Archive for the ‘war’ Category

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.

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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.

Afternoon in Winchester

May 3, 2017

Mayday was wintry, winter had returned, yesterday was a pleasant warm day, today worse then Mayday.

Why was I travelling down to Winchester on such a cold, unpleasant day? On the way down rain.

Passing through Alton, I was shocked and saddened to see O’Connor’s Secret Garden had closed. This was an excellent restaurant.

On the way down, cowslips on the grass verges and on roundabouts.

The road leading down to Winchester, a meadow carpeted with cowslips.

I would normally alight, and walk down the hill into Winchester, but today, such a cold miserable day, I stayed on the bus until the bus station in the town centre.

Wednesday, Winchester has a street food market. Each time I visit it has become smaller.

Today many of the stalls had gone. Though many it is no loss.

But no fruit and vegetable stall, no fish stall (though I was told had packed up early), the bread stall and the excellent cheese stall still there.

But no falafel stall. What was I to do for lunch?

I walked up and down, eventually settled on a Sicilian  stall Bedda doing pasta.  A good choice, the tagalette was excellent. Worth a trip to Winchester for.

It was then to Coffee Lab for a cappuccino, and to get warm.

A brief chat with the lady running Flat Whites where I would have a coffee but for Coffee Lab. I did though buy one of her excellent cakes.

Excellent cappuccino from Coffee Lab.

I then popped to Coffee Lab Academy where they weighed out and bagged coffee beans, Einstein blend. Now a choice of Einstein blend or Heisenberg blend.

Just as I was leaving, Dhan popped in. I said hi, apologised, had to run, a bus to catch.

I would have walked through Alton to double check that O’Connor’s Secret Garden had indeed closed, but cold, drizzling of rain, alighted at Alton Station.

Bikers night at The Alton Station Cafe. Not many bikers. Too cold. I had hoped for moussaka. Excellent cottage pie.

I suggested they look into taking on O’Connor’s Secret Garden.

Knight of the Skies

April 23, 2017

Last year, cows started appearing all over Guildford. In Brighton it was snow dogs. In Lincoln it is Knights.

Bomber Command Memorial is rarely open, as work is still ongoing. Today was one of those special days when open.

Today a very special visitor, Knight of The Skies, kitted out as aircrew in WWII Bomber Command.

Designer of Knight of the Skies Rosie Ablewhite could not be present. Had she been, I would have complimented her on her interpretation.

I will not describe, other than to mention the sword, look carefully and will see it is the Spire, look again, and will see it is the same as the wingspan of an Avro Lancaster.

The sword is covered in corten steel, same material as the Spire and the concentric Memorial Walls.

Knight of the Skies is signed by the sole surviving member of the Dambusters Raid.

Knight of the Skies will move. He will be found at the top of Steep Hill, in Castle Hill, outside Lincoln Castle where he will be part of the Knights Trail.

Lincoln Knights’ Trail – 36 knights across Lincoln city centre – to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Battle of Lincoln and the sealing of the Charter of the Forest.

According to Professor David Carpenter:

The Battle of Lincoln, one of the most decisive in English history, meant that England would be ruled by the Angevin, not the Capetian dynasty.

The Knights in Lincoln, cows in Guildford, snow dogs in Brighton, are part of a much larger project, Wild in Art.

St George’s Day at Bomber Command Memorial Spire

April 23, 2017

When I last visited Bomber Command Memorial Spire, it was an unpleasant cold March afternoon. Today, by pleasant contrast, although a chill in the air in the morning, a pleasant warm sunny afternoon, especially if got out of the wind.

Daffodils were still in flower. The variety I learnt, a very pale yellow, almost white, is Lady of Lincolnshire.

There are areas of grass intended to be regularly cut, others are of rough grass. I would strongly recommend, the rough areas, sow wild flower seeds and manage as a traditional hay meadow. Allow the grass to grow tall, wait until seeded then mow some time late June. It may even be possible to find a farmer who will be interested in the hay. Then once the hay cut and removed, mow regular, but not short. Ideally once cut for hay, graze animals, rare breeds

There needs to be access to the South Common. If not open access, then a fence or a wall, with a gate, that leads direct down from the Spire, where a path runs along and a path or steps leading down into the common, all it would require are steps leading down to the path.

