Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Annual Photographic Competition

The Annual Photographic Competition has some surprises every year and this year was no exception. There were 24 entries of good quality, but it was the subject matter that the most eye catching as reflected by all three winning entries.

The winning entries were:

1. David Brown:
Taken at Edwards Air Force Base, a formation consisting of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a          Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II, a General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and and Lockheed  
Martin F-22 Raptor.
2. David Brown and Mike Overs
David's picture shows a Pitts Special, flown by Richard Goodwin, racing an SUV, whilst flying a knife-edge.
Mike's image depicts sunrise at Cosford, with a small line up of Blenheim I, Chipmunk, Hurricane and Spitfire. 

A special thank you our resident adjudicator, Clifford Hill for counting the votes and announcing the winning entries.

The trophy will be presented to David at the Christmas Dinner on 11 December at Barby Sporting.
The Winning Entry by David Brown

The Shared Second Entry by David Brown
The Shared Second Entry by Mike Overs

Monday, 26 November 2018

Remembrance Sunday Follow up

Following on from my report on the Remembrance Sunday ceremonies the article below was went to me by friend and RAG member Paul Waller, which I share with you as it related to our group as well as the Halifax Memorial on The Heath in Dunchurch.

Together with Paul and Roger Higgerson(ex-RAG member and co-founder of the memorial) I am looking into the possibility of organising a special commemorative event next year in October around the 75th anniversary of the crash of the Halifax in the parish of Dunchurch.

This article is a step, be it a small one, in the right direction in getting both the recognition and support from the local church and other organisations that can benefit the ongoing maintenance of the Memorial when the current custodians are no longer able to.

I hope you can read as I can not increase the size of the document image any further with the confines of the available page size.

Theo Claassen
26 November 2018

Duxford - September 2018

On the 21st September myself and Andy Binks went on a guided tour of the British airliner collection at Duxford, with privileged access to many of the cockpits. We joined the trip,  which was arranged by the Milton Keynes Aviation Society.

We were taken to the cockpits of the Concorde, Hermes, York and Comet inside the hangar. 

Then we went outside to go to the BAC 111, Trident and VC 10, then the rest of the day was free to look round the hangars.

Here are a few photos from that day.

Raymond Taylor2 November 2018
Ed: our speaker in April 2019 will be Alistair Rivers, the Marketing Director of the Duxford Aviation Society and he can organise a visit to his organisation for a detailed tour for those that are interested.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Remembrance Sunday 2018

Dunchurch Cenotaph in sunny weather and autumn colours

Sunday 11 November 2018, another year has passed and we are back in Dunchurch to remember all those that gave their lives for our freedom and especially the crew of 434Sqd RCAF Halifax MZ920 that crashed in the parish on the 14th of October 1944.

We start by attending the Remembrance Service with the St. Peter's Parish Church community at the Cenotaph and were once again blessed with sunshine and a reasonable temperature for the time of year.

Because of the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day the Cenotaph had been subjected to a cleanup and looked remarkable in the bright light.

Rugby Road, Dunchurch
Many pass the Halifax Memorial, few know it is there or what it means, more will learn in the future.

David George, as founder of the Memorial, had made the wreath available to be laid and I am reading the words on the card attached to it to David. Roger Higgerson, the co-founder, had made some preparations to tie down the wreath to prevent it from being blown away in the wind. That, incidentally, has happened in the past and locals, including schoolchildren, have replaced it in its rightful place.

The card is shown above with the words added and the logo and web address for the Rugby Aviation Group.

It was a great honour to jointly lay the wreath with David George

A moment to reflect and remember them

Flight Lieutenant D.Z.T. Wood, RCAF
Flying Officer W. Ewing, RCAF
Sergeant O. Parsons, RCAF
Sergeant D. Ward, RCAF
Sergeant G. Grant RAFVR

Following the laying of the wreath five new crosses were placed around the memorial, one for each member of the Halifax Crew that perished on that fateful day in 1944.

After the ceremony Roger brought out the tools to tie down the wreath and knock the crossed deeper into the ground in such a way that they would further support the wreath.

The crosses were arranged in such a way that F/L Wood was in the centre flanked on each side by two of has crew members, the crossed touching as though holding hands.

Theo Claassen
15 November 2018

With special thanks to RAG member Paul Waller for the photographic coverage of the events.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

A near miss on 2 July 1940

In the week that we remember those that fought and gave their lives during the wars and conflicts of the last 11 or so decades other stories emerge from those at the receiving end of conflicts, the general population. On a visit to the Northeast of England last Sunday I came across the story below, which is related by Eric Dyke, who lived in Gateshead on the south side of the river Tyne opposite Newcastle-upon-Tyne that I thought I would share with you. The title of this post is also the title of the story that follows. 

