing procedures explained. "If anything happens we're going through the nose."

We climbed in, up the thin metal steps through the door, at least an experience I've now shared with such men as Nettleton, Thompson, Mynarski, Palmer and Jackson.

Along the dark fuselage of light alloy, I clamber over the bomb bays, across the main beam into the cockpit, taking my seat in the wireless operator's position just below the astrodome and look out through the observation window across the broad port wing.

Further checks, "Glycol spray full?" Mr. Sparkes dashing around. Cellophane strip needed. Wing Commander Wilson dons his white kid flying gloves and takes out his maps. Intercom plugged in.

The signal is given to the ground crew, three fingers held up – fire number three engine! The three- bladed De Haviland DH 5/40 constant pitch variable airscrews swing round and whirl into life. Number four engine, number two engine, number one engine.

Pilot of Lancaster to control tower: "taxi clearance please" – "clear to taxi." Chocks away. Ground crew refire [sic] quickly, and as the skipper brakes on port wheels we leave dispersed point No. 8 and taxi towards the runway. Revs are pushed up, the wheels strain, the fabric vibrates.

W.O. Sparkes on the intercom. "We're not getting enough revs on No. 2 engine." Group Captain Griffith pushes the throttle forward. "Still not enough power." – "Try tapping the dial." – "No joy, sir." – "Switch generator off and on." – "Still nothing – it's always like this sir." – "O.K. let's go."

Brakes off, throttle open, rapidly gaining speed, racing forward we take off at 1.000 yards. Rate of climb is 250 ft./min. Course set and height given to control tower. "Roger over and out."

We bank heavily to port, below the pattern of harvested [two indecipherable words], stubble burning fitfully and to our left, Waddington, with it's squadrons of Vulcans at dispersal.

"No. 2 engine generating full power now!" – "The thing just needed warming up."

The Frazer Nash 5 forward turret points towards Lincoln. Once again four Rolls Royce X Merlin engines sing strongly in the Lincolnshire sky.

The Cathedral is sighted. A dummy bomb run. I touch the silk stocking I have in my breast pocket. "Target in sight. Steady as you go." "There goes a searchlight at 12 o'clock.

"I've got it. Steady, Steady Crosshairs on! Bomb doors open! Bombs selected and fused. Left, left, steady. Enemy fighter 3 o'clock closing! I think he's seen us. Evasive action, go, go, go" - "We've on bomb run, fight him off."

"Steady, right. Steady. Bombs gone! Bomb doors closed. Get the hell out of here!"

"Heading 320 deg. How did it go?" – "Reargunner to Captain, overshot with incendaries. G.P's on target. I see dust, now flame."

Two more manouvres [sic] over Lincoln looking like toytown, and the first leg is over; on to Gainsborough. Radio contact with Finningley, approaching threshold. Co-pilot points to his left "There it is!"

"Waddington Lancaster to Finningley, speed 185, height 1,000 reducing to 800. I'll make two circles and come in." – "Finningley control to Lancaster, could you come straight in, we've got lots of traffic today."

For the landing we snap our safety belts on. A perfect three-pointer. We taxi back down the runway, an officer takes a photograph and Mr. Sparkes reports that brake pressure is O.K. Guided to our place of rest we go through the shut down routine, do up our top collar buttons and climb out. For Avro Lanc PA 474 it's another successful trip.

I liked Waddington with its university atmosphere and easy efficiency, so different from the two years I spent in the Army.

Before take-off, Group Captain Griffith standing on the steps of Waddington Operational Centre, scanned the runways, his eyes screwed up against the sun's glare and said, "You know, today's flight will cause more interest than any of these vulcans flying around."

He could have added that the Lancaster at Waddington is a hiring symbol of the proud place that aircraft has in history, and from that proud place no man can remove its name.

[page break]

R.A.F. Form 4124
(To be inserted in Flying Log Books – R.A.F. Forms 414 or 1767)


Warrant Officer

(Name and Initials)

has been examined by a Local Trade Test Board and has been passed as competent to undertake certain parts of the First-Line Servicing on Aircraft of the Types shown below. He has been re-examined successfully on the dates shown.

[a] Unit [b] Aircraft Type [c] Trade Groups [d] Date Authorised as Competent [e] Signature and Rank of Senior Technical Officer [f] Periodic Re-examinations – Date – Signature

[a] RAF Waddington [b] Lancaster [c] All Groups [d] 16 Oct 68 [e] [signature] (M.C. Ferguson) Wing Commander OC Eng Wing

[page break]

PICTURED on arrival at Coltishall is the Lancaster flown in from Waddington by Gp Capt Griffiths. It was escorted into the circuit by Gp Capt Stacey, OC Coltishall, flying a Spitfire of the Historical Flight.

Dr. Barnes Wallis (left), inventor of the "Dambuster" bomb, chats with Wg Cdr R.A.B. Learoyd, V.C., who won his award when serving at Scampton. In the background is seen the R.A.F.'s last surviving Lancaster.



“Lancaster,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 23, 2024,

Item Relations

This item has no relations.