Well, our tour is coming to an end as this was our last day before we head down to London. However, we still have one very important Museum to visit, RAF Hendon. But before that we had an excellent day in and around Bedford. Our first visit was to the Shuttleworth Collection. The Shuttleworth Collection is an aeronautical and automotive museum located at the Old Warden Aerodrome, Old Warden in Bedfordshire, England. It is one of the most prestigious in the world due to the variety of old and well-preserved aircraft.
The collection was founded in 1928 by aviator Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth. While flying a Fairey Battle at night on 2 August 1940, Shuttleworth fatally crashed. His mother, in 1944, formed the Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth Remembrance Trust "for the teaching of the science and practice of aviation and of afforestation and agriculture.". The beauty of this collection is that all but a couple of the aeroplanes in the collection actually fly.
Our group were escorted by Chris, an ex RAF Helicopter Pilot and he was able to give us a full briefing and much information about the collection, the individual planes, the history of the individually planes and much more. One of the planes on display was delivered to a squadron in France on the 10th November 1918 and the Squadron Commander decided to take the new plane for his own. He then decided to fly a last operation and while patrolling he shot down a German plane. This was the last air action of the War as the Armistice came into effect at 1100 next day. Many other planes have an interesting story to tell and Chris knows them all.
Another plane with a history is the Russian Plane as these planes were used by the "Black Witches" as the Germany soldiers called them as they flew at night over the German positions in Stalingrad dropping grenades to keep the German soldiers awake.
The volunteers and professional engineers working at the Collection are rebuilding a spitfire and I have shown some shots here of the complexity of the wiring etc that goes into the construction of the plane. It should be flying within a year or so.
Following that visit we moved to a local pub, the Horse and Hounds in Old Warden, recommended by Chris as it is their local pub. A beer and a light lunch was followed by a visit to Tempsford where we conducted a small Service for those lost flying from this airfield on SOE type operations. The agents who were lost and the air crews who delivered them but who failed to return were remembered this day in July 2016.The Memorial to those agents was erected and opened by His Excellency, Prince Charles in December 2013.
On our way back to the hotel we passed by the hangars that the airships 101 and 201 used for a home until 101 crashed in France, on the way to India. All aboard were killed and were brought back to the UK and are buried in Cardington Cemetery. Cardington was the home of the airships.