Monthly Archives: July 2014

“The Nottingham Lion Saga”

Originally, it was the “Surrey Puma” which had caused all the fuss throughout the 1960s. The first possible sightings had been recorded in 1959, but by the mid-sixties, at Godalming Police Station alone, 362 reports were received over a two-year period.  And then, in August 1966, a former police photographer took a pale, blurry grainy snap which he claimed showed the Surrey Puma at Worplesdon, near Guildford. The photo was published in the “News of the World”, and showed an animal almost surprised by the fuss.
surrey puma original
It was enough to get the local plods out of the chip shop, though, and out on patrol…

 


They found little (if anything). Ten years later, in the very early morning of July 29th 1976, the focus was very much on the Queen of the Midlands, the beautiful City of Nottingham…
nottingham_councilhall_0
Not on the stone lions on the Council House, the rendez-vous point of countless lovers since they were placed there by the Third Reich School of Architecture in the late 1920s…


Not even the local ice hockey team…..
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But rather on a country lane a few miles from the city centre. It must have been a very countrified area at the time, with lots of now disappeared open fields, and the grassy expanses of the airstrip at Tollerton, the rather grandiosely named “Nottingham Airport”. It was one of the two years of extreme drought in the mid-1970s, and it was….

“…shortly after 6am, 29 July 76, when two milkmen were delivering to a bungalow opposite the entrance to Nottingham airport on Tollerton Lane between Nottingham and Tollerton. Different accounts put it at  15 or 50 yards away from the men; they were in no doubt: “We both saw together what to us us was certainly a lion….its head down and its tail had a bushy end. It was walking slowly away from us.”

It is unclear whether it was a male or a female, but presumably they would have said “lioness” if that was what they had seen.

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It must have been difficult to be mistaken though even at fifty yards’ range.

“They watched it walk around the edge of a field, then called the police from the bungalow. By nightfall, the police mounted a huge search, with dogs, guns, loud hailers and a helicopter, in the Tollerton and West Bridgford areas. The police also said they had calls from people telling of the mysterious restlessness of their pets on the night of the 28/29th; and a local farmer at Clipstone, near Cotgrave, reported ‘strange paw prints’ on his land.”

As is often the case…

“The police found nothing. They checked zoos and private lion-owners within 100 miles, but ‘no-one appears to have lost a lion.’ They said they were taking at least 15 sightings seriously. The hunt hit a turning point in its second day when a sighting at Radcliffe-on-Trent turned out to be somebody’s Great Dane. At the same time a sighting came in from Bassingfield. One of the reports was from as far away as Norfolk by a couple who said they saw a lion in a lay-by at Lowdham (a country village near Nottingham) but did not report it they didn’t think they’d be believed. Yet despite these sightings, the police were getting disappointed by the lack of anything positive. As in the ‘Surrey Puma’ cases, the lack of any killed livestock, no pets missing etc as there would be if there were a lion conventionally on the loose. The milkmen were rechecked and both (David Crowther and David Bentley) were unshaken in their belief that they had actually seen a lion.”

How different from the present day. I cannot imagine that there are too many zoos or private lion-owners within a hundred miles of Nottingham nowadays. It is certainly strange, though, that the two milkmen were adamant about what they had seen…

“On the third day of the hunt, reports were still coming into West Bridgford, the nerve-centre of the operations. One caller heard something big crashing through Bunny Woods, and another heard something in a copse near Trent Lane church at East Bridgford. In fact, the police were obliged to maintain the alert.
Martin Lacey, a former Nottingham zoo owner, enters the fray, saying all the noisy activity has driven the lion into hiding, and offers the use of his lion-hunting Rhodesian ridgeback hounds.”

rhodesian
Just as the press were losing interest in the ‘Nottingham Lion’ the story receives a shot in the rump.

“John Chisholm, a doctor of Normanton-on-the-Wolds, near Tollerton, saw a large animal trying to break through some undergrowth to get to a stream on the evening of 1st Aug, while he was walking near his home. When he returned home he and his wife watched it leave the area from their upstairs window. Police said they were following up several other sightings in the same area.”

