Author Archives: jfwknifton

What would you do ? (12) The Puzzle

“What would you do ?” used to figure on the cover of a boys’ comic called “Boys’ World”. This was a publication, obviously, aimed at boys and first appeared on January 26th 1963. There were 89 issues before the comic was merged with Eagle in 1964. The last issue of “Boys’ World” came out on October 3rd 1964.

I used to buy “Boys’ World”, and this was mainly for the front cover which always featured a kind of puzzle. It was called “What would you do ?” and was based on somebody being in what Ned Flanders would call “A dilly of a pickle”:

Here’s the situation:

The yellow box sets the scene, and the task is for you to solve the situation. Perhaps you might like to write your idea in the “Comments” section.

Here’s the yellow box enlarged:

So…..a V.1 flying bomb, a “doodlebug”, as they were nicknamed by the people of London. You have to destroy it but your  Hawker Tempest V has run out of ammunition’

I think I can guess the answer, but be very careful. There’s a whole ton of explosives on board that Vergeltungswaffe Eins. So much for the indiscriminate bombing of women and children!

19 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, History, military

“A long forgotten war, wasted young lives” (5)

The Second Boer War (1899 – 1902) was fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer (Dutch) states, the Republic of Transvaal and the Orange Free State, over the British Empire’s influence in South Africa. The British Empire owned Cape Colony and the Bechuanaland Protectorate:

The catalyst for the war was the discovery of diamonds and gold in the Boer states.

William Henry Heath was born on June 11th 1882. His father was Henry Heath and he was a farmer at Bestwood Park which is to the north of the city of Nottingham. Bestwood Park was originally a hunting estate in Sherwood Forest, owned by the Crown from the Middle Ages until the seventeenth century, when King Charles II gave it to his mistress, Nell Gwyn.

Nell was a famously shy girl, who always kept herself to herself and very much liked to read about embroidery and the lives of the saints:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

More seriously, the topless painting is called “Portrait of a Courtesan, thought to be Nell Gwyn” and comes from the studio of Sir Peter Lely (1618-80). The more or less clothing free effort is called “Portrait Of A Young Lady And Child As Venus And Cupid” and is known as a picture definitely by Lely.  Sir Peter was the finest painter of the Restoration and the official artist to King Charles II.  And Nell Gwyn? Well, she is known to have been “one of the first women to abandon her modesty to advance her career.”

Two hundred years in the future, William Heath’s mother was Mary Ann Heath and according to the various censuses, by 1891, William had a brother, Leonard, and two sisters, Margaret Annie and Mary. By 1901, Henry,  Evelyn and  Dorothy have appeared and by 1911, another brother, Norman. Depending on the date of his departure to South Africa, William may never have seen Evelyn or Henry and he certainly never saw Dorothy. The farm in 1911 is given as “Sunrise Farm” although that is not necessarily the farm of William’s boyhood. For his education, he may possibly have gone initially to Grosvenor School, a preparatory school at Nos 107-109 Waterloo Crescent, a pleasant footpath off Mount Hootton Road on the western side of the Forest Recreation Ground. Here it is today:

William entered the High School on January 22nd 1895 as Boy No 1366. He was twelve years of age and he went straight into the Upper First with Mr Marriott as his Form Master. Mr Marriott taught at the High School from 1891-1897. He was originally a temporary teacher but he was given a full time job after his first year. He had a BA degree and was a late Scholar of Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge University.

There were 32 boys in the Form and of the 30 boys who took the end-of-term examinations, William came 19th. The School List gives us a number of his exact placings subject by subject… English (18th), French (12th), Latin (16th), Writing (14th), and he came third in Drawing. He had been placed in Mathematical Set XII. The following year, it was the Lower Second with Mr Wilfrid Tyson Ryles. There were 29 in the Form and 28 took the examinations. William finished 15th. Here he is in class with Mr Ryles standing back left of the photograph.

William improved very well over the course of the year though, because he was awarded the Lower Second Prize for the Summer Term. But then it was more of the same…. English (10th), French (18th), Latin (15th) and Writing (25th). He was still  in Mathematical Set XII.

The next year of 1896-1897 was his third, and his last. He spent it in the “Shell” with Mr Hodgson, who was the first ever master of this newly invented Form which was designed to receive boys who entered the school late, usually from state schools, and with little or no previous French or German, and certainly no Latin. The following year they were expected to go into the “Modern Fourth Form” but Henry would not do this as he left at Midsummer 1897.

