Willem Jacob van Stockum-Scientist and Dutch WWII Hero.

Willem Jacob van Stockum was born on November 20,1910 in Hattem,the Netherlands.

Willem moved to Ireland in the late 1920s, Where he studied mathematics at Trinity College, Dublin, where he earned a gold medal. He went on to earn an M.A. from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh.

The outbreak of World War II happened while he was teaching at the University of Maryland. He was eto join the fight against Hitler and Fascism,.

He joined the Canadian Air Corps in June 1941 (according to his sister, he was asked to join the Manhattan project, but chose this instead). Taught mathematics to pilots. Then became a bomber pilot himself. Moved to Britain in the spring of 1943 and joined no. 10 squadron at RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire, he was the only Dutch officer to do so.

He flew a Halifax Mk-III, MZ684, ZA-‘B’ bomber. Completed 6 missions before being shot down by German A.A. fire near Entrammes in France on the night of 9/10 June 1944. All seven crew were killed and are buried at the Cimetière Vaufleury at Laval, Dept. Mayenne, France.

He wrote this article on his reasons for becoming a bomber pilot

“I didn’t join the war to improve the Universe; in fact, I am sick and tired of the eternal sermons on the better world we are going to build when this war is over. I hate the disloyalty to the past twenty years. Apparently people think that life in those twenty years, which cover most of my conscious existence, was so terrible that no-one can be expected to fight for it. We must attempt to dazzle people with some brilliant schemes leading, probably, to some horrible Utopia, before we can ask them to fight.

I detest that point of view. I hate the idea of people throwing their lives away for slum-clearance projects or forty-hour weeks or security and exchange commissions. It is a grotesque and horrible thought. There are so many better ways of achieving this than diving into enemy guns. Lives are precious things and are of a different order and entail a different scale of values than social systems, political theories, or art.

“Why are we not given a cause?” some people ask. I do not understand this question. It seems so plain to me. There are millions and millions of people who are shot, persecuted and tortured daily in Europe. The assault on so many of our fellow human beings makes some of us tingle with anger and gives us an urge to do something about it. That, and that alone, makes some of us feel strongly about the war. All the rest is vapid rationalization. All this talk about philosophy, the degeneration of art and literature, the poisoning of Nazi youth, which the Nazi system entails, and which we all rightly condemn, is still not the reason why we fight and why we are willing to risk our lives.

Here, let us say, is a soldier. He asks himself, “Why should I die?” You would tell him: “To preserve our civilization.” When the soldier replies: “To Hell with your civilization; I never thought it so hot,” you take him up wrongly when you sit down and say to yourself: “Well, after all, maybe it wasn’t so hot,” and then brightly tap him on the shoulder and say: “Well, I’ve thought of a better idea. I know this civilization wasn’t so hot, but you go and die anyway and we’ll fix up a really good one after the war.” I say you take him up wrong because his remark: “To Hell with your civilization” doesn’t really mean that he is not seriously concerned about our civilization. He is simply revolted by the idea of dying for ANY civilization. Civilization simply isn’t the kind of thing you ever want to die for. It is something to enjoy and something to help build up because it’s fun, and that is that, and that is all.

When a man jumps into the fire to save his wife he doesn’t justify himself by saying that his wife was so civilized that it was worth the risk! There is only one reason why a man will throw himself into mortal combat and that is because there is nothing else to do and doing nothing is more intolerable than the fear of death. I could stand idly by and see every painting by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo thrown into a bonfire and feel no more than a deep regret, but throw one small, insignificant Polish urchin on the same bonfire and, by God, I’d pull him out or else. I fight quite simply for that and I cannot see what other reasons there are. At least, I can see there are reasons, but they are not the reasons that motivate me.

During the first two years of the war when I was an instructor at an American University in close contact with American youth and in close contact with the vital isolationist question in the States, I often felt that there was much insincerity, conscious or unconscious, on our, the Interventionist, side of the argument. We had strong views on the danger of isolationism for the United States. We thought, rightly, that for the sake of self-interest and self-preservation the United States should take every step to ensure the defeat of the Nazi criminals. But however sound our arguments, our own motives and intensity of feeling did not spring from those arguments but from an intense passion for common righteousness and decency.