Curiouser and curiouser….

“2nd Aug police searching the A610 at Temple Lake, near Kimberley, found a large tortoise on the embankment. They were unable to trace any owner so they adopted it.”

The saga continued…

“The dailies for the next day (3rd) run the story of Dr.Chisholm’s sighting. Naturally in everybody’s eyes the fact that he is a deputy coroner makes the sighting more impressive and believable. (The police were) now 98% certain that there was an animal in the area…..

By the 6th Aug the lack of results was telling on the police. They issued a statement saying they no longer believed there was a lion at large despite 65 reported sightings in the last 8 days. They said that they proved to be mistakes, large dogs, and even a large brown paper bag.”

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After this negative statement, the police announce three more reports of it in the Plumtree and Normanton areas.

It is rather difficult to sort out this East Midlands X-file. If we accept that the two milkmen were not liars, however, and they had not just misidentified somebody’s Great Dane, it would make a lot more sense of they saw a lioness…

With the benefit of 38 years’ hindsight, I suspect that what they actually saw was

In other words, a common-or-garden “Alien Big Cat”

Nowadays, of course, nobody would think twice about claims of seeing a so-called “Alien Big Cat” in this area south of Nottingham, even though it is probably a lot more built-up than it used to be.

I recently saw a TV programme which claimed that there were two identifiable big cat territories centred on Rutland Water, giving a long list of the many different places in the area where animals had been seen. There have been suggestions, too, that these cats, whatever they may be, are making use of disused railway lines to travel around, possibly even penetrating into the suburbs of large cities, rather like foxes have done in the past.

Some ABCs are reported as melanistic…

black panther

But do be careful over the question of size, however…

diagram

Otherwise your claims to the Nottingham Evening Post may leave you looking more than a little stupid…

tomcat
But it’s not all over yet… there are still lions out there, back in 1976…

“No sooner had the Nottingham mystery been killed off, it turns up over 70 miles away just south of York. On the night of the 9th Aug, Alan Pestall was on his way to his local walking down the moonlit main street of Thorganby, when a black shadow crossed in front of him, by the church. He thought it was a dog and spoke to it.

Then I realised it had a cat’s face and a long tail. It was about 3 to 4ft long and nearly 3ft high. Before I had a chance to run, it leaps over a fence and was away over the fields.’

He kept walking slowly to the pub, believing if he hurried or turned it would attack him. Police took his story seriously and mounted a search on the 10th, but found no sign of a lion.”

A police spokesman said

“We have no reason to connect this report with the recent sightings of a lion in Nottinghamshire.”

Almost thirty years later, it was the turn of Norfolk’s Boys in Blue to take on the Killer Menace of the Big Cats..

Thankfully, perhaps, Alan Partridge kept out of it.

 

The picture of the Rhodesian Ridgebacks is used by kind permission of Jackie Ellis whose website is http://www.zejak.co.uk/. Even if you don’t particularly like dogs, there are some lovely cute puppies there…and the bonus is that they’ll protect you from the Nottingham Lion!

 

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Filed under Cryptozoology, Film & TV, History, Nottingham, Wildlife and Nature

A sad, sad day

I write today’s post with a very heavy heart. It is about a human tragedy in Northern Ireland. First though, I will need to explain one or two basics, for the benefit of my wonderful readers in Brazil, Bulgaria, Madagascar and Mauritius.

This is the flag of the United Kingdom…

1280px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom_svgAnd this is the flag of Ireland…

Flag_of_Ireland

Northern Ireland, or Ulster, is not part of Ireland, but one of the  four bits of the United Kingdom. The population of Northern Ireland, however, is a mixture of Loyalists, who wish to remain part of the United Kingdom, and Republicans, who would possibly prefer to be part of Ireland, which is not a kingdom, but a republic. Within Northern Ireland, political parties can often reflect these different groups, and the two flags have taken on an importance which is far greater in Ulster than they could ever have in the three other bits of the United Kingdom, namely, England, Scotland and Wales.