Today we were honoured with Knight of the Skies, one of a series of Knights dotted around Lincoln. He will then, I was told, move to Castle Hill, top of Steep Hill, outside Lincoln Castle, where he will form part of the Knights Trail.

Bomber Command Memorial was due to officially open in September. That date has now been put back to next year, when it will coincide with 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force.

Bomber Command Memorial

March 19, 2017

Bomber Command Memorial, at the top of Canwick Hill, overlooks South Common, with stunning views across the Witham Valley, over Lincoln, and on a  clear day, as today, over the Trent Valley.

The site is quite eerie, consisting of a central spire, which represents two wings of a Lancaster Bomber, and concentric walls.

The spire and the walls are made of rusting iron, or maybe steel, I assume to represent Lincoln once the city of heavy industry, with foundries, sadly long gone, skilled jobs replaced by low paid temporary McShit jobs.

The spire, not apparent until close up, is hollow.

The walls, are covered in names, cut into the walls both sides, the names of airman who died during World War Two. I was told 56,000, though I did not count.

Not yet open to the public. Today was an Open Day. I was an invited guest.

Also on site and as yet unfinished International Bomber Command Centre and a wooden shed.

Inside the shed, a long table half way down one side, with half a dozen veterans signing books and limited edition prints and answering questions.

One end serving tea and coffee, the other end a few books for sale.

Signed limited edition prints of paintings by one of the veterans.

I was surprised by the number of people there.

Everything run by volunteers, all pleasant and helpful, with two exceptions.

A man thrust a bucket in my face and more or less demanded I put in some money. I had no money, I expected an empty site.

Whilst looking at one of the books, I was told they are for sale not for looking at. He then bragged to an associate that he worked in a charity shop where he tells customers that books are for sale not for looking at.

One thing is needed, and hopefully there will be, when the site is officially open, a way up from South Common, otherwise a long trek round.

There needs to be path and steps leading up from South Common to the Memorial. Then if on the Common, can walk up, or, if at the Memorial and a pleasant day can combine with a walk on the Common.

Children’s experience of the Bombing War

January 25, 2017

In the interwar years, the theory was, all out war, total war. Destroy the cities, destroy the factories, destroy the workers, kill the means of production, destroy morale and the will to go on.

Aerial bombing may have had impact on Arab tribes, possibly because the experience was alien to them

Off the scale was kill millions, wipe out the cities.

Whilst this may be possible today, with the exception of Guernica, which even horrifies today, and Dresden, it was not possible.

Analysis of aerial footage, showed only about five percent of the targets were hit, and from British experience, it was known it was possible to recover very quickly, even when factories were damaged.

Each bomber produced had on average a lifetime of fourteen operational sorties. How best to make use of limited resources?

It was decided to change tack, destroy the housing, an easier target to hit. If the workers had nowhere to live, they would be demoralised.

But again, what basis was there for this?

It was decided to carry out a survey of children, what was their experience of bombing, the 1942 British bombing survey.

Two cities were chosen, Birmingham and Hull. The children were asked to write essays, the essays were then analysed to see what understanding could be drawn from those essays.

The children aged 10 to 12 years old, were asked to write an essay What Happened to Me and What I Did in the Air Raids.

Mrs Ingram got an incendiary bomb in her back bedroom and my father and brother put it out.

…there was a little bang and my brother said that he would have to go out as it was a firebomb and he would have to put it out. While he was putting it out a bomb dropped and blew him inside the shelter again.

When we got into the house there wasn’t half a mess. I started to tidy up and then I lighted [sic] the fire and made my mother and the two other children a nice hot cup of tea.

I was glad that I could do something to help, for there was a lady who came into our shelter who was very frightened. She had a little child of one and a half years. The lady was trembling, I took the little baby, and every time a bomb came down I threw a pillow over myself and the little girl, who was called Sheila. She kept crying but at last I hushed her to sleep.