There were 32 boys in the Shell but they were divided into Divisions A and B. Henry finished 18th of the 21 boys in Division A. His last acts at the High School before his departure were his examinations….. English (19th), French (15th), German (20th), Writing (28th), and he came tenth in Drawing. He had been promoted at last to Mathematical Set X. A figure ‘1’ after his name in the School List signifies that he was awarded a prize for Writing in 1897 and one for being the best in Shell Division A in July 1897. Given his positions, I really don’t see how that worked!

Here’s the High School in around 1896. Note Sergeant Holmes, the Drill Sergeant, and the little boy in the bottom right corner. He should be in class but has no doubt been attracted by the photographer and his assistant.

I do not know what William got up to between his final year at the High School and his leaving for a distant, exotic and exciting war in South Africa. I suppose he may have helped out at Sunrise Farm, but that seems a rather easy thing to say.

Next time, William goes to protect the British Empire from a small group of awkward Dutch farmers or possibly, gets involved in a greedy overseas war, started by rich men eager for bucketfuls (or bucketsful, possibly) of gold and diamonds.

 

12 Comments

Filed under Africa, History, military, Nottingham, Politics, The High School

Famous Adverts of Filmland (2)

Last time I talked about the American magazines which appeared in Albert Taylor’s newsagent’s shop from time to time during the early 1960s. They all had one thing in common. They had advertisements for what we all thought were rather bizarre products which were largely unobtainable in England. On the other hand, had a lorry arrived in our village, full of “Crawling Hands”, we would have been fighting each other for the chance to purchase this amazing toy for only $4.95, plus an extremely reasonable 50c for postage and handling:

Wow and double wow!! It walks across the room and the ring on the third finger sheds light over the floor. What a bargain.  I wondered how much $5.45 in 1960 might be worth today. Well, it’s between $45-$50. In English money, that’s around £34-£37. I repeat. What a bargain!

I’m not so sure about the next one though.  A whistle for dogs?

What kind of trick is that? You can’t hear it but the dog can? What rubbish. How do you know if it works?

And how will you know the dog has heard it if he is habitually disobedient? And why should he obey a whistle that you cannot hear when he can pretend he hasn’t heard it and you are none the wiser?? He’ll just carry on in the same old way and you’ve wasted your money.

This is a much better product. While my friends join the Boy Scouts, I can put on my black mask and become a member of the Judean People’s Front, or perhaps the Judean Popular People’s Front, or even the Popular Front of Judea.

What have the Romans ever done for us ? “Romanes eunt domus“:

As an adult, I can see now that the majority of the adverts appeal, for the most part, to two categories of customer. The first category is that of the person who is perhaps less intelligent, shall we say? He does not know the names of the simplest dinosaurs. He needs pictures to distinguish between a cave BEAR and a Giant BIRD, or between a GIANT WOOLLY MAMMOTH and a thirteen inch long JUNGLE SWAMP :

In the intelligent section of the magazine, however, much more technical language is used. And if you’re intelligent enough to know what a Styracosaurus is, you’ll definitely want one with a wind up motor :

It isn’t the most intelligent kind of person, though, who will pay money for an authentic fingerprint kit, but is unaware that it will be completely useless without access to the FBI fingerprint database and three years at Police College:

Other adverts just offer products for customers who want to frighten people. They want to scare the living daylights out of the last few friends they have. Perhaps they’ll do it with a monster fly:

They’d like a mask that makes them look like their movie heroes:

Or, the only full colour advert that I could find, a zombie mask:

Presumably, they will wear their mask with their eyeball cufflinks:

And what a slogan.

“NO–THEY’RE NOT REAL, BUT THEY LOOK LIKE IT !

Surely that has a future with a publicity hungry plastic surgeon. It’s certainly better than this excessively subtle 1950s ad :

I borrowed that advert from a website which boasts 39 more. Take a look. It certainly shows how attitudes towards women have altered over the years.

Or have they?

24 Comments

Filed under Criminology, Film & TV, History, Humour, My House, Personal, Science, Wildlife and Nature, Writing

Why no statue ? (1)

There has been enormous controversy of late about the fact that a good many of our old statues were erected to honour people whose lives contain some rather unpleasant details, hiding away and hopefully forgotten, or even not noticed in all the glory and the wonderfulness.

Arguably, this phenomenon may have had  its origins in England years and years ago with the controversy about Jimmy Savile, that favourite son of the BBC and of their audiences. Wikipedia says…..

“He raised an estimated £40 million for charities and, during his lifetime, was widely praised for his personal qualities and as a fund-raiser.”

