WITH its four Rolls Royce Merlin engines at full throttle, a Halifax bomber picks up speed along the runway. With heavy bombs in its belly it needs most of the 1,900- yard runway before lifting off into the sky heading for its German target.

The date is 1943 and the airfield is Lissett, in East Yorkshire, which is home to 158 squadron and its Halifax bombers. By the end of the war, Halifax bombers from Lissett had flown 250 sorties, of which 144 planes never returned, their 400 aircrew lost. Some were lucky, and to prove the theory that 13 is not a jinx, one of the Halifax bombers had its name emblazoned proudly on the fuselage, it was called “Friday the l3th”.

As if to defy (or attract) bad luck it also had an upturned horseshoe, a skull and crossbones and a sickle to signify the grim reaper emblazoned on the side.

This plucky (or lucky) airplane and brave crew flew 128 operations in just over a year, a record for a Halifax bomber. A replica “Friday 13th” Halifax is displayed at the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington.

The airfield at Lissett is situated just a couple of miles from the sea and was Bomber Command’s nearest to the icy water, it was also the nearest bomber airfield to Germany.

It had three runways and hard standing for 36 planes. A maximum of 26 planes would be used at any one time. Overall losses for Bomber Command during the war was more than 55,000 killed, more than 8,000 wounded and almost 10,000 taken prisoner.

There are many memorials to bomber crews but perhaps the strangest of all is at Lissett. As the bomber crews fought to save the world from fascism, this monument fights to save the world from effects of climate change. Situated on Lissett airfield today with its propellers serenely turning on the runway is a wind farm. Each of the wind turbines carry a name, 11 of them the name of a Halifax bomber from Lissett and the 12th is in memory of six ground crew who were killed when a bomb exploded on a bomb dump.

You might be interested to know the names of the aircraft which were used on the wind turbines, they are quite entertaining and do connect us with the war, they are: Friday 13th, Goofy’s Gift, Lilli Marlene, Jane, Xpress Delivery, The Menace, Blondie, Maori Chief, Git up Dem Stairs and Minnie the Moocher.

But there is another memorial at Lissett which is on the edge of the old airfield on the roadside between Gransmoor and Lissett on the A165.

It is in honour of the 851 men and women based at the site who lost their lives. The memorial is a sculpture in metal of seven figures in silhouette representing bomber crew of 158 Squadron. Each figure is seen to support each other, very appropriate as the Squadron’s motto is “Strength in Unity”. The names of all the crews who lost their lives are etched into the figures.

It is an emotive experience to stand and look at this impressive monument to bomber crews of the Second World War. Please take time to stop and take in the significance of this monument to human endeavour and bravery.

Your route

From your street park head off to the junction of the B1242/B1249 near the Post Office Stores.

Take the Beeford Road, the B1249 which is signed to Beeford and Driffield, and cycle past the church.

Continue along for a short way to Skipsea Brough. At the sharp corner entering the village, turn left signed to Dunnington and Bewholme, then go almost immediately right along a narrow lane signed to Dunnington. There are some tight bends with gritty surfaces along this lane and a few potholes to contend with.

At the T-junction, go left signed to Dunnington, Nunkeeling and Catfoss, then cycle along into the village. Leave the village and soon reach another T-junction, go right signed to Brandesburton and Leven, then at the next T-junction, turn right signed to Brandesburton and Leven. Eventually you reach the main road, the A165, turn left here signed to Beverley and Hull. Not far to a large roundabout, take care here and take the fourth exit signed to the Black Swan, then cycle along into the village of Brandesburton.

Pass the pub and the fish and chip restaurant, then follow the road around a sharp left bend to immediately turn right signedto North Frodingham and Wansford.

Follow the road around to the right and enjoy a quiet ride to North Frodingham. Turn left in the village signed to Wansford and Driffield to soon cycle past the church as you leave the village. Take care at the narrow bridge, then cycle across Frodingham Beck to continue along for about three quarters of a mile, then turn right at the crossroads signed to Foston and Gembling.

A quiet country road takes you to Foston-on-the-Wolds, continue along through the village past a quaint church, then after a couple of double bends go left signed to Gembling and Kelk. Keep following signs for Kelk and watch out for sharp corners.

Cycle through the village of Kelk, then watch out for a sign to Gransmoor and Lissett, turn right here along an undulating road to reach a T-junction, turn right here signed to Lissett and Hornsea, then cycle through the village of Gransmoor. Head off towards Lissett now and watch out for Lissett airfield, now a wind farm, and you will see the memorial to the crews of the bomber squadrons, which were based there, then continue along to a T-junction.

Turn left here with care onto the busy A165 then go immediately right onto the B1242 signed to Hornsea, Skipsea and Ulrome.

Continue along to the double bends of Ulrome village, then keep straight on to the end of the ride at Skipsea.

The facts

Distance – 23miles/37km

Terrain – flat and easy

Best map – OS Explorer 295

Start – Skipsea. Start from the Skipsea Post Office Stores, which is situated at the junction of Main Street and Beeford Road (B1242/B1249). Street parking only.

Grid ref – GR167550

Refreshments – pubs along the way, fish and chips at Brandesburton

Public toilets – none