What these essays showed was the children were coping, the families were coping. They show  the normality, life went on, a bomb may have dropped, put it right with a nice cup of tea.

Dad may be working during the day, on fire watch at night. If injured, he came home, was patched up by Mum and went straight back out again.

Brother helped put out the fires.

Mum looked after the household possessions, tidied and cleaned up the house after a bombing raid.

Sister helped Mum keep order, looked after the little ones, made a nice hot cup of tea.

They coped.

They saw after the initial horror of the bombing raids, the city was not destroyed, they could cope, life went, you kept on smiling. You may be afraid, but that was normal to be afraid.

If the intention was to reduce productivity capacity, or destroy morale, it failed.

This then questioned the effectiveness of bombing German cities.

It also raises question of why the policy of evacuating children from the cities to the countryside.  No only were they able to cope, they actually provided a support mechanism for the family.

And we know, when children were evacuated, they very quickly returned home.

A fatalistic attitude, if we are going to die, we may as well all die together.

We see this today in Syria. Assad does not control the countryside. The only way he controls the cities is by reducing to rubble.

And Assad does not cow the people. When they are finally forced to leave, they are still defiant, the children are defiant. The children even go on-line and record their experiences to let the world know.

The only main difference between Syria and WWII, is that WWII, very clearly defined roles between men and women, whereas in the north of Syria there are very effective Kurdish all-women fighting units.

A future research project, ask the children from  Aleppo to write an essay  What Happened to Me and What I Did in the Bombing Raids.

An excellent talk by Dr James Greenhalgh, senior lecturer, at University of Lincoln Riseholme Campus.

Dr James Greenhalgh is author of a forthcoming book on this topic.

Filming of documentary on bombing raid

December 30, 2016

Filming of a documentary of a World War Two Bomber Command bombing raid from the viewpoint of a Lancaster crew.

Interviews with veterans, film footage of raid.

The film, title not yet known, may be crowdfunded, possible available as DVD and streamed on vimeo.

A taster will be posted on vimeo and youtube.

Filmmaker Andrew Panton.

Christmas Party for Lincoln University archive volunteers and veterans

December 16, 2016

At the Riseholme Campus, Lincoln University held a Christmas Party to say a big thank you to all their volunteers and WWII veterans.

The centre, IBCC Digital Archive,  maintains a record, mainly digital, of first hand accounts of the Second World War, not only from a British perspective, but also from Europe.

The centre will go live on-line hopefully sometime next year. It will be an important source of original material for historians.

A good selection of eats and drinks.

Two veterans of Bomber Command attended, and thanks to the volunteer drivers who brought them.

A third veteran was unable to attend, too busy in his new found hobby of painting, but he did kindly send three of his paintings, which he had donated to the centre.

Harry Parkins was presented with Honour d’Legion, the highest award from the French President, with a letter of commendation from the French Ambassador to the Court of St James

A brief mention of the archive and its work, with a special mention of one of the recent acquisitions, a beautifully  illustrated  diary of an English Prisoner of War held in a German Stalag.

Within the diary, a recipe for a Christmas cake, made one assumed with the Red Cross rations.

It was not at all clear what some of the ingredents were, for example fruit and biscuits. Hazard a guess, and a little experimentation, assume dates something like digestive biscuits.

The lady who baked all the eats, also kindly baked the Prisoner of War Christmas Cake.

What was it like? PoW rations, it cannot be good.

It was nothing like a modern day Christmas cake, but then maybe during WWII, Christmas cakes were different.

To everyone’s pleasant surprise, the Stalag Christmas cake was excellent.

Thanks to the lady who baked the Stalag Christmas cake, and all our delicious eats.

I suggested, publish the recipe  and maybe have  a chat with Curtis, an excellent local independent baker and butcher, and ask them would they like to bake and put on sale with a small donation for each cake sold.

Finally, a big thank you to all the volunteers, who were each presented with a  certificate to thank them for their work.