Suppose it could have been proved to us at that time that the participation of the United States in the stamping out of organized murder, rape and torture in Europe could only take place at great cost to the United States, while not doing so would in no way impair her security. Would we not still have prayed that our country might do something? And would we not have been proud to see her do something?

There is an appalling timidity and false shame among intellectuals. The common man in the last war went to fight quite simply as a crusader. I am not talking about politics now, I am not either asserting or denying that England declared war from purely generous and noble considerations, but I am asserting that the common man went and fought with the rape of Belgium foremost in his mind and saw himself as an avenger of wrong.

After the war the common man went quietly back to his home. The intellectuals, however, upon coming back, ashamed of their one lapse of finding themselves in agreement with every Tom, Dick and Harry, must turn around and deride the things they were ready to give their lives for. As they were the only vocal group, the opinion became firmly established that the last war was a grave mistake and that anyone who got killed in it was a sucker.

And now, in this war, these intellectuals are hoist with their own petard. They lack the nerve and honesty to represent the American doughboy to himself for what he is. They do not give him the one picture in his mind which would stimulate his imagination and which would make him see beyond the fatigues, the mud, the boredom and the fear. The picture is there for anyone to paint who has a gift for words. It is a simple picture and a true picture and no one who has ever sat as a small child and listened with awe to a fairy story can fail to understand. The intellectuals, however, have made fun of the picture and so they won’t use It.

But some day an American doughboy in an American tank will come lurching into some small Polish, Czech or French village and it may fall to his lot to shoot the torturers and open the gates of the village jail. And then he will understand.

There is a lot of talk among our intellectuals about our youth. Our youth is supposed to want a change, a new order, a revolution or what not. But it is my conviction that that is emphatically NOT what our youth wants. Have you ever been in a picture house on a Saturday afternoon, when it is filled with children and some old Western movie is ending in a race of time between the hero and the villain? Have you seen the rapt attention, the glowing faces, the clenched fists? What our young men really want is to be able to give that same concentrated attention and emotional participation, this time to reality, and this time as heroes and not as spectators, that they were able to give to unsubstantial shadows, before long words and cliches had killed their imaginations. Killed them so dead that they can no longer see even reality itself imaginatively.

It is up to the intellectuals to rekindle the thing they have tried to destroy. It is as simple as St. George and the Dragon. Why not have the courage to point out that St. George fought the dragon because he wanted to liberate a captive and not because he wanted to lead a better life afterwards? Some day, sometime, my picture of an American doughboy in a Polish village will become true. Wouldn’t it be better for him then to have the cross of St. George on his banner than a long rigmarole about a better world?

As long as our intellectuals and leaders do not have the courage to risk being thought sentimental and out-of-date and are not willing to stress that nations as well as individuals are entitled to their acts of heroism and chivalry, they will never be able to give our youth what it needs.

It is true that every fairy story ends with the words: “and they lived happily ever after.” How irritating a child would be, though, if it interrupted its mother at every sentence to ask: “But, Mummy, will they live happily ever afterwards?” It simply isn’t the point of the fairy story and it isn’t the point of this war.

Presumably we won’t live happily ever after this war. But just as a fairy story helps to increase a child’s awareness and wonder at the world, so this war may make us more aware of one another. Perhaps we shall learn, and perhaps some things will be better organized. I hope so. I believe so. But only if we engage in this war with our hearts as well as our minds.

For goodness’ sake let us stop this empty political theorizing according to which a man would have to have a University degree in social science before he could see what he was fighting for. It is all so simple, really, that a child can understand it.”

Below is a translation of the last letter he wrote to his mother, and actually the last words he ever wrote.

Willem to Olga van Stockum, 7 June 1944
[Translated by Engelien de Booij; this was shortly before Willem took off on his last flight from his Yorkshire RAF station, bombing a bridge over the river next to Laval, France.]

