Operation Failed to Return DVD
The men who flew from Skellingthorpe – 50 and 61 Squadrons RAF in wartime


As Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham said: “You could hardly build an airfield closer to a city.”

The wartime flyers and ground crew of RAF Skellingthorpe had a close affinity with the people of Lincoln.

Sir Michael – himself a young pilot at Skellingthorpe --- never forgot. Speaking in 1989 he said: “They saw and heard at close quarters the bombers taking off night after night and then returning in the early hours.

“There were no complaints about aircraft noise in those days and we were sustained by their support and encouragement.”



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Filmmaker Andrew Blow worked with 50 and 61 Squadron veterans in 1989 as they built and unveiled a memorial to more than 2000 comrades who died in bombing missions over enemy territory.

The veterans presented a copy of the resulting film, “Operation Failed to Return,” to Prince Charles on VHS format.

In this first DVD edition, that film - made with Sykes Video Links – is included with two new films looking back at 50 and 61 Squadrons and RAF Skellingthorpe. A fourth item about the 61 Squadron Lancaster being retrieved from the Dutch canal where it crashed in 1942 is a late addition.

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The DVD commemorates the Centenaries of the two squadrons which, although now stood down, did some of the hardest work of Bomber Command.

The site of the base is nowadays within the City boundary and has become Birchwood estate, built from the 1960s onwards. It is home to thousands of Lincoln people. Nearby, the village of Skellingthorpe also welcomes back the veterans and their families each year.

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