Over the past three or four days, the  BBC have been telling a tragic tale about Bessbrook Pond in County Armagh, in Northern Ireland. I hope you will read their full first report here.

I have abridged it for you in case you haven’t got enough time to spend on the full version.

“25 July 2014
Sinn Féin calls for Irish tricolour flags to be removed from Bessbrook village.
Sometime this week, Irish tricolours have been erected on trees in Bessbrook Pond. Sinn Féin politicians have called for their removal. Sinn Féin member of the Legislative Assembly Mickey Brady said the flags could be seen as intimidating by Protestant residents in the village.
“The issue is causing contention because in Bessbrook particularly there is a mixed community. These flags, some may consider them as overtly sectarian, intimidating and threatening, and I think what we do not want to do in relation to this is perpetuate division.”

Here are the flags in question….
_76521396_tricolours

In a separate report in the “Newry Times”, it was statted that Bessbrook Sinn Féin Councillor Dáire Hughes has called for the removal of (the)two Irish Tricolours….

“The erection of the national flag in places like trees in the middle of a pond is effectively dishonouring it and also neither at any time should it be used to impose, intimidate or disrespect.
“I share the belief that our national flag should at all times command the highest degree of respect,” said the Mayor and he asked for those who erected the flags to remove them.

Four days later, the BBC filed the tragic sequel to their initial story.
Here is my abridged version.

“29 July 2014
A 68-year-old man has drowned in an incident at a lake in Bessbrook village.
Oswald ‘Ossie’ Bradley was swimming to trees in Bessbrook Pond to remove two Irish tricolour flags from trees.
It is claimed Mr Bradley intended to replace them with a Union Flag when he got into difficulties. Police are not treating the death as suspicious.
A teenage boy managed to bring Mr Bradley ashore at about 5:00 p.m. on Monday and attempts were made to resuscitate him.
Emergency services took him to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, about four miles away, where it was announced that he had died.
Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said “This is a very tragic outcome to controversies surrounding flags in this village. His untimely and tragic death is too high a price for any family and community to pay.”

For me, Mr.Kennedy has hit the nail right on the head. Flags might well be seen as  important. They should certainly never be dishonoured. They should never be disrespected. And they should never ever be used to emphasise differences in the community, to intimidate, or to threaten. And most of all, no piece of cloth is more important than a man’s life, or the happiness of his family.

To conclude, though, may I pay my sincerest condolences to the family of Mr.Bradley and the village of Bessbrook.

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A boar, a sow and a hoglet? Surely not!

Any of my readers in either the Americas or Australia will wonder what I am talking about when I get excited about the European hedgehog  (Erinaceus europaeus)…

Hedgehog shropos

But that will be because, according to Wikipedia….

“A hedgehog is any of the spiny mammals of the subfamily Erinaceinae, found through parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and New Zealand (by introduction). There are no hedgehogs native to Australia, and no living species native to the Americas.”

Hedgehogs are lovely, sweet animals, which often turn up in the more countrified or overgrown gardens just as darkness is beginning to fall on a warm summer night, and the bats are coming out to hunt.
It is a well-loved species, which has, however, declined sharply in England over the last ten years, with an overall decrease of at least 25%. Hedgehogs are, in actual fact, disappearing in Britain at a quicker rate than tigers are in their own jungle habitat in  southern Asia. The problems for hedgehogs are the usual ones. Gardens are nowadays generally tidier with lots of neat wooden decking, and hardly any patches of weeds and rough grass, full of slugs and juicy snails. More efficient fences have fewer holes in them to allow hedgehogs to range far and wide. The extensive use of insecticide means fewer insects, and a greater possibility of being poisoned. Road casualties are high because the animals’ first natural defence is to roll up into a spiny ball. Not too effective on a busy highway.
Recently though, in our wonderfully overgrown garden, we have been visited by two, possibly, three hedgehogs. We think that they are either a mother and two different children, or possibly, a father, a mother and one rather small and cute child. They snuffle about in the leaf litter, and yesterday morning, in the wee small hours, at about three o’clock, it was actually possible to hear their chewing and crunching from inside the house.
This is the mother, we think…
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And these individuals are all youngsters, although only their mother could tell them apart, and they may very well be the one and the same little chap photographed on three separate occasions. Spot the catfood…

