Archive for the ‘war’ Category

Kings of the Sky

May 6, 2018

Celebrating 100 years of military flying.

May Day Bank Holiday Weekend, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, a three day event at Lincoln Castle to mark 100 years of the RAF.

An Avro Lancaster aircrew, Special Operations Executive, music from WWII, a replica biplane, a replica Spitfire, and much more.

Hot and sunny clear blues skies.

Towards the end of Sunday, a flypast by a Dakota, which then circled around. Excellent vantage point for those on the castle walls.

Three days of clear blue sky, each day hotter than the preceding day.

Bank Holiday Monday, 28.7 C outside of London.

Around the City of Lincoln, 100 Voices celebrating 100 Years of the Royal Airforce.

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Official opening of International Bomber Command Centre

April 12, 2018

To coincide with 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force today saw the official opening of International Bomber Command Centre.

Veterans of Bomber Command were invited from all over the world. Some like the Poles and other Europeans, had escaped with their lives from occupied Europe to then put their lives on the line to serve in Bomber Command to help defeat Nazi Germany and liberate Europe from German occupation.

Invited they came, from as far afield as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Australian government met the expenses of their veterans who came. Three hundred veterans, the youngest 92 the oldest 100.

Military personnel too, from US, Canada and Australia milling around.

The surrounding roads were closed, causing a long diversion.

Parking in an adjacent field, even for the veterans. Those in wheelchairs somehow managing not to get stuck in the mud.

A guard of honour mounted by RAF personnel, all in dress uniform, bedecked with their medals.

Once in the marquee, reserved for veterans only, would you like sir tea or coffee, from an airman.

Wandering around, the site shrouded in mist, the trees on the site vanished in mist, not even possible to see the South Common, let alone Lincoln Cathedral the other side of the valley.

The site has special significance. It overlooks Lincoln, it overlooks Lincoln Cathedral. A spire that is the tallest war memorial in the country, the height the width of a Lancaster wing span. For the airmen who flew on a bombing raid, Lincoln Cathedral was the last sight of what they called home, on return if they made it back, the first sight they saw. Many did not make it back. Their names, over 57,000, their names are cut in the panels. They may not have made it back, but they live on in spirit, with their laser cut names. The average age of the aircrew, 23 years old.

Also on site the Chadwick Centre named after Sir Roy Chadwick who designed both the Lancaster and the Vulcan.

The Chadwich Centre houses an interactive museum, in conjunction with Lincoln University, a digital archive, which is hoped to go on-line in the summer.

Between the Chadwick Centre and the Memorial Spire, a path alongside are tablets with a dedications to those who lost their lives.

All too soon, everyone was herded out of the warmth of the marquee, where lunch was to be served later, out into the misty cold, for the opening ceremony.

And cold it was. Survival blankets had to be handed out to keep people warm.

An address by someone from the Lottery, who provided some of the funding (the majority was donated by the public), Lord Howe defence minister in the Lords and Nicky Barr chief executive of IBCC whose hard work, plus her army of volunteers, has made everything possible.

There was to have been a Lancaster flypast, but to the disappointment of everyone, not possible.

No official bigwig, Royal Family or RAF Top Brass. Instead, which was a nice touch, the veterans cut the ribbon. A long ribbon unravelled across where the veterans were sat, scissors handed out, and the ribbon cut.

The Last Post, then everyone, no one sure what to do, headed back to warmth. The opening ceremony had not finished, there was more music, drama, but the cold was too much.

In the open reception area of the Chadwick Centre, on sale books, tea, coffee, craft beer.

At the entrance, complimentary copies of Lincolnshire Life featuring IBCC.

Back in the marquee lunch served for the veterans their guests had to make do with the various food stalls parked outside. A choice of burger, burger or burger, one stall had noodles, and another cakes.

The lunch, three sausages one assumes Lincolnshire sausages, served on a bed of potatoes, carrots and peas. The serving staff volunteers from a local college catering school.

BBC Look North excellent live coverage in the evening by Peter Levy and the Look North team, a pity about the crass comments from the weatherman which were uncalled for, and unfortunate cut short by five minutes by a party political broadcast.

One of life’s ironies, as the opening took place, high level meetings in London, the US and across Europe on whether or not to bomb Syria for its use of chemical weapons on civililians.

In the evening a concert.

On Saturday, world premier of the digitally remastered Dambusters.

Evening Thursday 24 May 2018, RAF 100 Centenary Concert in Lincoln Cathedral will also mark 75th Anniversary of the Dambusters Raid.

