I saved a special post for last. On Monday we had a self guided tour day. This trip I took north of London is the genesis of my motive to take this trip.
My Father was the Pilot of B-17 Bombers flown out of England during the war. He was stationed at a base near the small town of Kimbolten, about 50 miles north of London and close to Camgridge. I have a friend who lives nearby and we met when he came to the states to attend the annual reunion of the 379th Bomb Group Association, of which I, and several other offspring of the airmen were members. Andy has hosted others from our group and is very knowledgable of the history of this Group.
First, I boarded a slow train to near my destination. I was told the slow ones go about 100 mph. The train ride up and back, on a “fast” train, was an interesting part of my trip! Arriving at Stevenage, we motored to the location of the base. We exited the car near some large farm fields and Andy led me through a gate and around some brush and said “look Down, you’re standing on concrete from the runway approaches.” I stamped my feet on the surface and took a picture of them on the concrete. I looked at Andy sheepishly and he laughed and informed me that his other guests had the same response. As I walked around a bit, I welled up with emotion, again he said that was a normal response and he does the same witnessing us. We went to an area where some of the parking pads were still evident, and this helped give me some scale of the layout, as there was very little else remaining of a once very complex facility. As Andy told of some of the history, of which I’ve studied myself, I watched the air to see if I could spot a bomber or hear the roar of the big radial engines. Andy said we all do that too!
after a some time in the fields we visited the beautiful old town of Kimbolten. I especially wanted to see the church as my father, and others at the reunions, had told me of being able to find their way in when the tall steeple stuck out above the fog and mist. I’ll bet some found solace sitting in there sometimes too, I did! It was a beautiful church dating to the 15th century, as was the town.
We then motored to the American Cemetary by Cambridge and toured a nice visitors center and chapel. We visited the grave of a mutual friend’s father, whom she never knew, and sent her pictures of our paying respects.
Near Cambridge is the Duxford Air Museum, a branch of the Imperial War Museum. Most war bird fans regard this site as a geat facility, and they were right. The old base is still a private use airport as well as having the displays from all wars, and restoration hangers that we were allowed in to see airplanes in various stages of total restoration.
This was a very special day as I learned some about this site from my father and much from my several trips to our reunions of the now defunct association. There were too few of the veterans able to come to the conventions. The wonderful thing is that the English, and the French, as shown in Normandy, have preserved so much of these important places and acknowledge apreciation of America’s efforts to help end this war, so that generations of the future, far removed from the participators, will know and remember what it was about!