The 2016 reunion took place over the weekend 6 - 8 May. The committee got its skins and bones out, entreating the Rain God of Lincolnshire to look kindly upon our event and we were rewarded with a weekend of extraordinarily good weather.
The opening event, a convivial Meet and Greet, was held, as last year, in the Officers’ Mess at RAF Waddington on Friday evening. Saturday’s programme started with lunch at Mill Lodge, followed by a visit to the International Bomber Command Centre on Canwick Hill. We were given an interesting briefing on the development of the memorial site and told of current and projected work to turn this project into a major attraction of national and international significance. Unfortunately the Lancaster of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was unable to make its expected appearance because of ongoing technical issues.
The Annual Dinner on Saturday had to be shifted at very short notice to the SNCO’s Mess because of problems with the kitchens at the Officers’ Mess. We were most grateful to the SNCO’s Mess for their willingness to host our dinner under these circumstances and the event went off without any further hitches.
A service of remembrance was held at Dunholme Lodge Farm on Sunday morning. The Reverend Ian Partridge officiated and musical accompaniment was provided by members of the RAF Waddington Station Band. Once more we were indebted to the Wykes family of Dunholme Lodge Farm who so generously hosted our service. They regularly go to great lengths to ensure we are comfortable, even providing a carpeted open-sided marquee to keep the congregation warm and dry if the weather refuses to cooperate. On this occasion they surpassed themselves by ‘arranging’ for the Red Arrows’ Synchro Pair to roar over the farm several times, adding appropriate emphasis to the Padre’s words of welcome.
Colin Watt, our Life Vice-President, is justly famous for his exceptional record of attendance at our reunions, but failing health now prevents him making the journey from Australia. Undeterred, Rob Rymer opened a mobile phone line enabling Colin to listen to the service in real time and afterwards our Chairman and several other members were able to chat to him.
Jan Willis, an Associate Member from Canada, must be getting used to remarkable coincidences at our reunions. She attended this year’s event, along with her three sons, and had paid tribute to her husband’s uncle during the memorial service. Paul Bass, who is not a member of our Association, just happened to be at Dunholme Lodge that morning to photograph the open gardens. On hearing that Paul was also commemorating that day the death of an uncle who had been a mid-upper gunner on 44 Squadron flying from Dunholme Lodge, we felt the two should meet. They were duly introduced and it transpired that Paul’s uncle had also died in the same Lancaster crash. An astonishing coincidence, rivalled only by a previous chance encounter at the 2014 Reunion when Jan Willis bumped into David Warren!
The assembled company took themselves off to the nearby Farmers’ Arms for the closing lunch. The BBMF’s Dakota was expected to make a few passes and the crowd gathered outside the pub to watch. There must have been a degree of confusion in the tasking message because the overflight did happen - but over the Dunholme Lodge Memorial rather than over the audience at the pub a few miles away!