Cappuccino at International Bomber Command Centre

February 11, 2018

Last visits to the International Bomber Command Centre were a couple of weeks ago when not yet open to the public, press day and a preview for veterans, I was curious what it was like now open to the public, what better way to find out than to drop in for a cappuccino.

Sunday roast dinner at the Butcher and Beast at Heighington, then on to the International Bomber Command Centre for a cappuccino.

I was pleasantly surprised on arrival to find how many cars parked in the car park, almost full.

Shocked to find have to pay £3 to park. This was a planning condition imposed by the local council. The money will go to the centre, but only I assume after covering the cost of the parking machines.

How to access by public transport I do not know.

There needs to be access from South Common, otherwise quite a trek if on foot.

Speaking with the Director, previous weekend, the first weekend open to the public,  was even busier, I think she said 1100 visitors.

Excellent news, as they need visitor numbers to make the centre viable and provide cash flow.

On entering the open plan reception area, I noticed cabinets arranged corralling a central area, books on sale, souvenirs, including bags of coffee and tea.

The range of books quite limited. I assume not long open, hopefully a wider selection in the near future.

My cappuccino, too hot, weak and insipid. Classic mistake to serve piping hot.

The coffee served, Bomber Command blend, is a blend from Brazil, supplied by Stokes, exclusive to IBCC.

The Bomber Command beans are on sale, but already ground. For freshness, beans have to be whole, ground on demand. Also essential when supply beans, the roast date, best by or use by is meaningless.

Information on the bag about a Bomber Command pilot from Brazil, but nothing about the beans, where sourced from in Brazil, Q grade, not even if Arabica or heaven forbid Robusta.

Also on sale Bomber Command tea, again exclusive to IBCC supplied by Stokes. Disappointingly, in tea bags, not loose leaf tea.

The Westminster Collection

February 7, 2018

Latest scam from The Westminster Collection is the RAF 100 commemorative coin.

Delivered in an official looking envelope, with accompanying sob story of two WWII aircrew, and what better way to commemorate these brave aircrew than buying a worthless commemorative coin.

Not only that, you have even been specially selected for a discounted special offer, you and every other mug who has received the letter, fools and their money easily parted.

Veterans appear to have been targeted. Has a veteran organisation handed over details? Worrying and depressing if that be the case. But equally could be on a scam list.

The Princess Di coin scam, Falkland War coin scam and many others form what is known as the mint scam.

These are not the only scams. Vital Nature and associated companies pills and potions scam.

These worthless commemorative coins forms only part of the commemorative mint scam. The next part, if foolishly part with money, will be supplied unsolicited coins, billed if not send them back at your expense.

Send a polite letter, have not ordered unsolicited goods, will be kept for ten days then disposed of, onus on the mint to arrange collection at their expense.

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 state that unsolicited goods which have not been ordered and are sent ‘out of the blue’ can be treated as an unconditional gift; in other words, you can keep them or dispose of them as you wish. The Regulations make it a criminal offence to demand payment or threaten legal action to obtain payment for unsolicited goods or services.

If as has been reported RAF Association has endorsed this coin, the trustees should resign for legitimising a scam.

If wish to commemorate aircrew from WWII, visit International Bomber Command Centre, give them a donation.

Please warn veterans of this scam.

Veterans preview International Bomber Command Centre

January 19, 2018

Excluding a couple of days ago, my last visit to International Bomber Command Centre last summer, muddy approach, portakabins, diggers, trucks, shell of a building, hard hat, steel-tipped boots, hi-vis vests for access.

Today, a loose gravel approach to the finished building.

Not yet officially open, today was to give the veterans a glimpse.

Inside, an open plan reception.

As pass through the entrance, a bust of Roy Chadwick, the man who designed the Avro Lancaster, the four-engine heavy bomber on which the RAF relied for its bombing raids.

Roy Chadwick also designed the Vulcan, a V-bomber powered by jet engines.

An auditorium houses a large screen, static and interactive displays, a timeline showing a bombing raid and a separate screen with a four part depiction of all aspects of aerial warfare.

Bombing started with bombs being dropped from airships. It was thought that air warfare would lead to fewer casualties, fewer causalities than trench warfare.

At the end of the First World War, Germany was in ruins, the victors exacted a very heavy price, even though warned by Keynes not to.

The result was the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Second World War.

