BOMBER COMMAND COUNTRY TOUR
JOIN TED BARRIS AS WE EXPLORE THE CANADIANS’ ROLE IN THIS REMARKABLE WWII STORY.
Facing the prospect that Hitler’s armies might cross the Channel and invade, in 1940, Britons braced for The Blitz, intense German bombing of the U.K. In this darkest hour, the Royal Air Force’s Arthur Harris said, “They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.” Almost immediately, Commonwealth aircrews – many of them Canadian – gathered at air bases across Britain to fly nightly against enemy targets in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Our new “Bomber Command Country Tour” takes travellers to the heart of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Our stops in Yorkshire include: Andrew Mynarski Memorial; Betty’s Café and Tea Room; guided tour of former station RAF Tholthorpe; Yorkshire Air Museum, and visit to York’s famous Railway Museum and York Minster cathedral. Then in Lincolnshire: a guided tour of RAF Scampton, home of Dam Buster 617 Squadron; International Bomber Command Centre; RAF East Kirkby, home of “Just Jane” Lancaster; RAF Coningsby, home of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight; and Lincoln cathedral, all while based at our home-away-from-home the unique Petwood Hotel, WWII quarters of the Dam Busters Squadron. Also, stops at IWM Duxford, RAF Hendon, Cambridge American Cemetery and full-day tour in London visiting related Bomber Command sites.
• Round-trip airfare
• Plaza Premium airport lounge pass
• York: four nights 4-star hotel accommodation at the Grange Hotel
• Lincolnshire: four nights 4-star hotel accommodation at the Petwood Hotel
• London: two nights 4-star hotel accommodation at the Danubius Hotel Regents Park
• 10 breakfasts, two lunches and six dinners
• Private motor coach transportation
• Professional local tour director for the duration of the tour
• Merit Travel tour host*
• All taxes and gratuities
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Day 1 – Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019 – Toronto-London
Depart Toronto Air Canada Flight 848; departs Toronto at 20:40 p.m., arrives London, Heathrow at 8:35 a.m. the following day.
Day 2: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 – London-York (dinner)
After arrival at the London airport, travellers will rendezvous with our tour guide for the trip, Edward Foster, and our driver and coach for the northbound trip to the City of York, the starting point of our tour of Bomber Command stations of WWII. On this first evening, we’ll enjoy a Welcome Dinner with the entire tour group. It’s a Ted Barris tour tradition. It’s a first opportunity to meet and share the anticipation of the coming days of travel and exploration. Check into the Grange Hotel for four nights.
The Grange Hotel 4*
1 Clifton | York YO30 6AA | Tel: 44 1904 644744
Day 3: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019 – York
Breakfast at the hotel. Our route takes north from City of York to visit several No. 6 (RCAF) Bomber Group station sites and commemorative locations, including RAF Middleton St. George (Andrew Mynarski memorial, small M.S.G. museum on-site, and coffee break); RAF Croft (quick stop to visit memorial); RAF Skipton-on-Swale (short visit at derelict station hut and short stop at
in-town crash site). At midday we arrive at town of Tholthorpe and the New Inn for lunch. After lunch, we meet local historian and long-time resident of Tholthorpe, Geoff Wood, who has memories of RAF Tholthorpe station, and the principally Canadian bomber crews who flew from the station. Geoff will take us onto the station grounds for two-hour tour. Among the featured
locations of the RAF Tholthorpe station visit is the original station control tower; it was purchased privately by Rosie & Paul Walker who now run an Airbnb operation there. En route back to York, we’ll pass RAF Linton-on-Ouse a working air station; we can stop beside the airfield and if aircraft are flying, take photos. Return to hotel. Overnight at our lodgings in York.
Day 4: Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 – York
Breakfast at hotel. Today we visit and tour several attractions in the city, including its Railway Museum (two hours); York Minster Cathedral. We then make our way to The Shambles in the old town portion of York where 14th century buildings offer an array of shops and restaurants; the group will shop and lunch at will and have the afternoon to themselves. Overnight at our lodgings in York.
Day 5: Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 – York
After breakfast at the hotel, we travel southeast from York to the sprawling 20-acre Yorkshire Air Museum facility at Elvington. Among its many attractions: over 60 aircraft and vehicles, “Friday the 13th,” Halifax Bomber in Europe; original 1940s RAF base buildings, huts and hangars; 15 indoor exhibitions highlighting all the bomber and fighter aircrew trades as well as restaurant and a souvenir shop. After a half-day at the Yorkshire Air Museum, the group returns to York. Tonight our group reconvenes for a special evening gathering at Betty’s Café and Tea Room, the regular eatery and watering hole for many Canadian aircrewmen who were stationed in the area and serving in Bomber Command during WWII. At 8:45 p.m. enjoy dinner in Betty’s Tea Rooms-Belmont Room. Overnight at our lodgings in York.
Day 6: Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 – York-Lincolnshire
(breakfast, lunch, dinner)
We leave York, but make one final stop in the part of Bomber Command Country where No. 6 (RCAF) Bomber Group (principally Canadian airmen were stationed) at the Stonefall Cemetery at Harrogate. Nearly all of the 988 Second World War burials in Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery are of airmen, two-thirds of them Canadian. We will take 30-60 minutes to visit Canadian graves and leave flags and poppies as is our tradition. Leaving Yorkshire, we travel south and west to the High Peak District (west of
Sheffield) to visit the Derwent Dam and Reservoir, over which the Dam Buster crews trained in spring 1943 for the raid against the Ruhr River dams. Our lunch spot is a favourite in the area, the Ladybower Inn. Following lunch, we travel southeast into Lincolnshire to Woodhall Spa and our lodgings for the next four nights, the Petwood Hotel, which – after the May 1943 raid – became the officers’ mess for No. 617 RAF Squadron, by then known as the Dam Busters Squadron. Check into the Petwood Hotel at Woodhall Spa and enjoy dinner this evening at the hotel.
