The hardest day – 18th August 1940

A fly past to honour the few: Eighteen Spitfire’s and six Hurricane’s take to the skies again on the ‘hardest day’ of the war against Hitler. The aircraft whizzed through the air over Sussex in memory of all those who lost their lives throughout the summer fight to stop the Nazis from invading the British shores.2B77D3EE00000578-3202341-image-a-16_1439915601586

August 18 marks exactly three-quarters of a century to the day since Biggin Hill in Bromley, south London, and other South East military bases were targeted by the German Luftwaffe. Just 600 RAF and Fleet Air Arm air crew managed to fly 927 sorties in an effort to stop 2,200 Germans who flew 850 missions on August 18, 1940.

This afternoon I received a call from my long time ‘oppo’ who simply said; “Listen!” – Which I did, just as the distinct roar of Rolls-Royce Merlin engines tore overhead. Followed by; “Guess where I am? – Before I could answer he purposely cut me off! Stirring stuff though, and it did brighten up my day.    Yours_Aye.

Battle of Britain -75th Anniversary

The Battle of Britain: July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940 “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” PM Winston ChurchillBattle of Britain

The average age of an RAF pilot in 1940 was about 20 years. Some were as young as 18 and there were others over 30. battle_of_britain_propaganda_poster_midIn those days, with the ‘age of majority’ set at 21, many of the RAF’s Battle of Britain pilots were not old enough to vote – but not too young to lay down their lives in the face of a life and death struggle to save Britain from coming under the tyranny of the Nazis. Battle of Britain – Roll of Honour

For those with an interest in facts and figures the Battle of Britain Historical Society provides it all.  A hearty B.Z. to the Brylcreem boys who bloodied the Luftwaffe’s nose ‘good n proper’. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.     Yours Aye.

Aviatophobia? Look Away Now!

Incredible footage of Boeing Dreamliner shooting straight up into the sky instantly from take off as pilots prepare for air show. Amazing scenes as a Boeing 787 Dreamliner pilot pushes the jet into a steep climb just seconds after the passenger aircraft takes off in advance of the 2015 Paris Airshow.298B81E200000578-0-image-a-39_1434048840626 The test pilots pushed the aircraft into a climb far steeper than anything that would normally be attempted during an ordinary passenger service in an effort to show the advanced aircraft’s incredible capabilities. Aircraft took off from Washington and performed a range of incredibly complex manoeuvres

‘Mother of Gawd!’ I’d pay for a full flight ticket just to have a window seat on the steep aerobatics climb…  “Ladies & Gentlemen please fasten yarhooooooooo!”   Yours Aye.

‘Yanks in the Royal Air Force’

2954DD5400000578-3109647-image-a-6_1433353131091The first Americans to fight the Nazis revealed: How misfits including taxi driver, Mormon and make-up artist risked arrest by the US to join Britain’s air force in 1940 – and ended 150 years of frosty relations. But this group of unlikely airmen effectively founded the ‘Special Relationship’ between Britain and America when they volunteered to fight for the UK against the Germans in 1940 during WWII. Their unit, 71 ‘Eagle’ Squadron began the thawing of relations between the two countries that had lingered since the War of Independence by signing up for the Royal Air Force even though the American government had forbidden it. Scores of Americans signed up for the Royal Air Force in 1939 and 1940 to take on the Nazis – breaching US law by doing so2954C54B00000578-0-image-a-55_1433351615655

“This is the story of American volunteer pilots who risked their lives in defence of Britain during the earliest days of World War II—more than a year before Pearl Harbor, when the United States first became embroiled in the global conflict. Based on interviews, diaries, personal documents, and research in British, American, and German archives, the author has created a colorful portrait of this small group who were our nation’s first combatants in World War II.