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I think the reason for the arrival of these lovely, sweet little animals is the prolonged spell of great heat and severe dryness that we are currently experiencing here in England.  The drought means fewer insects than normal, and the hedgehogs are forced to try their luck closer to man than they might otherwise venture. We have fed our visitors with, for example, wet and meaty cat food, and they certainly appreciate a bowl of water. Traditionally, you are supposed to feed them a bowl of milk with lumps of bread in it, but this is not really a very good idea for a lactose-intolerant insectivore, even one who is willing to consume dog food when times are bad.
In this video, the mother is looking out for suitable scraps from the bird table…

My daughter had to stop filming when the hedgehog was on her shoe!
Here is our video of a cute baby hedgehog eating catfood:


The babies are called “hoglets”, and Mummy and Daddy are a “boar” and a “sow”.
If you are successful in finding and feeding any hedgehogs, make sure that you send your data to the 2014 Hibernation Survey which lasts until August 31st of this year. The more scientific data we have about hedgehogs, the more can be done to increase their depleted numbers.

To find out more about how you can attract hedgehogs to your garden and what to feed them, take a stroll along Hedgehog Street.

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The Headless Horror of Grafton County, West Virginia

I’ve just finished watching another episode of “Mountain Monsters”.  This time our hillbilly hunters pursue the Headless Monster of Grafton County, West Virginia, and discover his revolting culinary habits.

Here is the team……..
big cast
In charge is Trapper, with Jeff as researcher, Willy as trap builder, Buck is the rookie, Huckleberry is the security expert, and the absolute star of the show is Wild Bill. Anything is possible for an ex-Marine.

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It didn’t take very much googling to find some original reports from way back in the day. The webpage is entitled “The Grafton Monster sightings of 1965

I have copied and pasted the best contributions to save you the trouble of looking for them, and because they are just so interesting.

Kurt McCoy, from Morgantown, West Virginia, wrote…

“I recently ran across reports of “monster sightings” in the Grafton area, back in June of 1965. Robert Cockrell apparently wrote two articles for the Sentinel about the sightings, one of which was his own.
The “monster” was described as being between seven and nine feet tall with white or light gray skin, “slick like a seal’s”. There were several sightings, but not much publicity and the events have been all but completely forgotten.
Now, since it’s roughly 50 years since those sightings, and given the popularity, and tourist/commercial value that has been given to other better known West Virginia “monsters” (like the Flatwoods “Green Monster” and Pt. Pleasant’s “Mothman”, it seems like a not altogether awful thing to try to preserve and record whatever information can still be gleened about Grafton’s weirdest visitor.
So, anybody remember hearing about the Grafton Monster? Any relative, friends, or neighbors who saw it? Any actual witnesses out there?
If so, let’s hear about it!”

A second contribution from Kurt was…

“The original Grafton Monster sighting was on June 16th, 1964. A newspaper reporter rounded the bend coming on to Riverside Drive and saw a huge white, living Thing on the grass by the river. The Monster was described as having slick skin like a seal’s and no apparent head. The witness sped away, but returned later with two friends and found nothing but grass matted down by the river bank. As they investigated the scene, however, a strange whistling sound seemed to follow them about. The original witness had no intention of reporting the incident for fear of ridicule, but word leaked out from the two friends and, grudgingly, a brief report of the sighting was published in the local newspaper (The Statesman? have to check the notes on that).
Almost immediately there was a wild “monster craze” with bumper to bumper traffic along Riverside drive and dozens of people roaming about the town armed with shotguns, crowbars, baseball bats and other potentially harmful toys. The local authorities, understandably unhappy with this potential disaster, did everything possible to dampen the monster mania. The newspaper printed a follow up story maintaining that the whole thing was just a misidentification of someone pushing a pile of white boxes on a hand cart. The hysteria died down and the whole thing was soon forgotten.
The original witness continued to investigate, however, and found about twenty other witnesses whole described seeing something almost identical to what he saw. A week earlier a man in Morgantown had seen an identical beast in the Mon (sic). The reporter exchanged letters with Gray Barker about the incident (those letters are in the Gray Barker Collection in Clarksburg). Eventually the ridicule and official resistance proved too much and the reporter dropped his investigation–and refuses to talk about it to this very day.
The newspaper reports are real–you can find them on microfilm. The incident was real, whether or not the Monster was.”

