Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon
Opened on 15 November 1972, the Royal Air Force Museum displays 100 aircraft within it’s five exhibition halls. This collection includes a Hawker Typhoon, one of the two remaining Vickers Wellingtons and probably the most famous of the Avro Lancaster bombers, R5868 ‘S-Sugar’ (S for Sugar), which was the first RAF heavy bomber to complete 100 operational sorties during World War II. However, R5868 is said to be haunted by one of its crewmen.
One of the oldest surviving Lancaster BI’s, S-Sugar was originally destined to have been built as an Avro Manchester bomber in 1939. Her first assignment was with 83 Squadron*, where, designated OL-Q (Q for Queenie) her first sortie was on the evening of 8th July 1942 when she and 284 other aircraft attacked Wilhelmshaven in Germany. She flew 79 of her operationall sorties with 83 Squadron before being reassigned to 467 Squadron RAAF** (Royal Australian Air Force) in November 1943 and re-designated PO-S (S-Sugar). Her famous 100th operation was on the evening of 11th May 1944 when she was involved in the bombing of the military camp at Bourg Leopold in Belgium. In total she flew 137 operational sorties, her last one against the railway yards at Flensburg, Germany on 23rd April 1945 where she was but one of the 145 Avro Lancasters involved. However, this raid was abandoned due to heavy cloud cover obscuring the target. At 140 Operational sorties, ED888 “Mike-Squared” (103 Squadron) is the only Lancaster bomber to fly more missions than S-Sugar.
Preserved following the war she spent time at RAF Wroughton (1947 – 1958), RAF Scampton (1958 – 1970) and RAF Bicester (1970 – 1972) before finally taking her place at the RAF Museum in 1972.
S-Sugar is reputedly haunted and the apparition of a gunner has been reported manning one of the aircrafts gun turrets and the sounds of crewmen at work on the aircraft have apparently been recorded late at night.
There are also claims that the ghost of man who died whilst the museum was being constructed in the early 1970’s is said to be responsible for noises heard at night in galleries 3 and 9.
* 83 Squadron RAF was a heavy bomber squadron reformed in August 1936 (originally a 1917 – 1919 WWI squadron created at Montrose, Scotland) and based at RAF Scampton. Issued with Handley Page Hampden’s between November 1938 – January 1942, Avro Manchesters between January 1942 – June 1942 and then Avro Lancasters BI and BIII’s from May 1942. During World War II the squadron earned a total of 429 decorations and honours. WWII Code letters OL.
** 467 Squadron RAAF was a Lancaster equipped heavy bomber squadron assigned to 5 Group. It was formed on 7th November 1942 at RAF Scampton. Code letters PO.