The legend of the bar preceded our arrival in Cambridge. With the renowned collaboration between the U.S. and British air forces during World War II top of mind as we entered the week commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion—D-Day—we followed our fellow pilots to the bar where this friendship of Allies was literally burned on the ceiling.
The RAF Bar sits tucked within the Eagle in the heart of Cambridge, not far from the airfield at Duxford, and under a stone’s throw from many bases that the Royal Air Force used during that dreadful war. The cosy corner has walls papered with patches from units all over the forces, and signatures from pilots and honored members of the fraternity they share. The story has it that the lads took candles and lipstick to trace their names onto the ceiling, and the letters run together so on its glossy, yellowed surface that you can picture them doing it—wax dripping on their faces.
No more hazardous than what they would face—or had survived—over the fields of France, Belgium, Germany, for long years before the evil was defeated.
We pulled pints from the barman and toasted those who made it through, and remembered those who did not. As we turn the calendar onto this awful night, when the Dakotas launched from England and the Spitfires raged behind them, and the landing craft braved the winds, rain, and rough seas—we cannot forget their sacrifice.