Woodsman, of Saint Joseph, Missouri, wrote…

“I have seen the creature called “The Grafton Monster” several times when I was a young man and it is very real. My first encounter I was with my Father cutting wood. We had finished and we’re loading the truck, when our two dogs started barking. We stood there and listened, something was walking, getting closer. My Dad told me to get the gun from the cab (He carried a double barrel 10 gauge with 00 buckshot).Whatever it was had picked up it’s pace and continued toward us. All we knew for sure was, it was big and wasn’t scared of us, the dogs or the chainsaws .It stopped about 50-55 yards from us in the tree’s and went quiet. My Dad pulled both hammers back and stood in front of me, told me to be ready. The next thing that happened I’ll never forget. It stepped out, looked at us, took 3 strides in our direction, turned and walked back into the tree line. That was my first sighting of the beast and I’ll never forget it. My 2nd encounter was about 2 months later at night, fishing alone.”

The Headless Horror is not always quite as headless as he is portrayed. It’s more a question of poor posture, apparently…

wpid-wp-1397870811302

 

Our heroes prepare for the hunt…

They talk to a rather scared eye witness…

prepareing

Both Trapper and Buck get the chance to try out some of the local goo…

Afterwards, there follows a reasonable post-match examination of events, although I would have liked more attention to have been paid to what appeared to be excellent thermal images from the special camera.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, our heroes are left with no physical evidence of their huge adversary. Personally, I wish that they had captured the Headless Horror’s Hat…

black_top_hat

“Mountain Monsters” is on Animal Planet Channel every Thursday at 10.00 p.m. (Sky 523).

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One good tern deserves another… Cemlyn 1988

(An extract from my old birdwatching diary “Crippling Views”)

As I mentioned in a previous blogpost, I used to be a twitcher and ranged far and wide across Great Britain in search of rare birds. The furthest I ever went in a day from my home in Nottingham was to Glasgow and back, a distance of 633 miles, in a successful attempt to see an American Black Duck, which was, at the time, an extremely rare bird. My greatest ever failure was when I went to an island off the south west tip of Wales and failed to see the little American bird which was then called a Yellow-Rumped Warbler (270 miles). At the other end of the spectrum, I once saw an extremely rare bird from the USA, a Cedar Waxwing, as I drove the mile and a half to work in Nottingham. I hastily parked on the empty pavement, walked across to view a flock of birds, and became the fourth person to see this particular individual, the second ever for Great Britain.
I put together many of my twitching tales into a book called “Crippling Views”. I was unsuccessful with every single publisher, and back in the day, there was no Kindle to help the budding author. So……I published it myself as a ring-bound book, and sold it at £5 for a hundred or so pages. It didn’t make my fortune, but the reserve goalkeeper at Liverpool Football Club, Mike Hooper, bought a copy, so that was good enough for me.
One day, “Crippling Views” may see the light of day on Amazon’s print-on-demand, but for now, here is an extract…

“Saturday, July 14th 1988
…over the weeks, I have become increasingly dissatisfied with the in-flight views of Roseate tern that I had at Rhosneigr, Anglesey, in north Wales, that when a Bridled Tern is found at Cemlyn Bay, only a few miles along the coast, I decide to go for it…”

upperparts

Oman
Bridled Tern may be rare in Great Britain, but it’s not particularly uncommon in New Zealand…

new zealand

“Bridled Tern and Roseate Tern. I’ll be killing two birds with one stone, as it were. Indeed, I may not even have to go to Rhosneigr since the ternery at Cemlyn Bay is a secret site for breeding Roseates anyway. I feel fairly confident that we’ll get both birds. After all, one good tern deserves another….”