“Dear Mother, I am curious to know whether you have noted the date of my last letter. I cannot tell you how great the satisfaction was to be one of those who dropped the first bombs during the invasion. Officially we did not know it would start on June 5th, but the instructions we got, the mysterious doings, our route and what we could expect while in flight, made us fairly sure that this was The Day. We did our job in difficult circumstances, although there was not a very big opposition. … I am free tonight and am glad of it, for the strain is great and we had not a moment’s rest in the past days. Our kind of job needs hours of preparation, the operation itself takes 6 hours and after that debriefings, etc. Then a meal, to bed, sleep, and again preparations. Of course, we did not know beforehand it would be rather easy, and the nervous strain makes your breathing faster. Soon it will be worse, when the Germans get more information. But I would not want to miss this time for anything, and I am very thankful that I resisted the temptation to go to the other station, where Bierens de Haanals10 is, for then I would be now between two squadrons and perhaps have missed all this. My crew is perfect, calm, matter of fact, and one cannot find any signs of being nervous. I sometimes have the feeling I am the only one who is…. but perhaps they think the same thing of me. I have the feeling there is an enormous energy in everybody and even the B.B. (body building programs) are better and more imaginative. The whole station comes out to see us off when we take off, with their thumbs up and this is a pleasant feeling. I know how you and Hilda enter into my feeling now, and this is an invigorating feeling. [Note from Engelien – I cannot find the rest of this letter, unless the following fragment is the continuation, but this seems not very probable.] My roommate [at the air station in the UK – Yorkshire?] is a Belgian pilot aged 40 who doesn’t speak English [or Dutch], and with whom I spend much of my time, which is very good for my French. If only you could hear all the fantastic stories people tell, more interesting than the most terrible spy thriller!! My friend came here a few months ago here after having been in the Belgian underground movement. Did I write you that I saw in London Aunt Mia [Tante Mies?] quite often? We sympathized with each other about our tastes in literature. We talked about Dostoyevsky and she told me that you had written such a wonderful article about him. How nice there are people who remember this. I would like to see it some time. I long to read it. Very, very much love from your son Willem”

sources.

http://www.cgoakley.org/efa/1910WJvS.html

http://www.cgoakley.org/efa/WJvSletters.html

https://oorlogsgravenstichting.nl/persoon/148527/willem-jacob-van-stockum

http://aircrewremembered.com/1944-06-10-loss-of-prof-willem-van-stockum.html

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Christopher Lee-Heavy Metal star

We all know Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, or as the Sith lord Count Dooku. Some of you may even know him as the evil wizard Saruman from the Lord of the Rings. Others may know him as the dentist father of Willie Wonka.

Few will know of his real life heroic exploits during World War 2 ,where he was attached to the No. 260 Squadron RAF as an intelligence officer where he was a liaison officer for the Special Operations Executive.

Even fewer will know him as a Rock star, Heavy Metal star even, yet he was.

Lee became a fan of metal in the early Seventies when he first heard Black Sabbath, whose guitarist Tony Iommi reciprocated the respect the actor had for his band and the genre it spawned. In a 2013 promotional video for one of Lee’s own albums, he told Iommi, “You are the father of metal,” to which the guitarist replied, “But you’re the one that started it, really, because we used to go watch Dracula and the horror films you did and that’s what influenced us.”

He worked together with Heavy Metal acts like Rhapsody of Fire and Manowar.

In late 2010 it was announced that Manowar were to rerecord Battle Hymns for a November 26 release. The album, Battle Hymns MMXI, was drummer Donnie Hamzik’s first studio recording with Manowar since the original 1982 Battle Hymns release. Orson Welles having died 25 years before, the narration during “Dark Avenger” was recorded by Sir Christopher Lee.

But prior to the Manowar’s re-release of “Battle Hymns” Christopher Lee had already released his first album.

“Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross” is a symphonic metal concept album . It was released on 15 March 2010. This was Lee’s first full-length album. It tells the story of Charlemagne, the First Holy Roman Emperor. The album’s promotional MySpace page garnered over 20 million hits globally The album features 2 metal bands, and a number of guest vocalists playing the different roles in the story. Music was composed by Marco Sabiu. A music video for “The Bloody Verdict of Verden” was released in June 2012.

Christopher Lee was 90(yes that’s right 90) when the single was released. That must surely make him the oldest Rocker ever.

He had released two albums previously. His first one “Christopher Lee Sings Devils, Rogues & Other Villains” released in 1998 was not Heavy Metal albums.

His second album “Revelation” from 2006 was a cover album and did include some heavy metal tracks. like “The Toreador March”.

In 2012 and 2013 he released two Christmas albums .titled “A Heavy Metal Christmas” (2012), and “A Heavy Metal Christmas Too” (2013).

2013 must have been a busy musical year for Sir Christopher lee, because he also released the follow up to “Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross” that year, titled “Charlemagne: The Omens of Death”

It was his fourth and final album and was released on 27 May 2013,his 91st birthday It is a sequel to his album Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross (2010). The music was arranged by Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner, and features prominent Guatemalan guitar virtuoso and World Guitar Idol Champion Hedras Ramos on guitar, as well as his father, Hedras Ramos Sr, on bass.

This must make Sir Christopher Lee the coolest man on earth. He would have been 99 today. Alas he died on June 7, 2015, aged 93. But the man live a truly full life.

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Dirk Bogarde-Not just an actor.

Dirk

I don’t know why but ever since I moved to Ireland I have found myself explaining my name quite a bit. I have been called Derek,Declan,Kirk and other variations.Nowadays I usually say “Dirk like Dirk Bogarde” it mostly takes another few minutes for people to get my last name right. Most people will have heard of the actor

He was a British actor although his Father was of Flemish ancestry.

Although I do mention his name while explaining my name to people. I have to be honest. I am no Dirk Bogarde. I wish I was for he was not only a great actor he was also a formidable human being.

I will not go into his acting career but will focus on some of his activities. During the war, Derek Bogarde served in the British Army, at the start with the Royal Corps of Signals before in 1943 being commissioned at the age of 22 into the Queen’s Royal Regiment  as a second lieutenant.

He served for a while at RAF Medmenham a unit specialized in photographic intelligence.  in the Army reconnaissance section as a visual inspector. Analyzing aerial photographs using special glasses to create 3D effects.

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The unit played a  pivotal role in gathering intelligence  on the V1 and V2 programs.

Bogarde was one of the first Allied officers in April 1945 to reach the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, this experience had the most profound effect on him and about which he found it difficult to speak for many years afterward. In an inteview he described what he saw. He got the dates wrong, the camp was liberated on the 15th of April.

“I think it was on the 13th of April – I’m not quite sure what the date was”  “when we opened up Belsen Camp, which was the first concentration camp any of us had seen, we didn’t even know what they were, we’d heard vague rumours that they were. I mean nothing could be worse than that. The gates were opened and then I realised that I was looking at Dante’s Inferno, I mean … I … I still haven’t seen anything as dreadful. And never will. And a girl came up who spoke English, because she recognised one of the badges, and she … her breasts were like, sort of, empty purses, she had no top on, and a pair of man’s pyjamas, you know, the prison pyjamas, and no hair. But I knew she was girl because of her breasts, which were empty. She was I suppose, oh I don’t know, twenty four, twenty five, and we talked, and she was, you know, so excited and thrilled, and all around us there were mountains of dead people, I mean mountains of them, and they were slushy, and they were slimy, so when you walked through them … or walked – you tried not to, but it was like …. well you just walked through them, and she … there was a very nice British MP, and he said ‘Don’t have any more, come away, come away sir, if you don’t mind, because they’ve all got typhoid and you’ll get it, you shouldn’t be here swanning-around’ and she saw in the back of the jeep, the unexpired portion of the daily ration, wrapped in a piece of the Daily Mirror, and she said could she have it, and he” [the MP] “said ‘Don’t give her food, because they eat it immediately and they die, within ten minutes’, but she didn’t want the food, she wanted the piece of Daily Mirror – she hadn’t seen newsprint for about eight years or five years, whatever it was she had been in the camp for. … she was Estonian. … that’s all she wanted. She gave me a big kiss, which was very moving. The corporal” [MP] “was out of his mind and I was just dragged off. I never saw her again, of course she died. I mean, I gather they all did. But, I can’t really describe it very well, I don’t really want to. I went through some of the huts and there were tiers and tiers of rotting people, but some of them who were alive underneath the rot, and were lifting their heads and trying …. …. trying to do the victory thing. That was the worst.

