Updated: Apr 20
If you are already a member of our Facebook Group you will remember that I recently I paid a visit to the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln.
Opened in 2018 the Centre had been on my list of places to visit for some time & I was not disappointed!
The IBCC’s focus is to acknowledge the service of some million men & women from 62 nations who contributed to the Bomber Offensive during WWII. As well as focusing on the stories of the Airmen it also tells the stories of those who served as Ground Crew, within the Auxiliary Air Transport, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, Auxiliary Transport Services & the NAAFI (Navy, Army & Air Force institute).
As a unit Bomber Command suffered the highest losses during WWII & to this day they still struggle for recognition. It is worth remembering that 55,573 Aircrew would lose their lives during the War & that all of them had been volunteers.
The idea for the centre began in 2009 when the then Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire would form a trust to create a memorial that would not only commemorate those who served in the strategic force but also recognise the contribution of Lincolnshire in the outcome of WWII.
The Centres remit would be to capture the stories of those who served, which they could not have done without the help of a massive team of volunteers worldwide. This amazing team work tirelessly to preserve these stories by recording audio experiences, scanning letters, documents, images & much more so that they could not only be used in the centre but also that they be made readily available for the public to search & learn from via the IBCC Digital Archive. If you had a relative who served with Bomber Command then there is always the chance you might find details relating to them within this Archive. If not then it is always possible to learn more by looking at other holdings in relation to their Squadron, Station, POW Camp or similar.
Visiting the IBCC
The IBCC is an interesting visit for Adults & Children alike. The main building or Chadwick Centre contains exhibition galleries that tell the story through time of the Bomber Offensive. There are interactive displays & opportunities to listen to the stories of those who served, all of which are both fun & educational. Interestingly the centre is named after Roy Chadwick who invented the Lancaster Bomber.
As an example, in the centre of their main exhibition hall lies an interactive board that allows participants to assume their position in a WWII Bomber to take part in a Bombing Raid. During this time each of you get to carry out the duties that each crew member would have performed to get the job done. This is not only informative but fun for the kids!
Lots of short videos tell the stories of not only the offensive but highlight experiences of those who served in the various trades. There are also a wide range of display boards, images & exhibits.
I love that the Centre has lots for Children to do including dressing up, activity sheets & book stations.
The Centre also includes a reasonably priced gift shop with lots of Aviation themed items including books, t-shirts, glasses, mugs & lots of small pocket money toys to delight the kids.
There is also an amazing Café which offers ‘Ration Packed Lunches’ for the Children.
Within the Peace Garden you will find the Memorial Spire & Wall of Names, if you do not wish to go through the exhibition then you are able to visit these for free. However, if you choose to visit the Exhibition which I would highly recommend, then a guided tour of these is also available.
The Spire Memorial sits at the end of the Gardens & is 102 Feet high, this being the wingspan of an Avro Lancaster Bomber. The Memorial overlooks Lincoln & the City
Surrounding this is the Wall of Names or Wall of Remembrance, these steel weathered panels list approx. 58,000 names of the men & women who died whilst serving with Bomber Command. If you are not able to visit then you are able to search for a relative’s name online via their losses database.
The walkway between the Spire & Centre also includes ground stones or ‘Supporter Stones’ these stones have been purchased by Supporters to not only remember loved ones who served but also as a way of supporting the centre & the important work that it does.
The IBCC host a range of themed events throughout the year which include 1940s events, Quiz nights, Craft Sessions, Classic Car & Arts Events so there is something for everyone!
The Centre can also offer a range of educational events for Schools or organisations who wish to visit or be visited & there is also an option for organisations to book ‘handling collections’ which include original artefacts.
The IBCC also has the space to accommodate Corporate Events, Family Celebrations & much more.
Tickets for the IBCC are easily bookable via the website & include day passes, family passes as well as annual & life membership options. Ordering online also offers discounts, so if you are visiting as part of a group this is a must.
On the Website
As well as the Losses Database & Digital Archive already mentioned the website contains a wealth of information & resources to enable the reader to learn more.
Check out the Veterans Stories Section & select a trade to learn more about their experiences.
Download the IBCC Digital App to explore the centre & dig deeper into the stories.
You can also purchase items from the shop online
Volunteer with the IBCC
Have a special interest in Bomber Command & some spare time on your hands? Why not register (as I have) & become a volunteer, you don’t need to live locally as volunteers worldwide are made welcome. Training can be provided both in person or virtually, if you have some time spare why not get involved.
Below, you can also view my recent YouTube Slideshow of images taken on the day.
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