“It’s a very long trip to Cemlyn from Nottingham, well over two hundred miles, and the furthest I’ve been for a bird so far. The roads get gradually narrower and narrower, once we leave the A55, which is like a motorway compared to the increasingly countrified A5 as it approaches Holyhead. One of my friends is delighted that we go through Llanfairpwyllextremelysillylongwelshname and he bores all of us rigid with his ceaseless repetition of it. We finally know that we are nearing our destination, as we find ourselves hurtling down that true Welsh speciality, the Single Track Road Without Any Passing Places Whatsoever. I still can’t really understand why you seem never to meet anything, but you never do. Does Wales have a gigantic nationwide one way system for tourists?
At last, we reach Cemlyn Bay. As we squeal to a halt in the car park, another birdwatcher shouts to us that the bird has just flown in.”

birders
“This is good, since the bird is apparently in the rather dubious habit of disappearing far out to sea for hours and hours on end. We are therefore, rather lucky in our timing, since, theoretically, if the bird has been out fishing, it shouldn’t be too hungry and should stay loafing around for a good while. There then follows a long trek across the relentless shingle to the ternery.”
shingle
“The whole place is rather peculiar, and perhaps unique from a morphological point of view.”
cemlynbay aerial
“There’s a beautiful, wide sweeping bay, with a shingle bar at one end, and between this and the land, there is a pool of probably salty, or possibly fresh, water. In the middle of this little lake, there is a flat island, covered in dry, scrubby vegetation, with plants all about a foot high. This is where the terns nest. They are mostly Arctic Terns, but with just a few Common Terns, and a whole host of noisy Sandwich Terns with their shaggy caps and black bills, replete with bright yellow tips. There are also a good few Roseates, up to perhaps twelve, sitting on a row of stones, preening.”
Roseate Tern-1b-06-11
“They have lovely all black beaks, and short little red legs. They don’t, however, have the great long tail streamers that they are supposed to have…I presume that they must have broken these off during the busy period of feeding the young. And unfortunately it is also too late in the season for their white breasts to have the pinkish tinge that they are famous for. Nevertheless, they are fairly distinctive birds, particularly in flight, when their broad wings are very noticeable. Overall, they are very pale birds, and we realise that the birds we saw two months ago at Rhosneigr, far out over the sea, were in actual fact Roseates.
The star of the show, the Bridled Tern, stands quietly at the back of the ternery, half masked by vegetation, and other birds.”
imagesA0DNWR5R
“This oceanic bird truly is a magnificent creature, a really tropical looking individual. Its colour is most enigmatic, a kind of brownish black that one of my friends says they use in the fabrics at the factory where he works. As a shade of dress material, it’s called “taupe”. I just don’t know, but it is a rather striking colour. I cannot get over just how exotic the bird looks. After ten minutes or so, it does a series of little flypasts, showing off its darkly coloured upperparts, and its sparklingly white undersides, the whole set off by a kind of negative bandit’s mask, white instead of black.”


“It is straight into my Twitching Charts at Number One.
Probably more significant in terms of bird behaviour though, are the Herring Gulls that perch on top of a distant building, and every now and then swoop down into the ternery , pick up a single unattended tern chick, and then fly off to eat it. They are like Mother Nature’s version of Russian Roulette. If you’re number’s up, it’s curtains. Evolution in action, as the more heedless birds don’t get to pass on their genes.”

That account doesn’t seem almost thirty years ago. It isn’t just Bridled Terns that fly!
They are still, though, a rare bird in this country. Just a month or so ago this year, one was found in the Farne Islands off the coast of Northumbria. In my opinion, these three are the very best of many videos….


