A World War II veteran details wartime life in Yorkshire and his postwar efforts to build a museum and restore a Halifax bomber.
Between 1935 and 1945, Yorkshire became home to 41 military airfields, the majority located in the Vale of York. The area was often referred to as a land-based aircraft carrier. At 16, Ian Robinson began working for the Handley Page aircraft manufacturer at their repair depot at Clifton, York. There, Halifax bombers used by 4 Group RAF and 6 Group Royal Canadian Air Force were repaired and test flown.
During the Second World War, about 30 squadrons operated from these Yorkshire airfields, and the Book of Remembrance in York Minster records more than 18,000 names of those killed flying from these Yorkshire bases. Postwar, Ian felt aggrieved that little was left commemorating these sacrifices and that little was left of the Halifax bomber. Then in 1983, a small group of aviation enthusiasts got together to create a commemorative museum at Elvington, and Ian joined them. He became a pivotal player in forming the Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial. Yet Ian felt the museum was incomplete without a Halifax. So, starting with a derelict fuselage which was being used as a hen-coop on the Isle of Lewis, he set about gathering all the hundreds of bits needed to reassemble the aircraft.
This is Ian’s account of those 13 extraordinary years before the Friday the 13th was rolled out on Friday, September 13, 1996.