THE world’s last two airworthy Lancaster bombers will fly over Windermere in a remarkable memorial to a wartime Bomber Command veteran.
The iconic flypast next month will mark what would have been the 100th birthday of Archie Johnstone, who flew with the legendary Dambusters’ squadron and helped destroy the feared German battleship Tirpitz in a daring raid over the Norwegian fjords in 1944.
Archie’s son Robert organised the flight as a surprise birthday present for the former 617 Squadron bomb aimer but Archie died in April – less than five months from his centenary celebration.
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However, Robert was determined the epic flypast should go ahead in his father’s memory and this will take place as planned on September 7.
To make the day extra special, Brockhole visitor centre is also planning a family event with a Second World War theme.
“Dad helped destroy Tirpitz, the pride of the German fleet, in an attack using Barnes Wallis’ ‘Tallboy’ bombs,” said Robert. “The sinking took out Hitler’s naval power in northern waters.
“By chance, Canada’s Lancaster is currently in Britain for a series of special events with our own much loved hero of the skies. Together, the two iconic aeroplanes will salute Bomber Command’s huge contribution to the outcome of the Second World War.
“Over 55,500 of its airman lost their lives - the average age was just 22. It is particularly poignant and wonderful that the last flying Lancasters can commemorate my father’s contribution.
“When he died earlier this year, aged 99, he was the oldest surviving member of Bomber Command.”
Scots-born Archie, who was a policeman in Windermere before the war, spent his last years in Grange-over-Sands and enjoyed visiting Brockhole.
“Dad and I were regular visitors and both able to get to the lakeshore in our wheelchairs. It is absolutely right that this incredible event should take place there.”
Neil Manning, manager of the Lake District National Park visitor centre at Brockhole, said it was hugely exciting and everyone was hoping for good enough weather conditions to allow the flights.
“The likes of this will never happen again. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these amazing and evocative old aircraft flying.
“We are planning a fabulous family day, encouraging people to enter into the spirit of the occasion by dressing up, eating our special wartime food, listening to great 40s music and enjoying exhibitions and displays.
“It’s exhilarating and exceptional and we’re determined to make the most of it.
“There will be a marching band, British Legion poppy picnic, children’s activities and some very atmospheric things to do and see.
“Precise timings for the fly-past will be announced nearer the time.”