Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum honours the heroism of RAF aircrew

Victoria Cross

Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum commemorates RAF 100 with its exhibition honouring the heroism of RAF aircrew during World War II.

2018 is set to be an important year for aviation as the Royal Air Force celebrates its centenary. To mark this occasion, Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum will open their next exhibition on Sunday 1 April 2018 entitled ‘Gallantry in the Air’ honouring Royal Air Force aircrew who were decorated for their bravery during World War II.

Gallantry is defined as bravery shown by someone who is in danger. This exhibition will feature RAF personnel who were awarded UK gallantry medals including Guy Gibson who was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), Distinguished Service Order & Bar (DSO) and Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar (DFC). Gibson was most famous for leading No. 617 Squadron during the Dam Busters raid in 1943 and was awarded the VC, the highest award of the UK’s honours system. Two of the others that will feature are Leonard Cheshire who was awarded the VC, DSO & 2 Bars, DFC; and ‘Ginger ‘Lacey, one of the RAF’s highest scoring fighter pilots during World War II, who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal & Bar.

Heritage Assistant, Angela Riley who has been working on the exhibition said:

“This exhibition has been the most challenging to date in many ways, not least the subject matter. To try to pick a limited number of men to cover in depth from the many, who did enormously brave acts has been difficult, but I hope our selection shows just how utterly brave and in some cases selfless the men of the air are.“

To hopefully make ‘Gallantry in the Air’ particularly relevant to Lincolnshire, many of the aircrew that will be featured were based in the County at some point during their Service careers. Regardless of origin or background, these heroic individuals were determined to serve their country in a time of war and some had to apply to do so on more than one occasion before they succeeded in becoming aircrew.

Leader for North Kesteven District Council, Councillor Richard Wright said:

“We’re very proud that North Kesteven is right at the heart of ‘Bomber County’ and it is important that exhibitions like this allow everyone the opportunity to learn about the bravery of the RAF airmen who have fought in World War II. Their heroism needs to be remembered and respected for generations to come. The RAF 100 anniversary makes this even more poignant.
“It shouldn’t be forgotten, in this year that we celebrate the anniversary of women’s suffrage and the fight for equal voting rights that 168 women flew all types of military aircraft for the Air Transport Auxillary, during WWII, delivering them to forward bases and sadly 15 of them didn’t make it through the war.
“I’d encourage everyone to go and see the display at Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum.”

Many of the airmen, featured in the exhibition, gained the highest award for their valour with some of them paying the ultimate price. Regardless of their individual circumstances, they all shared at least one thing in common – their incredible acts of ‘Gallantry in the Air’.

This exhibition is open to the public from Sunday 1 April until Sunday 30 September, 10am to 4.30pm. Admission is free.

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