As the author’s research shows, their motives were various: some were idealistic; others were simply restless and looking for adventure. And though the British air force needed pilots, cultural conflicts between the raw American recruits and their reserved British commanders soon became evident. Prejudices on both sides and lack of communication had to be overcome.294E8A9400000578-0-image-m-18_1433345850515

Eventually, the American pilots were assembled into three squadrons known as the Eagle squadrons. They saw action and suffered casualties in both England and France, notably in the attack on Dieppe. By September 1942, after America had entered the war, these now experienced pilots were transferred to the US air force, bringing their expertise and their British spitfire’s with them. As much social as military history, Yanks in the RAF sheds new light on a little-known chapter of World War II and the earliest days of the sometimes fractious British-American alliance.”American Pilots in the RAF

Whilst on my Para course at RAF Brize Norton, I chanced upon a hard back copy of “The Eagle Squadrons” Yanks in the RAF, 1940-1942, by Vern Haugland. A bloody good read.

The British public greatly appreciated the courage of the volunteer American ‘Eagle’ Pilots who had to travel in a group, because they never knew when they might have to scramble and get airborne. When the pilots entered a local Cinema the projectionist would stop the film, and everyone would stand until they were seated, a mark of respect from a grateful British public. Gawd bless yer Yanks!     Yours Aye.

Fighters fly Battle of Britain colours

28F1D3BB00000578-0-image-a-6_1432254528474Fighters fly their Battle of Britain colours: Flying over the green fields of England in World War Two camouflage, two fighter aircraft evoke the brave men who fought and died in the Battle of Britain. One of them, the Hurricane, was the mainstay of the RAF as it defended Britain from the might of the Luftwaffe in the summer of 1940. The other is the ultra-modern Typhoon. The jet was painted with the 249 Squadron number of the only Fighter Command pilot awarded a Victoria Cross during the battle – Flight Lieutenant James Brindley Nicolson. Typhoon jet painted in SecondWorld War camouflage joins a WWII Hurricane in the skies above Lincolnshire in tribute to brave RAF pilots 

Brylcreem boys. “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.”  Gawd bless em all… Yours Aye.

Thank Gawd for Major General Craig Olson

28D35F9800000578-3086503-image-a-2_1431965258418Pressure grows for a United States Air Force General to face court-martial – just for speaking publicly about his Christian faith.  An Air Force general who recently spoke about how God has guided his career should be court-martialed, a civil liberties group has claimed.

Major General Craig Olson used a speech at the National Day of Prayer Task Force event on May 7, to credit God for his accomplishments in the military, referring to himself as a ‘redeemed believer in Christ.’ The address prompted the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to launch a vitriolic attack of Maj Gen Olson, calling for the two-star general to be court-martialed and ‘aggressively and very visibly brought to justice for his unforgivable crimes and transgressions’.

Civil liberties my arse! Words fail me (as I resort to banging my forehead on the desk several times!)      Yours Aye.

Ode to Joy – ‘Attagirl’

286A131A00000578-3072253-image-a-45_1431014650915‘It was the best job to have because it was exciting’: Female Spitfire pilot, 92, takes to the skies 70 years after last flying the iconic plane to aid WWII effort. A female war veteran rolled back the years to take to the skies in a Spitfire again today, decades after she last flew the iconic plane.286A135D00000578-3072253-image-a-47_1431014663343  

Joy Lofthouse, 92, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, was one of only 164 women who were allowed into the Air Transport Auxiliary during World War Two. The small group of female pilots dubbed the ‘Attagirls’ were based at White Waltham in Berkshire and were trained to fly 38 types of aircraft between factories and military airfields across the country.61v363LGzLL

For Joy, flying the Spitfire was the ultimate thrill, and she was delighted to be given the chance to fly the iconic plane again this morning.

I listened to Joy Lofthouse being interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning – what a wonderful woman. We owe an immense debt of gratitude to her – and every other woman who contributed to the war effort in a variety of ways. Gawd Bless em All…      

Yours Aye.

