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15 October 2014
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The First Canadian Built Lancaster

by cambsaction

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Derek Daniels
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21 December 2005

The first Canadian built Lancaster flew into Britain, to Gransden Lodge. They called it the Ruhr Express.

I was between 8 and 9 yrs old, when the first Canadian built Lancaster flew into Britain, to Gransden Lodge. They called it the Ruhr Express.

You weren’t allowed up there really, but I went up there with my Dad once, he was a land worker and they had to vacate the fields at the end of the runway when the planes took off on a bombing raid.

I went up there once, and I went into a Halifax plane — all you could see were dials, that’s all I remember.

The war ended when I was about 10, so I didn’t really take it in, or understand.

We had a party when the war ended, it was in the school field — they found food from somewhere, even though we still on rations.

We had to take our gas masks. My Dad built a bomb shelter in the garden, he made it himself.

We had some lodgers — both called Michael, so one was ‘Mickey’ and the other Michael. They were building the living quarters around the edge of the Gransden airfield. After them, they went and then we had two lorry drivers from Southend, they lodged during the week and went home at weekends. We’re still friends with them now….

In 1943, King Peter of Yugoslavia was in Great Gransden, which I can vaguely remember. I have two photos — one of King Peter playing darts at the school, and another of him in Novmber time outside great Gransden Church.. The man on the right of the photo was Mr Dean of the Beds and Herts Regiment, on guard duty. He kept this photo in his pocket for years and years… Many years later, his daughter in Holland was trying to find out where this photo was taken.. I responded to her as I recognised the setting and scenery.

I’ve now found out who lots of the other people in the photo were too.

This photo shows that even King Peter had to carry a gas mask!

I remember the celbrations on VJ Day. Around the village, people set fire to several haystacks and bonfires, but not near the WAAF quarters…. Because that’s where all the ‘nookie’ happened!! It was always said that a lorry went round the airfields hooting loudly which meant that they were needed urgently back at the base.

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