Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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Trips to Boston, Lincs (OOOAIM) - February 2010
Colin Turner went exploring the area around Crowland, Lincolnshire, looking for locations used in the film One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942). Here's his report:
On a cold grey day in mid February 2010 I visited Crowland along with my wife Hilary and our friends Gerald and Pat Stancey.
Having studied both the screen shots on the OOOAIM website and the film, plus having had a good look at Google Earth, I already had an idea of what to look for. I was determined to see for myself the shots from along the causeway from Crowland towards the water tower, used as a windmill in the film, towards which the cyclist pedalled, and the place of the 'armoured cars' shots, particularly the gate scene.
The path across the causeway, or 'rushes' as they call it locally, was blocked by contractors laying heavy duty drainage pipes at the eastern end although we were permitted to walk on a secondary path towards the tower. Interestingly the workmen had all heard of the film and thought checking these locations was a good thing to do - once you were retired!
I learnt from Elizabeth in the Crowland Charity shop that the original water tower, altered in the film by the technicians to resemble a Dutch mill, had been replaced in the early 1950's with the current structure and that there is a lady in the town called 'Valerie' who remembers the filming vividly but is currently too ill to be visited. The vantage point for the camera can be easily imagined from the access road leading to the causeway. I rather fancy living in one of the bungalows that have been built since behind this spot.
If you visit the area then take your sandwiches and coffee. The drainage work will finish in March 2010 and the local council have kindly installed benches and trestle tables on the grass on the eastern end of the gravel causeway, also known as the B1166, to make a family picnic spot. I plan to return in the summer on my bike and just sit and think and remember...........all of the aircrew and civilians who died in the real action.
The tee junction of the armoured car shot is still recognisable but is some distance further along from the water tower toward the direction of Cowbit Farm- (pronounced 'koo -bit' by the locals by the way) - and you can see why it was chosen being lower than the surrounding dyke wall which screens the scene from other fenland activities. I agree this is 'Four Mile Bar' but I think one of the shots of the cyclists was taken at the tower end of the causeway as there is a distinctive slope at Four Mile Bar and none at the shot taken from the western end of the causeway. Go see and make up your own mind.
Talking of locals, there is a seasonal hostelry beneath the water tower at its rear or if you would like a quality tea or snack then go to the 'Copper Kettle' in the Crowland town centre close to the three bridges. I fancy it was used by the crew of 'B for Bertie', the technicians and the 'Dutch' civilians for a cuppa after filming as it was certainly in use in 1941/2. A sign in the window says so and ....................there are ghosts everywhere.
My sincere thanks to those of you who did the original research of these locations. You and the actors and technicians of OOOAIM gave a me a memorable day. The film helped change my life - I learnt Dutch in my 30's after seeing the film with my father as a youngster in the 1950's and many times thereafter and now have a little flat in Holland. Vliegtuig bemmaning en toneelspelers - bedankt!
Colin Turner High Halstow Rochester Kent
Other OOOAIM trips