The scars of the Second World War still line bomber country

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Poppies bloom in the fallow fields of Lincolnshire, sudden outbreaks of red in a verdant landscape – nature’s unintended tribute to the thousands of young men who flew from this place into the dark heart of Nazi Germany, never to return.

The Second World War lingers here, in bomber country. Small memorials commemorating long-disbanded squadrons mark rural crossroads, and white headstones adorned with the Royal Air Force crest dot medieval churchyards. Lincolnshire is far from prairie flat but it enjoys a big sky. It needed to be big in the years 1942 to 1945 when, as the epicentre of RAF Bomber Command, the county was home to hundreds of Avro Lancasters.

“There were 46 military airfields in the county by 1945 and 24 of them were devoted to the strategic air offensive,” says Patrick Otter, who has made a study of Lincolnshire’s bomber past. “You couldn’t drive seven miles without bumping into the RAF.”...

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