Captain Robert Trimble – WWII Hero

260519E800000578-0-image-a-5_1424795311812The WWII American B-24 pilot who turned spy, saved 1,000 US POWs from certain death at Soviet hands and won medal after medal – but never said a word about his wartime heroismAn American bomber pilot has been unveiled as a secret hero of World War II after he saved more than 1,000 Allied POWs from certain death.26051A5800000578-2967750-Mourned_Lee_Trimble_says_his_father_should_be_remembered_as_a_tr-a-8_1424890307385

Captain Robert Trimble became a spy to smuggle soldiers and civilians out under the noses of the Soviet forces on the Eastern Front in Europe. He fooled guards, stashed $10,000 in his coat to bribe officials as he became a ‘magnet for the lost souls of foreign nations’ left behind in the war. Trimble’s most daring rescue was of 400 French women who he got to safety by arranging for an entire train to meet them at night in the woods. 2618E31800000578-2967750-image-m-19_1425058172476

Captain Robert Trimble became one of the greatest spies of World War II, saving American POWs from certain death in Soviet camps. Despite winning the highest US and French honors he never told anyone of his exploits, which are now detailed in a new book after his death written by his son.

What a great man, who truly deserves to be remembered for his compassion and heroism. I’ve ordered my copy, and I look forward to a good read. BZ Captain Robert Trimble.      Yours Aye.

Buck Pennington an Exile in Portales

Sad news… ‘Buck’ Pennington who blogged as exileinportales has recently crossed the bar. Buck occasionally left comments on this blog that were often drier than sticks in a desert. Among other posts on his own blog, his tales of travel around the UK and Europe whilst serving in the USAF were always a pleasure to read.  

My deepest, and most sincere condolences go out to his family.            Yours Aye.

Per diem, per noctem “By day & by night”

An RAF Special Forces pilot has been kicked out of the RAF for taking cocaine at a party in Hampshire where he boasted to a female colleague of his drug-fuelled sexual exploits. Squadron Leader Michael Hayes, 43- a Chinook pilot was a member of No. 7 Squadron, which is part of the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing that provides support to the SAS and SBS. 7 Squadron RAF ‘Per diem, per noctem’ (“By day and by night”)0050A5C400000258-0-image-a-10_1418163177665In the words of ‘Grandmaster Flash’ – White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It!) Which is far too late for ‘Mr. Michael Hayes’ – but not soon enough for those who sat in the back of his cab on clandestine jaunts through the wee early hours. The man is a pillock through and through. Yours Aye.

Deadly swinging to and fro…

Military’s highest court to hear appeal of Kansas airman accused of exposing people to HIV at swinger parties. A Kansas airman accused of aggravated assault for exposing multiple sex partners to HIV at swinger parties in Wichita will have his appeal heard this week before the nation’s highest military court. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will take up on Tuesday in the case against David Gutierrez, an appeal the defense contends could upend similar prosecutions in the U.S. Military.David Guiterrez ‘This case will have the potential of decriminalizing sexual contact with someone with HIV,’ defense attorney Kevin McDermott said. ‘In his appeal, Gutierrez has challenged whether the risk to his sexual partners was high enough to constitute aggravated assault, arguing that laws covering exposure to the disease are outdated since the statistical probability of heterosexual transmission is low and medical advances have made the disease treatable.’

What a despicable odious wretched man, it is hoped that his appeal fails miserably. On top of which, he should be given an additional ten years for bringing the service into disrepute over his miserable ‘five-a-side’ moustache!            Yours Aye.

Heavy bacon despatch for ISIS

238F0E2C00000578-0-image-18_1417117506875A dozen A-10s and half a dozen Grim Reapers are on their way to the Middle East to join the battle against ISIS militants (right). They will allow more strikes against the Islamic State. A-10s (left) are deadly weapons against lightly armed militant forces and are admired as a psychological weapon as well as for their devastating cannon fire. The Reapers (inset) will be armed with missiles and can stay in the sky for hours. A dozen A-10’s and half a dozen Grim Reapers are on their way to say ‘hello’ to ISIS militants.238ECB9800000578-0-image-2_1417114294101grim-reaper-1The Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) is a wild member of the pig family – which in this case gives merit to the saying that ‘pigs can fly!’ ‘Hey ISIS – meet someone else who likes to dress up in black.’ Though you may not want too… Yours Aye.