“After the war I always knew that nothing, nothing, could ever be as bad … … but nothing could frighten me any more, I mean, no man could frighten me any more, no Director … … nothing could be as bad as the war, or the things I saw in the war.”

Bergan

Dirk Bogarde truly remarkable man.

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Sources

BBC

 

Willem Jacob van Stockum-Scientist and WWII Hero.

Willem Jacob van Stockum

This is one of those men that makes me proud to be Dutch, and like me he has also a connection with Ireland.

He was born in Hattem, a small town  in the east of the Netherlands. His father was an officer in the Dutch Navy.

Willem studied mathematics at Trinity College, Dublin, where he earned a gold medal.

Trinity College, Dublin

He continued his studies in Edinburgh and Toronto where he received  an M.A. from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh. His main academic achievement was to solve Einstein’s field equations for an infinite rotating cylinder. His work is regularly cited by those interested in time travel.

Van Stockum moved to the USA in hope of becoming an understudy to Albert Einstein.albert-einstein

Eventually in the spring of 1939 he gained a temporary position under Professor Oswald Veblen at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

 

The outbreak of World War II happened  while he was teaching at the University of Maryland. Eager to join the fight against Hitler and Fascism, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941, where he eventually earned his pilots wings in July 1942.

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Because of his advanced knowledge of physics, he spent much of the next year as a test pilot in Canada. After the Netherlands was invaded by the Nazis, van Stockum sought to join the war as a pilot.

He moved to Britain in the spring of 1943 and and in 1944 became the only Dutch officer posted to the no. 10 squadron at RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire.

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On 10 June 1944, van Stockum and his crew of six took off on their sixth combat mission, as part of another 400-plane raid. Near their target, the plane was hit by flak, and all seven crew members were lost, along with seven from another bomber on the same mission. The fourteen airmen are buried in Laval, near the place where the planes went down.

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Ending the blog with the last line he wrote in an article about his decision of  becoming a fighter pilot.

“For goodness’ sake let us stop this empty political theorizing according to which a man would have to have a University degree in social science before he could see what he was fighting for. It is all so simple, really, that a child can understand it.”

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The Gloster Meteor

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On this day 75 years ago the Gloster Meteor,  the first British jet fighter and the Allies’ only jet aircraft to achieve combat operations during WWII, made it’s first flight. Neill Michael Daunt was the first pilot to fly the Gloster Meteor on March  5 1943.

 

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Despite Germany’s technological advantage, the Meteor was the first operational jet fighter in the world. It became the history-making plane after beating the Me 262 into squadron service by a few days.

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The first unit to fly with the Gloster Meteors  was RAF No.616 Squadron. They received the first of their jet fighters on July 12, 1944..

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While the Me 262 saw action against Allied aircraft over Germany, the Gloster Meteor began its service career against the V-1 Flying Bomb, and despite the best efforts of its pilots never had the chance to prove itself against the Luftwaffe..

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Although I am a bigger fan of the Spitfire and Mustang, I have to admit the Gloster Meteor does look like an awesome piece of aviation.

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Spitfire

Capture

I am not an aviation expert and even less of a military aviation expert, far from it. But that is what makes the Spitfire so special. Despite my ignorance in all matters aviation I do know what a Spitfire is, and like me anyone who doesn’t have a clue about airplanes they still will recognize a Spitfire.

