THE mighty roar of a Lancaster bomber’s engines brought the memories flooding back for veterans at a record-breaking heritage and reunion extravaganza.

All eyes were on the skies as the iconic bomber flew over Croome Park at High Green, near Pershore, drawing gasps from thousands of visitors as it made three circuits of the grounds as part of the Defford Airfield Heritage Weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

The flypast was an emotional experience for the dwindling number of spirited veterans who served at RAF Defford in the 1940s, next to the sprawling 18th-century gardens of Croome.

About 50 veterans attended and they have often kept in close touch because of their connections to the airfield.

The reunion was organised by Bob Shaw, secretary of the Defford Airfield Radar Heritage Group, who welcomed the veterans, many of whom belonged to the ground crew.

Albert Shorrock, aged 92, of Wolverhampton, who was at the airbase in 1942 working as an air frame fitter, said: “It brings back the memories – does it ever.”

The event proved so popular that the overspill car park was full to bursting and Michael Smith, the property manager for the National Trust, said there had already been close to 3,000 people through the gates in the first two hours alone.

Mr Smith, who got into the spirit of things by dressing as Captain Mainwaring, said: “This our busiest day ever – we have never had cars parked that far back in the car park before.

“Without a doubt it’s a record breaker. It’s great that we’re sharing this aspect of Croome’s history.”

Croome was one of many stately homes commandeered by the military during the first and second world wars, playing a vital role in developing radar systems which helped turn the tide of war in favour of the Allies.

Mr Smith said: “It is so rewarding to see the veterans come out and enjoy it. It has exceeded our expectations even though we knew it would be a busy day.

“We have never had a day quite like this.”

The day began in spectacular fashion with a display by the Red Arrows but the word on everyone’s lips was “Lancaster” as people waited eagerly to catch a glimpse of the magnificent bomber on a rare flypast.

“It is such an emotional thing to hear those massive engines rumbling,” Mr Smith added. “We know we’re not in the 1940s anymore but when you have this bomber coming over it is like being in a different age and everyone just stops.”

Among the veterans to enjoy the day was Bert Sloman, aged 90, who serviced the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines which powered the Spitfires.

He said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, a meeting of all the old boys, those of us that are left. We didn’t think about it at the time. We were just among thousands of others.

“It’s all history now and we’re getting fewer and fewer. It all brings back memories.”

There were re-enactors dressing in period costumes and the nose section of a Canberra TT Mk 18 WK128 courtesy of owner John Morgan.

The possibility of the piece becoming a fixture as a permanent loan at a new museum at Croome celebrating Defford Airfield and its heritage is now being actively explored.