Fulbourn Arts

Arts events in Fulbourn Cambridgeshire


Fulbourn’s 2020 ‘Written Word’ project has come to fruition with the publication of an 80 page book!
Copies are available at £3 each and if you would like to reserve a copy please contact fulbournarts@gmail.com with your full name, address and contact details. We will get back to you as soon as we can.

Battle Orders by George Culling

One of our local authors in Fulbourn has published a new book. He’s also prepared to offer it at a reduced rate of £12 (RRP £14.99) to Fulbourn residents and has offered to deliver it locally. Contact him directly: georgeculling@yahoo.co.uk

Below is what he has to say about it:

The title of my new book is BATTLE ORDERS:  a docu-drama of the experiences of a young Lancaster crew in 1945.  Although it is a work of fiction, every incident described in it actually occurred, often many times.

In the book, I’ve tried to combine accounts of highly-dangerous operations with their rationale, and with the hopes, fears and aspirations of the young airmen.

Bombing was the most dangerous activity of the War, and the crews were all volunteers, but committed to carry out a full tour of thirty operations.   Wounded crew members might be hospitalised, but would then resume their tour of duty.  44.4% of them – average age 22 – lost their lives, a higher percentage than that of any branch of any of the other armed Services. The chance of surviving a tour was about 45%, and of two tours, which some did, 20%.

 The purpose, or rationale of a particular operation was normally explained during a briefing.

         Here are some examples.

 The ‘doodlebug” flying bombs and the V2 rocket bombs were designed and manufactured at Peenamunde, on the Baltic coast, and were then transported to launching pads on the Channel coast.  Both types of bomb caused thousands of deaths and widespread destruction.  Both the Peenamunde factories and the launching pads were successfully bombed many times.

The regular bombing of marshalling yards took account of Germany’s dependence of its rail network for the transport of servicemen and the weapons of war to wherever they were needed.

German U-Boats were sinking hundreds of our merchant ships. For example, 240 ships were torpedoed between June and October,1940, with the loss of thousands of sailors and vast quantities of food and war materials, and U-Boat attacks continued for most of the War years.  Hundreds of them were sunk by the Royal Navy and RAF, while massive concrete U-boat bunkers, or pens, in Hamburg, Trondheim, Heligoland, Bordeaux, Brest and St.Nazaire, were frequently bombed.

 The dangers faced by the bombing aircraft were not confined to the shells of anti-aircraft guns and the machine guns and cannon of night fighters.

An aircraft might be severely damaged or destroyed by ‘friendly’ bombing from one above, or collide with another one in a crowded sky.  

The pilot might have to ‘ditch’ in the North Sea, always a hazardous operation.  If they had enough time before the aircraft sank, the crew would climb into a rubber dinghy and hope to be rescued by the Air/Sea Rescue Service, but many died from exposure, or were never found.

Aircraft that managed to fly back to their base often carried crew members who had been seriously wounded, and the aircraft might be badly damaged.

The pilot might have to fly the whole way back with only two or three of the four engines working, the others having been destroyed.  It is a remarkable fact that some skilful pilots managed to land their Lancaster with two engines only, and both on the same side!

Sometimes, when bombs had been released from the bomb bay, it was found that one was still in place.  The pilot might have to land his aircraft with it still hanging in the bomb bay, a few feet from the tarmac.

Then there was often the weather problem.  On one Berlin operation more aircraft were lost through the weather than by enemy action.  Fog, or smog over Britain was often a severe problem when aircraft were coming in to land.  Altimeters (based on an aneroid barometer) were not entirely reliable, and many aircraft crashed into hills, tall buildings, hangars, etc. when descending.

All the above incidents are experienced by the young Lancaster crew in my book.  They also take part in a humanitarian operation over northern Holland.  600 tons of food were dropped by the RAF to Dutch people in the north of the country, who were starving towards the end of the War, when the Gestapo blocked the supply of food as a punishment for the non-cooperation of transport workers.  The Dutch people expressed their gratitude in brief messages written with tulips in surrounding fields.

George Culling
Sept 2020

 Fulbourn Village Library

Fulbourn Village Library is a public library licenced with the County Library Service and run by volunteers.  Please go to our new website: www.fulbournlibrary.weebly.com for further information about the library.

In June 2011 the Fulbourn Writing Group produced an anthology,  “This is Our Village, Fulbourn”. Written by young and old, people who were born and grew up locally and also newcomers to the village.  Our writing provides fact and fiction, prose and poems, displaying the rich variety of village life – past, present and future.

Published by Arima publishing in Suffolk, list price is £7.95.  A reduction is made if purchased through the Library.  Call in to the Library for more information.

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Fulbourn Arts is a group set up to organise and promote arts events in the village of Fulbourn, Cambridge, UK. New members of the group are always welcome, as well as additional volunteers we can call on to help manage events.

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