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Although there have been many other majestic fighters during WWII like for example the Mustang.

XP-51,_serial_number_41-039

It is the Spitfire which is most recognizable of all of them. As I said earlier everyone knows how a Spitfire looks like.

The Spitfire was designed by Reginald Mitchell of Supermarine Ltd., in response to a 1934 Air Ministry specification calling for a high-performance fighter with an armament of eight wing-mounted 0.303-inch (7.7-mm) machine guns.

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One of the Spitfire’s most important contributions to Allied victory was as a photo-reconnaissance aircraft from early 1941. Superior high-altitude performance rendered it all but immune from interception, and the fuel tanks that replaced wing-mounted machine guns and ammunition bays gave it sufficient range to probe western Germany from British bases.

In late 1943 Spitfires powered by Rolls-Royce Griffon engines developing as much as 2,050 horsepower began entering service. Capable of top speeds of 440 miles (710 km) per hour and ceilings of 40,000 feet (12,200 metres), these were used to shoot down V-1 “buzz bombs.” During World War II.

Marschflugkörper V1 vor Start

Spitfires were exported in small numbers to Portugal, Turkey, and the Soviet Union, and they were flown by the U.S. Army Air Forces in Europe. When production ceased in 1947, 20,334 Spitfires of all versions had been produced, 2,053 of them Griffon-powered versions.

Fighter versions of the Spitfire were dropped from RAF service during the early 1950s, while photo-reconnaissance Spitfires continued in service until 1954.

It is not often I bestow the title of Hero to a non human, but in this case I think it warrants to name that ruler of the skies a hero.

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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the Battle of Britain

Heinkel_He_111_during_the_Battle_of_Britain

The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of the Second World War, when the Royal Air Force (RAF) defended the United Kingdom (UK) against the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).

The British officially recognise its duration as from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps with the period of large-scale night attacks known as the Blitz,while German historians do not accept this subdivision and regard it as a campaign lasting from July 1940 to June 1941.

But rather then going into too much detail, thus article will mainly consist of photographs. I couldn’t possibly add anything more then what is already written about this.

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Not all of the pilots were British .Czech pilots of No. 310 Squadron at RAF Duxford in September 1940..

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The RAF was organised into different ‘Commands’ based on function or role, including Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands. While victory in the Battle of Britain was decisively gained by Fighter Command, defence was carried out by the whole of the Royal Air Force.

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During the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe was dealt an almost lethal blow from which it never fully recovered. Although Fighter Command suffered heavy losses and was often outnumbered during actual engagements, the British outproduced the Germans and maintained a level of aircraft production that helped them withstand their losses.

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One of many German maps of the planned invasion of Britain.

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Although not a major contributor to the 1940 air campaign against Britain, Italy did volunteer as many as 170 planes to the effort. In fact, more than five per cent of the 2,500 Axis aircraft committed to the battle were Italian

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Oberleutnant Armin Faber-Oops I did not mean that to happen.

IN15-Oberleutnant-Armin-Faber

Oberleutnant Armin Faber was a Luftwaffe pilot in World War II who mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and landed his Focke-Wulf 190 (Fw 190) intact at RAF Pembrey in south Wales. His plane was the first Fw 190 to be captured by the Allies and was tested to reveal any weaknesses that could be exploited.

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Oberleutnant Armin Faber anxiously scanned the ground below, his eyes constantly drawn to the fuel gauge of his Focke-Wulf 190 fighter, hoping desperately to spot an airfield. It was the evening of 23 June 1942 and the Luftwaffe pilot, running perilously low on fuel after an intense dogfight over southern England, was searching for somewhere to put his aircraft down.

Minutes later a feeling of relief washed over him. There in the distance was an aerodrome. He rapidly descended, gently bumped the Fw 190 down onto the grass airstrip, cut his engine and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

No sooner had he done so, however, than a man in blue uniform came running towards his plane, holding what looked like a pistol. Strange, the German pilot thought. Then, as the figure came nearer, he recognised the man’s uniform and his heart instantly sank – it was that of an RAF officer!