Bridled Tern Farne Islands 21 Jun 14

Bridled Tern, Inner Farne

 

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“The Lancaster: Britain’s Flying Past”

Last night, I watched the superb BBC documentary “The Lancaster: Britain’s Flying Past”

The ranks of those who flew Lancasters with Bomber Command in the Second World War have, with the inevitable passage of time, thinned out somewhat, but the BBC has managed to put together the requisite crew of seven combat veterans. There were, therefore, a pilot, a flight engineer, a navigator, a bomb aimer, a wireless operator, a mid-upper gunner and a rear gunner…”tail-end Charlie”.
john sergesant
Every single man in Bomber Command was a proud volunteer. During the course of the war, they were to suffer 55,573 casualties from a total of 125,000 aircrew (a 44.4% death rate). The average bomber usually lasted for fewer than ten sorties. Life expectancy for crew members could be as low as two weeks, the same as a soldier in the Battle of the Somme in the First World War. Of every hundred airmen who joined Bomber Command, forty five were to be killed outright, six would be badly wounded, eight were captured by the enemy, and only forty survived physically unscathed. From the men who were serving in Bomber Command on September 3rd 1939, only 10% made it through to the end of the war some six years later.
There was no knighthood for Bomber Command’s leader  though, and no campaign medal for his “old lags”. In 1945, Roosevelt and Churchill had been asked by Stalin to destroy Dresden for him, and the two Western leaders were only too eager to demonstrate their ability to slaughter the enemy, be it German, or perhaps, even, one day, Russian. But when Bomber Command, as the best area bombers in the world, carried out this ghastly task, as they had been ordered to do , they then found themselves ostracised by those very same politicians, who now wanted to be popular as humanitarians, and to win elections after the end of the war.
It was eventually public subscription that finally paid for Bomber Command’s well-deserved memorial, fifty years or so too late, perhaps…
memorial
The “Lanc” was the greatest bomber ever made. It could fly at 300 m.p.h. and carry an enormous weight of bombs, with the more usual 4,000 pound “cookies” often bolted together to form either 8,000 or 12,000 pound “blockbuster”bombs. A Lancaster might carry hundreds of incendiaries, and some specially adapted aircraft could carry the 22,000 pound, ten ton “Grand Slam” bomb designed by Barnes Wallis.

P1300996 bomb

What an enormous bomb bay….
P1300780zzz
The aircraft’s immense power came from four magicians, well, four Merlin engines to be more precise…
P1300766
The Lancaster is a very large bomber; museums often struggle to fit them in, as here at Duxford

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Best of all is the Lancaster in the RAF Museum at Hendon in north London (very easy to reach off the motorway)

P13203hend
Don’t miss the vain boast of Hermann Göring, painted on the nose of the bomber(with his name misspelt!).

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The Reichsmarschall was also foolish enough to say that if any enemy plane did fly over the Reich, then , as the man in charge of the Luftwaffe, people could call him “Herr Müller”, a common Jewish name. Well, guess who had the last laugh?
Göring‘s medals too, are in the museum…
P132medals
A couple of years ago, I really enjoyed visiting East Kirkby in Lincolnshire to see their Lancaster.  The aircraft does not fly but is taxied around the airfield every day.
P1300617 EK
What a beautiful machine, painted here as “Just Jane”, a fictional character in the wartime newspaper, the Daily Mirror.

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The force of the engines being warmed up is amazing…

Then it sets off around the very large field…

Before returning, eventually, back to its rightful place…

It’s just such a pity that there are so few Avro Lancasters left for us all to enjoy!

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A bird table is a joy every single day!

There were some lovely visitors to our bird table this morning…….
Great tits…
A1  great tit
Only a very few are still feeding their babies…
A2 g tit feeding baby
Thank goodness!
a3a BABY GREAT TITS
There were Blue tits….
A5  blue tit
With plenty of less gaudily coloured youngsters in attendance….
© Marshall Faintich London, UK July 12-19, 2011
For some unknown reason, it can be spelt either Coal or Cole tit, but they were there anyway…

Coal_tit_UK09 wiki
With what I felt were possibly the more dully plumaged youngsters…
Coal_Tit_juvenile_2
There was plenty to look at, with lots of recently fledged youngsters in evidence, taking the easy way to find food.

Soon I will be taking a more in depth look at bird tables, and also at what I am seeing as an increasingly worrying lack of insects in our organic garden.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under My Garden, Nottingham, Wildlife and Nature