Have no lessons been learnt? Is 2008 our 1929? The Wall Street Crash led to the Great Depression, rise of Fascism across Europe, the Second World War. Banking crisis in 2008, economic crisis, geo-political crisis, the economy has not recovered, a rise of Fascism across Europe, Fascist governments in Poland, Hungary and now Spain and Austria, Angela Merkel fears holding an election for fear Fascists will gain more seats, Greece occupied by the EU, the country destroyed to serve as a punishment for the Greeks daring to challenge the EU, banks used instead of tanks. UK threatened with punishment for leaving to serve as a warning to others, even though it will harm Europe and turn southern Europe into a wasteland.

The bombing of Guernica by Franco and Spanish Fascists woke the world to total destruction of a city.

At first Britain was poorly prepared for war, war production was ramped up, bombing raids were not accurate, change targets to cities,  would hit something, terrorise and demoralise the civilian population.

Around the perimeter of the auditorium a timeline of a bombing raid.

Static displays of playing cards, flying boots, a lamp.

The playing cards, on each card, hand written account of a bombing raid.

Interactive with actors playing the part recounting first hand accounts. These narrations collected from first hand accounts. A race against time to collect these stories, as already a third of those who contributed are sadly no longer with us.

Dominating the room a large display.

On the large screen, bombing targets lit up. At first I thought, not many, that was until I noticed a scrolling bar. What was being shown was nightly raids, night by night.

A warning, a film was to be shown, almost like warning of an air raid.

Was this a warning to evacuate the room? Maybe.

Too loud.

Then I could see why so loud, when an Avro Lancaster took off, then the bombs dropped, then a building on fire, then footage from the air of the destroyed buildings, presumably taken by the Germans, then the lost people wandering the streets.

Quite an emotive experience watching the screen.

Upstairs, on the first floor, a gallery with more display panels.

Themes covered the impact on civilians, war production in the factories, French Resistance.

And not forgetting Knight of the Skies, one of the Lincoln Knights who now keeps watch.

A gathering of eighty-nine veterans of Bomber Command, their guests, staff and volunteers, crew of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

I regret not chatting with the veterans, as this will probably be the last time they will all be gathered together. They included the last survivor of the Dambusters Raid, a prisoner of war from Stalag 13.

A good spread of food laid on, but many missed out. This was not due to failure of the catering. It was unfortunate that a lot of greedy people, piled their plates high, then left uneaten. More food was served later, no one went hungry.

The dining room was packed. When open, will be serving a special blend of coffee for the centre, but not today as it would have taken too long to serve coffee from an espresso machine.  It was though a pity the coffee beans were not on sale, as will be when the Centre opens to the public, as would probably have sold out. There will also be a special blend of tea. Both supplied by Stokes.

The site is in two parts. The Chadwick Building and the Memorial Spire surrounded by concentric rusting steel panels into which have been cut the names of those who died.

The path connecting the two, has stone tablets with more details of some who died.

Either side of the path, trees have been planted to represent each of the airfield. A plaque by each tree records the squadrons based there and the number who died.

The site looks across the Witham Valley to Lincoln Cathedral the other side.

Why Lincoln? Lincolnshire was known as Bomber County.

The Centre is not only a visitor centre, it will also be a research centre with archive material.

The Centre tells the story from all sides, the crew on the ground, the aircrew, and the Germans who were bombed.

What is the point some may say.

Syria. Look what Assad has done to Syria, bombed-out buildings, the only way he can retain control of Syria is to kill his own people, aided and abetted by Vladimir Putin.

Yemen. Corrupt House of Saud carrying out genocide in Yemen, weapons supplied courtesy of British arms companies.

Press preview International Bomber Command Centre

January 17, 2018

My last visit to International Bomber Command Centre, muddy approach, shell of a building, hard hat, steel-tipped boots, hi-vis vests for access.

Today, a loose gravel approach to the finished building.

Not yet officially open, today was to give the media a glimpse.

Walking in, after passing through an open plan reception, a large auditorium, large screen, various interactive and static displays.

The interactive displays, students dressed the part, speaking what it was like, based upon recorded first hand accounts.

The interactive displays in the prison cells in the old Victorian Prison in Lincoln Castle give an idea of what to expect.

For the Centre, to collect these first hand accounts, was literally a race against time.

Since the first hand accounts were collected, of people in their nineties, a third of those who gave these first hand accounts are sadly no longer with us.

The static displays, a pair of flying boots, a lamp, playing cards.

The playing cards, on each card, hand written account of a bombing raid.

Dominating the room a large display.

On the large screen, bombing targets lit up. At first I thought, not many, that was until I noticed a scrolling bar. What was being shown was nightly raids, night by night.

A warning, a film was to be shown, almost like warning of an air raid.

Was this a warning to evacuate the room? Maybe.

Too loud.