"At the outbreak of World War II I was 9 years old and lived in The Avenue, Sheriff Hill, Gateshead and attended Carr Hill School. 

Due to the expected bombing of the heavily industrialised Tyneside area, I was evacuated together with my sister to St.Helens near Bishop Auckland. But as the bombing did not happen, after about 8 weeks we returned home, as did the vast majority of the evacuees.
While we were away Carr Hill School, which was a fairly modern building, and two stories high, had the lower floor level classrooms converted into an emergency hospital, first aid station and the area headquarters of the Street Fire Wardens.
Having a bicycle (lucky lad) I became a runner for the Street Fire Wardens for The Avenue and Millway, which were adjoining streets. Very few people had a telephone in those days and it was assumed that the telephone system would be knocked out by the bombing when it started anyway.
My father was a long distance drive and used to transport dangerous chemicals from ICI at Billingham and was regularly issued with an Armed Services type gas mask. As a consequence when I was on duty as a runner during an air raid, I was the envy of most and even had a 'tin hat' supplied by ICI, but back to the plot.....
As a result of half of our school being requisitioned, the 'Carr Hill Boys' has to share a school with Shipcote School, which resulted in each doing half a day, mornings one week, afternoons the next....which suited us fine!
One lunchtime (we must have been on mornings that week) Fred Bown and I were making our way home, on Old Durham Road, when we arrive at The Avenue, where I lived, and stopped and got talking about whatever young boys talked about...most probably the latest war stories and there were plenty. I recall when we heard about Spitfires on the Wireless that Fred and I drew an aerial combat scene in our art lesson. The British Spitfires were belching flames at the German aircraft, who were naturally being shot down and slaughtered in large numbers by our hitherto secret weapon! Such was the imagination of two 10 year old boys.
As Fred and I stood at the junction of The Avenue and Old Durham Road our attention was drawn to an aircraft. It was a type we hadn't seen before, and we knew our own planes. As we watched it circled around then dived down to the north end of the High Level Bridge, about twice, then on the third circuit we saw a small object drop from the plane., followed by a loud explosion. The plan then headed towards South Shields and the coast. We headed home quick!
Tyneside being the industrial area it was with numerous shipyards and ammunition factories (my mother worked at Vickers Armstrong on the Team Valley Trading Estate (TVTE) 4th Avenue Shell making factory) situated mainly along the riverbank. Many of them had their own anti-aircraft guns manned by the workers.
These anti-aircraft defences, were operative within a very short period of time after the explosion, firing at the plane as it made its way to the coast. At the top of Lobley Hill Road, somewhere near the West end of Oakfield Road, was an anti-aircraft gun manned by the Army, and I recall that whenever it was fired, the doors and windows despite being 3-4 miles away always rattled in our house.
Soon "Big Bertha" as this gun was locally known, opened up and after only a few shots got the plane just as it was passing over the coast st South Shields. It crashed into the sea - not bas marksmanship for a target 12-13 miles away!
Had the pilot been on target with hib bomb, and hit what at the time was the biggest railway crossing in the world, at the north end of the High Level Bridge, just East of Newcastle Central Station, he would have caused mayhem as everything heading for Scotland would have had to be rerouted up the West coast line. As it was all that he damaged was Spiller Flour Mill, immediately West of the bridge. I believe the site is still levelled off and unused except as a car park.
The reason the pilot got so far without being challenged was that the plancewas French with French insignia on the wings and fuselage it being just after Dunkirk. However he paid the price.
I don't recall any other aircraft raids during daylight hours but there were quite a number of night raids and in one of those Gateshead East Cemetery was hit, as did a house off Sunderland Roas, where I believe a family was killed. Memories!"  Eric Dyke

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The Victory Show, Cosby

The weekend of the 1/2 September saw the annual trek to Cosby for the popular Victory Show. After last year's debacle with the flying display, this year was near perfect with formations of WWII fighters a parachute drop from a C-47 and great weather.

The question of the display line and overflying the golf course and housing etc. had been eloquently resolved with a curved display line rough from the north western end of the field to the southern and south western end. This made for better lighting for photography when the sun was in south east and east.

Here is a selection of pictures that shows the variety of WWII aircraft took part, some seen before, others their first appearance. The most surprising appearance was not an aircraft but a person flying an aircraft. Maurice Hammond who had a crash in his P-51D Mustang Janie made his first flight away from home (Hardwick) after his recovery. He has already sold P-51D Marinell prior to his accident so he arrived in the next best thing, his Harvard "Fools Rush In".

Despite there not being anything large (aspart from the C-47), i.e. Lancaster (scheduled for the Sunday), B-17 of even a B-25 this was a very good show and the new display line a great success for the golfers, the house owners of Littlethorpe as well as the many photographers at the show.

Theo Claassen
29 September 2018