The Petwood Hotel
Stixwood Road | Woodhall Spa | Lincolnshire LN10 6QG
Tel: 44 1526 351900
Day 7 – Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 – Lincolnshire
The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre is an aviation museum in East Kirkby. It was opened to the public in 1988 by Lincolnshire farmers Fred and Harold Panton, as a memorial to their older brother, Christopher Whitton Panton, who
died during WWII. The centre’s main exhibit is Avro Lancaster Mk VII, NX611, named “Just Jane” after a popular wartime comic character. As well, on this day, our travels take us to the centre of the City of Lincoln, over which towers the famous Lincoln Cathedral. Our visit will include a specially arranged stop to the chapel set aside to commemorate Britain’s war dead. While our trip has not included as many cemetery visits as usual, one important destination will be the small Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery near Scopwick, where visitors can attend the grave of John Gillespie McGee, the RCAF pilot, born in China, raised in the U.S., trained as a pilot in Canada, and author of the famous poem “High Flight.” McGee died in a training accident in 1941 and is buried near the station where he served. Over the first three evenings spent at the Petwood, we anticipate two of the nights at the hotel would include a Petwood Presentation specifically on the Dam Busters and Petwood Hotel themes. For one of the nights a Dam Busters historian would deliver a talk/presentation. On the other night, Emma Brealey, director of the Petwood, will reveal the history of the Petwood and its extraordinary (if eccentric) Lady Grace
Emily Weigall Maple. Overnight and dinner at our lodgings the Petwood.
Day 8 – Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 – Lincolnshire
One important stop of the day is a tour of the RAF Scampton base. Based on our investigation trip visit in the summer of 2018, we will meet our experienced guide Tom Evans for a full tour of RAF Scamption, home of No. 617 RAF “Dam Busters” Squadron; the tour will take up half a day and Tom and another guide will each take half of our group for the tour of Guy Gibson’s office, squadron exhibits and displays. The other major stop of the day is the International Bomber Command Centre, an interpretation centre and memorial relating the historical impact of Bomber Command during WWII. The museum facility offers the stories of
the servicemen and women who carried out the wartime actions of Bomber Command; in that sense, it’s more an interactive introduction to the lives of those who served. Outside the museum, but within the grounds is the Spire Memorial (made of COR-TEN, a weathering steel) erected in 2015, reflecting the connection to Lincoln Cathedral and standing 102-feet high (wingspan of a Lancaster bomber). The spire is encircled by walls carrying the names of all 57,871 men and women who gave their lives while serving in or supporting Bomber Command. The evening our group is free to have dinner at leisure in the village of Woodhall Spa. Overnight at our lodgings at the Petwood.
Day 9 – Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 – Lincolnshire
Our major stop of the day is to visit RAF Coningsby and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight which provides an aerial display group usually comprising an Avro Lancaster, a Supermarine Spitfire and a Hawker Hurricane, three iconic wartime aircraft flying
operations with the Commonwealth Air Forces during WWII. The aircraft are regularly seen at events commemorating the Second World War and upon British state occasions, notably Trooping the Colour marking Queen Elizabeth’s official
birthday, as well as Royal weddings. However, since we’re visiting in October, the blessing is we’ll see all three aircraft in the hangar. None will be in the air; all will be serviced in the BBMF hangars available for us to see. On this final day in Lincolnshire, we will also allow time to visit the Dam Busters Memorial in the main square of Woodhall Spa; that will allow our travellers to
investigate the village, explore its shops and enjoy a midday meal. The evening is rounded out by our Petwood Presentation (mentioned above). Overnight and dinner at our lodgings the Petwood.
Day 10 – Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 – Lincolnshire-London
We leave the Lincolnshire area and travel to two more aviation must-sees- the world-famous Imperial War Museum at RAF Duxford airfield, complete with a wartime Fighter Command control centre and acres of pristine Second World War aircraft. Then finally stop at the Cambridge American Cemetery which contains such important U.S war dead markers as those of Big Band Leader Glen Miller and Joe Kennedy.The tour then heads back to London for our final nights in Britain. Check into our hotel in London for two nights.
Danubius Hotel Regents Park 4*
18 Lodge Road | St. John’s Wood | London NW8 7JT
Tel: 44 20 7722 7722
Day 11 – Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 – London
Day in downtown London to visit Bomber Command Memorial, Cabinet War Rooms, etc. Enjoy a half day beer-tasting tour with a local guide including tasting four beers in a themed tour. The rest of your afternoon is at leisure for shopping in London.
After the day in London, we gather for another Ted Barris tradition on these tours – the Farewell Dinner.
Day 12 – Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 – London - Toronto
Today we will check out of our hotel and transfer to the airport for our departure for Toronto. Air Canada Flight AC849 departs London, Heathrow at 14:10 p.m. arrives Toronto at 16:55 p.m.
*CDN$ p.p. dbl. occ. Single supplement: $1,100. Airfare available from most Canadian airports, please enquire. *Minimum 30 passengers required for a Merit Travel Tour host.
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