Train hard – Fire fight easy

I have a mate who was a pilot for many, many, years (since retired) – who doffed his cap at  the flying skills of this Pilot and crew. Magnificent people men in their flying machines…Old Iron B***sDC-10 Firefighter getting down low, and mixing it large…  Balls of steel!  Yours Aye.

Royal Air Force humanity and splendour

Images which lay bare the humanity and splendour of the Royal Air Force. Members of the public can for the first time vote for their favourite image representing Britain’s Royal Air Force. Air force chiefs are inviting people to decide which picture from the RAF Photographic Competition captures the essence of the service.1407173286172_wps_25_Undated_MoD_handout_photo‘Warming Up for D-Day’: The photograph was taken as this newly painted BBMF (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) Spitfire was returning from its maiden flight in D-Day colours.1407173573515_wps_33_Undated_MoD_handout_photo 

Each year stunning photographs of servicemen and women are published following the annual competition, which is judged by leading figures in the photographic industry. But this year, in a first for the Armed Forces, the public can have their say by voting in an online poll.

Judges have selected a shortlist of nine images from among the various categories of the competition, which admits entries from military and civilian photographers working in public relations for the RAF.  ‘A breath of fresh air’1407173518629_wps_32_Undated_MoD_handout_photo‘Shark Attack’: An RAF Typhoon appears like a shark… Images which lay bare the humanity and splendour of the RAF: Public to decide which best captures the essence of the service                Voting is online at    http://www.raf.mod.uk/photo-of-the-year-2014

Call me old-fashioned if you will; but, if I want a delicate tune knocked out I’ll call upon a Real Military Band, which follows that if I require ‘fast jet-close air support’ from a service that offers the same I would wish to see a Typhoon over my shoulder. Due to impending Government cut backs I will settle for a Spitfire. Sod the humanity and splendour, I’ll go for killing capability, and proven historic ability each and every time…      Yours Aye.     

N.B. RAF brylcreem boys are a sweet-scented delicate lot, so as not to hurt their feelings I have deliberately played down the tempo of this post, and not referred to them by their known military nickname 😉

Aircraft spotters almost greased

200px-Seal_of_the_Turkish_Air_Force.svgA low level approach by the ‘Solo Türk’ F 16 from the aerobatics display team of the Turkish Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri) at RAF Waddington Air Show 2014.

Low level approach by an F-16 of the ‘Solo Türk,’ aerobatics display team…

Last pic below; the ‘Solo Türk’ F 16 from the aerobatics display team of the Turkish Air Force when he isn’t being naughty!             Yours Aye.RAF WADDINGTON 2wave-1024x683

And the call was answered, by hundreds…

article-2673227-1F37121500000578-80_636x463Heartwarming moment hundreds of mourners turned out to funeral of RAF gunner who died aged 90 with no close family.

This is the moment hundreds of mourners turned out to pay their respects to a war hero after it was feared no one would attend his funeral when he died aged 90 with no close relatives.article-2681173-1F6364D800000578-204_634x443

article-2681173-1F63649300000578-572_634x320Sidney Marshall, was an RAF Sgt ‘Air Gunner’ on a Lancaster bomber and flew 28 missions including a bombing raid on D-Day, died at his home in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire on June 16. However, as his wife Elizabeth died last year and no other relatives were living nearby, his undertaker feared no one would to attend his funeral prompting him to launch an emotional appeal. Heartwarming moment hundreds of mourners turned out to funeral of Sydney Marshall 

‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.’                                                                          Yours Aye.