Elsham veterans back at wartime base

Veterans who attended this year's Elsham Wolds Reunion pictured by the memorial candle of 103 squadron.'From the left - Airmen Basil Lowe, John Funnell, Ted Mawdsley, Fred Spencer, President Gordon Mellor and Margaret Bailey, who was a transport driver. EMN-140409-070836001
Veterans who attended this year's Elsham Wolds Reunion pictured by the memorial candle of 103 squadron.'From the left - Airmen Basil Lowe, John Funnell, Ted Mawdsley, Fred Spencer, President Gordon Mellor and Margaret Bailey, who was a transport driver. EMN-140409-070836001
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More than 1,300 men flew from Elsham Wolds airfield in World War 2 and never returned - but they will not be forgotten.

Each year those that remain journey back to the village to recall those war time days at the key bomber base.

And every year they are fewer in number and all bar one of the veterans that remain is aged over 90 - this year seven returned to Elsham.

President of the Association is Gordon Mellor (94) who served as a navigator at the base.

On his 17th raid he was shot down over Holland in 1942 but escaped capture and after a long trek through continental Europe he finally arrived in Spain and then Gibraltar from where he was flown home.

Much of his remaining service in the RAF was training navigators.

“I flew Halifax and Wellington bombers from Elsham that were based here with 103 squadron. I never flew a Lancaster.

“It was a bit bleak at Elsham in winter. It seemed a big open space with lots of room and wide views over the countryside.

“I flew 42 raids before being shot down.”

Mr Mellor still recalls vividly his time at the base:

“We shall now call ourselves ‘The Magnificent Men’.”

“They were brave and fearless, flying out night after night over the Lincolnshire coast, across the North Sea and on into occupied Europe.

“Those men also had ‘magnificent flying machines!’

The veterans and friends enjoyed a tea dance in Elsham Village Hall before lighting a candle at the start of the reunion dinner, where they were joined by relatives of former members and other members of the Elsham Wolds Association.

On Sunday there was a service at the former airfield, where a memorial stands to the memory of those who were at the base and lost their lives

Wreaths were laid and there was also a flypast of the two Lancaster bombers.

New secretary of the association is Jennie Mackay from York who has taken over from Angela Vora of Barnetby.

The treasurer now is Keith Macrea, who also edits the 
association newsletter.

The veterans will also have a reunion service on Sunday November 2 in Elsham Parish Church, starting at 10am.