We all like a good trip down to the pub for a catch up with pals and it was no different for the guys during the Second World War. It helped keep spirits up and gave the men something to look forward to away from the combat.
Image courtesy of IWM
The first pub in our WW2 pub series is the Blue Bell Inn, at Tatterhsall Thorpe, Lincolnshire, which we came across a few weeks back, on our way to RAF Coningsby to meet former Spitfire Pilot Justin Helliwell.
First built in 1257; these days the roadside inn serves up top quality pub grub and a great choice of real ales, but back in the 1940s it provided a welcome relief to the local squaddies, allowing them to enjoy those off-duty moments.
When you first enter the pub it’s like stepping back in time, and if you look carefully you’ll still spot the pennies the RAF men would leave in the oak timber beams ready for next night’s beer. Sadly, for some, the next beer never came and so the guys who did make it back would often hammer in the pennies in tribute to their fallen comrades.
We were told by the welcoming staff that Woodhall Spa, the third and final base of the legendary 617 “Dambusters” Squadron was nearby, so the crew would regularly drop by, leaving their names scrawled on the ceiling. Disappointingly, these were painted over during the 1950s, though a few of the men managed to re-visit and re-sign their names. We managed to spot bomb aimer John Bell’s signature who joined 617 Squadron after the famous Operation Chastise, as well as signatures by current RAF/BBMF crews, including BBMF’s patron Prince William of Wales.
One cracking pub with amazing history, and if you happen to be in the area we’d definitely recommend making a pitstop for a pint of the pub’s classic Dambuster’s ale.
Find more details here: http://www.bluebell-inn.com/
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