Tribute by Lancaster

Lancaster bomber at Ladybower Reservoir marking the 50th anniversary of the Dam Buster raid in 1993. Photo: Johnston Press.
Lancaster bomber at Ladybower Reservoir marking the 50th anniversary of the Dam Buster raid in 1993. Photo: Johnston Press.

Buxton’s history will roar back to life on Carnival Day when the last flying Lancaster bomber in the UK will fly over the town.

Between 1.50pm and 2pm on carnival day the bomber will perform a fly-past over Buxton in memory of Buxton marine Scott Taylor and all other local men and women who have died or been injured in the name of our country and as a reminder of Buxton’s RAF History.

Many people may not remember the RAF base at Harpur Hill, built on the site of an old quarry.

Work started in 1938 but because of bad weather the unit didn’t become operational until mid 1940. The facility was at one point the largest underground munitions storage facility in the country, covering close to 500 acres, the site included storage of German Gas weapons and V bombs after the war.

Harpur Hill was one of the RAF’s UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) known as X stations. It was manned by a bomb disposal unit who specialised in disarming German gas bombs. They had to dispose of the mustard gas and phosgene on the hills around Buxton by burning it with bleach. This was a most unsatisfactory method as large volumes of smoke were produced and not all the mustard gas was consumed. Some remained as vapour distributed to the atmosphere. It also killed all the vegetation around.

Harpur was also the base for the RAF Mountain Rescue Team who attended many air crashes in the hills around Derbyshire.

Although the site closed in 1960 there are still townspeople who served in the RAF and were stationed at Harpur Hill and there remains a reminder of the RAF with the road names such as Trenchard Drive, Tedder Avenue and Harris Road.

The Lancaster gained worldwide renown as the ‘Dambuster’ used in the 1943 Operation Chastise raids on Germany’s Ruhr Valley dams.

The Lancaster is a British four engined Second World War heavy bomber, designed by Roy Chadwick in Manchester. It first saw active service in 1942, and it was one of the main heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force. A total of 7,377 were produced but nearly half were lost in action.

The ‘Lanc’, as it was affectionately known, became the most famous and most successful of the Second World War night bombers, delivering 608,612 tons of bombs in 156,000 sorties.

Although the Lancaster was primarily a night bomber, it excelled in many other roles including daylight precision bombing.

The aircraft you will see is named Lancaster B I PA474 “City of Lincoln” and is operated by the Royal Air Force’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. It is the same aircraft that earlier this year performed the fly past after the Royal Wedding (plus a Spitfire, and a Hurricane).

The Lancaster has historic associations with this part of the country. The Derwent dam was used by the Dambusters to train ahead of their mission to destroy three dams in Germany’s Ruhr valley, using the famous ‘bouncing bomb’ invented by Barnes Wallis.

• Pictured: a Lancaster over Ladybower where the Dambusters practised, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the raid in 1993.