Then I could see why so loud, when an Avro Lancaster took off, then the bombs dropped, then a building on fire, then footage from the air of the destroyed buildings, presumably taken by the Germans, then the lost people wandering the streets.

I was privileged to be able to watch this in a room on my own, well almost on my own, a BBC film crew and one veteran of WWII Bomber Command.

The impact would not have been the same in a room full of people.

To describe as emotional would be an understatement.

I later congratulated the Centre Director Nicky Barr and said she should she be very proud of what she has created.

She said that even though she had created, the first time she watched, it was a very emotive experience.

There are other smaller rooms, including dining room, with coffee, San Remo espresso machine and associated kitchen.

Not today, but when up and running, will be serving a special blend of coffee and tea created for the Centre by Stokes. They will also have on sale bags of the coffee and tea.

The Centre is not only a visitor centre, it will also be a research centre with archive material.

The Centre tells the story from all sides, the crew on the ground, the aircrew, and the Germans who were bombed.

What is the point some may say.

Syria. Look what Assad has done to Syria, bombed-out buildings, the only way he can retain control of Syria is to kill his own people, aided and abetted by Vladimir Putin.

Yemen. Corrupt House of Saud carrying out genocide in Yemen, weapons supplied courtesy of British arms companies.

National Liberation Day

October 28, 2017

I looked out this morning and saw the roads outside Parliament blocked.

Another protest as on Thursday?

I went to investigate.

National Liberation Day, a public holiday.

By the time I arrived, the parades had finished.

When will there be a Liberation Day to mark libation from European Union occupiers who are destroying Greece, bleeding the country to death, with Alexis Tsipras having betrayed his country their puppet?

Museum of Lincolnshire Life

September 15, 2017

The Museum of Lincolnshire Life is well worth a visit.

Various Victorian shops, a laundry, a print shop, inside a typical Victorian house, steam engines, a WWI tank, heavy machinery.

Lincolnshire is an agricultural county, Lincoln was a centre of heavy machinery.

The reason for this apparent anomaly, wealthy Lincolnshire farmers were able to invest in heavy agricultural machinery and steam engines, this powered Lincoln as an industrial centre.

The WWI  tank that changed trench warfare was designed and built in Lincoln. It was called a tank to fool German spies.

One small section, simulates in the trenches with mortar fire.

One of the sources of wealth, was sheep, the wool from the sheep.

Just inside the main gate, a Victorian postbox. I was surprised to find that it was still in use.

The Museum of Lincolnshire Life is a former army barracks.

Inside the entrance, maybe a former guardroom, a very unusual barrel vaulted ceiling, made of a pattern of terracotta tiles. The lady at the desk said in the event of explosion, to focus downwards. I suspect the opposite, a big explosion, shatter the ceiling and direct the blast upwards where it would do no harm. 

On leaving a little cafe. I suggest look to Copper Joe, in the guard house of what was once a military barracks in Winchester.

International Bomber Command Centre

September 4, 2017

I have had two previous visits to the IBCC Memorial Spire, but this was the first time I had access to the centre.  A hard hat area. A guided tour courtesy of the contractors and the director.

The building is complete, or almost complete on the outside, but a lot of work to do on the inside.

All materials wherever possible have been sourced locally.

A number of separate and distinct areas.

Videos where airmen in their own words will tell their stories. This will be very much like what can be found at the Victorian Prison in Lincoln Castle.

A large screen.  This will tell the story of the airmen, but also what it was like on the ground.

An area for school projects.

A restaurant and coffee shop.

These days too many are opening coffee shops and serving awful coffee.

Stokes will supply the coffee, hopefully better coffee than their undrinkable house blend.

Stokes will provide training, but training does not make a barista. Only working with a skilled barista.

I have qualms re the use as a corporate venue.

Too many places are now being hijacked as corporate venues.

Were business to pay its fair share of tax, were corporate tax dodging to be dealt with, there would be more than sufficient public funding for culture.

What was lacking, or at least not mentioned, an archive and artefacts.

We then had a wander to the Spire and the Memorial Wall.

The names of the airman who died serving in Bomber Command during WWII are laser cut into the panels.

Bravery of Tower Bridge police officer

June 28, 2017

Armed only with his baton police officer Wayne Marques faced down three Islamist terrorists. 

A very moving account by an unarmed police officer Wayne Marques who during the terrorist attack on Tower Bridge and Borough Market put his own life on the line and as a result saved the lives of many.

Today scum Tories denied a pay rise to police officers but could find £1 billion to buy the votes of DUP to enable Theresa May to cling on to office.