Last time, I was talking to you about Len Dorricott, who had flown a large number of missions as the navigator in one of the most famous Avro Lancasters of World War Two, AR-G, G for George, of 460 Squadron of the RAAF. The vast majority of what you read, though, was written not by myself, but by Len’s wife, Rosemary. And meeting her future husband, apparently, was not Rosemary’s first encounter with the Avro Lancaster and the men who flew them.
She had actually had a much earlier connection with Lancaster aircrew. Here she recalls her childhood, and in particular the wonderful sights and sounds which were there at the end of her garden:
“Rosemary Dorricott : Childhood Memories Aged Nine
We stood in the garden in silence—and waited as dusk grew near—then the heavy throbbing of engines broke into the tranquillity of a summer’s night:
It was wartime—a time of austerity and uncertainty but the beautiful summer’s air belied the horrors of what war could bring!
Those heavy engines roared over our heads.
It was hard to believe those beautiful, graceful machines could be the bearers of destruction—but that was war and the means of our salvation!!
We thought of those young men going into the unknown whose mission it was to successfully accomplish the task they so bravely took on ! We counted each majestic machine, heavy with their bomb load and said a prayer for each one—and then the summer’s night returned to its tranquil peacefulness, as if there had been no disruption !!
It was dawn before we heard the first sounds of aircraft returning.
The sounds had changed—some with spluttering engines as they limped home.
Large gaps appearing in the order of their flight—and we knew, as we counted them back—that some would not return !!!
Dedicated to the Lancaster bomber
World War Two 1939-1945
* * *
Over seventy years later, I stood on the tarmac at Coningsby with my veteran air crew husband. Bomber Command Memorial Occasions have taken a great part of his life recently, and he is now receiving great recognition for what he and his fellow RAF bomber crews did during the war, much deserved, and, not because of all this, I love and cherish him for the man he is — My Len ! !
One final detail that I feel I should pass on is that G for George is probably the most widely recognised Lancaster among ordinary people and certainly among little boys over the age of fifty.
G for George was, of course, the first Lancaster that you could make a plastic model of, when Airfix brought out their 1-72 scale kit. It was originally, I seem to remember, in a box , or perhaps with a fold-over card top that kept all the little bits of the kit safe in their plastic bag. I think it was a Series 5 kit, price 7/6, or 37½ pence.
Here is is the fold-over card top which had a transparent plastic bag full of parts stapled to it:
And then came the artwork of Roy Cross, when the kits were sold in large, sturdy cardboard boxes:
I’ve always thought that Cross’s work should have been turned into prints on good quality paper, suitable for framing.