Before Faber could restart his engine the man reached the cockpit and shoved a Very pistol in his face. Faber realised that he wasn’t in France at all. In fact, the Luftwaffe pilot had landed at RAF Pembrey in South Wales, home to the RAF’s Air Gunnery School.

 

2017-06-23

In June 1942, Oberleutnant Armin Faber was Gruppen-Adjutant to the commander of the III fighter Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2, Second Fighter Wing) based in Morlaix in Brittany. On 23 June, he was given special permission to fly a combat mission with 7th Staffel. The unit operated Focke-Wulf 190 fighters.

Faber’s Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3 of III/JG 2 at RAF Pembrey, June 1942

The Fw 190 had only recently arrived with front line units at this time and its superior performance had caused the Allies so many problems that they were considering mounting a commando raid on a French airfield to capture one for evaluation.

7th Staffel was scrambled to intercept a force of six Bostons on their way back from a bombing mission;

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the Bostons were escorted by three Czechoslovak-manned RAF squadrons, 310 Squadron, 312 Squadron and 313 Squadron commanded by Alois Vašátko.

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All the Bostons returned safely while a fight developed over the English Channel with the escorting Spitfires, which resulted in the loss of two Fw 190s and seven Spitfires, including that of Alois Vašátko, who was killed when he collided with an Fw 190 (the German pilot bailed out and was captured).

During the combat, Faber became disoriented and separated from the other German aircraft. He was attacked by Sergeant František Trejtnar of 310 Squadron. In his efforts to shake off the Spitfire, Faber flew north over Exeter in Devon. After much high-speed maneuvering, Faber, with only one cannon working, pulled an Immelmann turn into the sun and shot down his pursuer in a head-on attack.

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Trejnar bailed out safely, although he had a shrapnel wound in his arm and sustained a broken leg on landing; his Spitfire crashed near the village of Black Dog, Devon.M

Meanwhile, the disorientated Faber now mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and flew north instead of south. Thinking South Wales was France, he turned towards the nearest airfield – RAF Pembrey.

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Observers on the ground could not believe their eyes as Faber waggled his wings in a victory celebration, lowered the Focke-Wulf’s undercarriage and landed.

The Pembrey Duty Pilot, Sergeant Jeffreys, identified the aircraft as German while it was landing and he ordered his men to signal it to park in the dispersal area. As the Fw 190 slowed, he jumped onto its wing and took Faber prisoner with a flare gun (as Pembrey was a training station, Jeffreys had no other weapon to hand).

Faber was later driven to RAF Fairwood Common for interrogation under the escort of Group Captain David Atcherley (twin brother of Richard Atcherley).

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Atcherley, fearful of an escape attempt, aimed his revolver at Faber for the entire journey. This was possibly unwise as at one point, the car hit a pothole, causing the weapon to fire; the shot only narrowly missed Faber.

What the RAF needed was an intact Fw 190 so that they could unpick the technical secrets of Hitler’s new super-fighter. But how to get hold of one? Various schemes were put forward, one of the more outlandish being proposed by Squadron Leader and decorated ‘ace’ Paul Richey, which sounds like a plot straight out of Dad’s Army.

His plan was for a German-speaking RAF pilot, wearing Luftwaffe uniform, to fly a captured Messerschmitt fighter (of which the RAF possessed several) made to look as if it had been damaged in combat, into France and land at an Fw 190 aerodrome. The “German” pilot, would then “taxi in to where the 190s were, let off a stream of German, say he was a Colonel so-and-so, and wanted a new aeroplane as there was a heavy raid coming this way. With any luck, an airman would see him into a Focke Wulf…and he’d take off and head for home..

But Richey plan was not required because Armin Faber delivered the RAF with the FW 190,’free of charge’.

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Imber friendly fire incident

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The Imber friendly fire incident took place on the 13 April 1942 at Imber, England, during the Second World War. One of the Royal Air Force fighter aircraft taking part in a firepower demonstration accidentally opened fire on a crowd of spectators, killing 25 and wounding 71. Pilot error and bad weather were blamed for the incident

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On 13 April 1942 the weather was hazy and six Royal Air Force (RAF) Hawker Hurricanes from No. 175 Squadron RAF and six Supermarine Spitfires from No. 234 Squadron RAF were being used for a demonstration of tactical airpower at Imber, a British Army training ground on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

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The event was a dress rehearsal for an upcoming visit by Winston Churchill and General George Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army and attended by a number of military personnel.

The Spitfires overflew followed by the Hurricanes. Five of the Hurricanes hit the correct targets: several armoured vehicles and mock tanks. The pilot of the sixth Hurricane opened fire at the spectators before continuing with the demonstration. Casualties were 25 military personnel killed and 71 wounded.

The following day the War Office and Air Ministry issued a joint statement:

During combined excercises to-day in Southern England there was an unfortunate accident in which a number of soldiers, including some members of the Home Guard, were killed and other injured. The next-of-kin have been informed.[4]

First reports were that 14 had died with forty to fifty injured but this was later revised to 23 killed on the day (16 officers and seven soldiers). Four of the officers were members of the Home Guard.Two other officers died from wounds in the next few days, one on the 14 April the other (a Home Guard officer) on the 15 April to bring the total deaths to 25.

The Court of Inquiry found the pilot, 21-year-old Sergeant William McLachlan was guilty of making an error of judgement and that the weather at the time contributed to the incident. The pilot of the Hurricane had misidentified the spectators as dummies, thinking that they were part of the demonstration when he opened fire.

An inquest held at Warminster into the deaths recorded that the deaths were caused by gunshot wounds and attributed to misadventure. The RAF pilot told the inquest he lost sight of the aeroplane he was following in the haze and realised he had made a mistake after he fired. The coroner also pointed out that, contrary to rumour, the pilot was British and not American.

 

Operation Oyster-The Bombing of Philips Eindhoven

 

For 10 years I worked for Philips and was not aware of this bit of the company’s history, although I worked in a different plant in another city, the links to Eindhoven were substantial because HQ was located there.

On this day 74 years ago the Philips Radio Works in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands was bombed by the RAF.It was a daring low-level attack which turned out to be a notable success for the allies as it cost the Germans an estimated six months loss of production.

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On 6th December 1942 the RAF mounted Operation Oyster, a daylight low level bombing raid on the Philips electronic company in Eindhoven, Holland. It was hoped that this approach would minimise casualties amongst Dutch civilians. It also provided the opportunity to build a well photographed publicity exercise around the whole raid. The Mosquito was developing quite a reputation for this low level work, although only a small proportion of the aircraft on the raid were of this type.

Squadroner Leader Charles Patterson was one of the more experienced pilots taking part, his observers seat was occupied by Flying Officer Jimmy Hill from RAF Film Unit – the footage from this raid can be seen be seen in the video below:

93 aircraft took part in the raid;
47 (PV-1) Venturas Mk. Is of RAF No. 21, RAAF No. 464 and RNZAF No. 487 Squadrons.

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36 (A-20) Boston IIIs of Nos. 88, 107, and 226 Squadrons

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10 Mosquito Mk. IVs of No.105 and No.139 Squadrons;
83 aircraft dropped bombs and one Mosquito was a photographic aircraft.
Eindhoven is beyond the range of fighter escort so the raid was flown at low level and in clear weather conditions.

Bombing had to be very accurate to only cause damage to factories in the complex as the Factories were in the middle of the town.
Normally they were also full of Dutch workers under Nazi guard so the raid was carried out on a Sunday to try and reduce civilian casualties.
Unfortunately some bombs fell in nearby streets killing 148 Dutch people and 7 German soldiers.
Full production at the factory was not reached again until six months after the raid..

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/03/15/forgotten-history-frits-philips/