But he had a very large and dirty secret…….

“After his death, hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse were made against him, leading the police to conclude that Savile had been a predatory sex offender—possibly one of Britain’s most prolific. There had been allegations during his lifetime, but they were dismissed and accusers ignored or disbelieved.”

Here’s Savile with Cardinal O’Brien, a man who, according to the Guardian newspaper at least, had “admitted in general terms to sexual conduct that had “fallen beneath the standards expected of me”.”:

So what was done?

“Within a month of the child abuse scandal emerging, many places and organisations named after or connected to Savile were renamed or had his name removed. A memorial plaque on the wall of Savile’s former home in Scarborough was removed in early October 2012 after it was defaced with graffiti. A wooden statue of Savile at Scotstoun Leisure Centre in Glasgow was also removed around the same time. Signs on a footpath in Scarborough named “Savile’s View” were removed. Savile’s Hall, the conference centre at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, was renamed “New Dock Hall.”

You can read about the two sides of this very strange and sad man here.

Here’s Savile’s Hall in Leeds. I took this picture years ago while we waited for the coach to come and pick us up. I must confess, I was attracted by young Marilyn. I’m sorry about the blurry focus but my hand was shaking:

People guilty of child abuse are a relatively easy target to identify. So are those with a background in slavery. Having “slavery” appear on your CV is not good.

And both slavery and child abuse are, of course, huge “no-no”s if you want a statue of yourself to be erected somewhere after your death.

A large number of Kings and Queens of England have been enthusiastic buyers and sellers of slaves. I have written two blog posts about this subject. Here’s a link to one, and here’s a link to the other.

The guilty parties included:

Queen Elizabeth the First, the family of King Charles II, King Charles II, King James II, Queen Anne, King George I. King George II, King George III, King George IV and King William IV.

It wasn’t just our beloved Royal Family though. It was ten of the first twelve Presidents of the United States. (Well done, John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams.) The guilty parties were George Washington (317 slaves), Thomas Jefferson (600+), James Madison (100+), James Monroe (75), Andrew Jackson (200), Martin van Buren (1), William Henry Harrison (11), John Tyler (70), James Polk, (25) and Zachary Taylor (less than 150).

Zachary Taylor was the last president-in-office to own slaves and Ulysses S. Grant was the last president to have ever owned a slave. This picture shows a president and his slaves at cotton picking time, but the internet seems a little confused about which one:

What superb irony that Thomas Jefferson won the slave owning contest with a minimum of 600 slaves.

He was the man who wrote if not the most beautiful sentence in the English language, then certainly the most important:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

In my scheme of things the people above may well lose their statues. That’s a lot of statues to take down. Slavery was not illegal in those days, but the 25-or-so people listed above would all have said they were Christians and putting it bluntly,

Jesus Christ did not keep slaves.

Just look at the expressions on these faces. Even the dogs are sad.

One major point to be made before we finish is that the descendants of slaves, in a great many countries of the world, do not want continually to be reminded of how their ancestors were mistreated in one of the great crimes of human history but instead they want to look forward to a better life. And I would be OK with that too.

What I think is that it would be a good idea to have the controversial statues put in a museum with explanations about why these previously valued men and women have been removed from public gaze. People would then have the choice of looking at them, or not.

 

19 Comments

Filed under Africa, Criminology, Film & TV, History, Politics

Famous Adverts of Filmland (1)

In our little village in the early 1960s, all of the various American magazines which appeared from time to time in Albert Taylor’s newsagent’s shop had one thing in common. They had advertisements for products which were largely unobtainable in England. I don’t know if this was in the aftermath of World War II or because of rationing, but none of the shops around where we lived had giant monster feet for sale, and neither did they have giant inflatable snakes.

If truth be told, very few of these American adverts had any relevance to our lives in a grey Midlands mining village. They showed us television programmes we could not watch. We had never seen “Land of the Giants”, still less his snake, and “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”, “Star Trek”, “Lost in Space”, all of these were still in a distant future. Well, four years or so in the future:

Furthermore, nobody I knew had the money for a film projector, still less the facilities to accommodate a “Killer Gorilla”:

Mind you, I would have been pretty happy to have received an astronaut space suit, even if no size is mentioned at any point. Just look at the blurb:

“Elastic air compression chambers run the entire length of both arms and legs and along the sides of the body. These chambers are easily inflated with any hand pump or gas station air pump through the three air hoses and air lock valves.”

Wow! Elastic air compression chambers !! And three air hoses !!!

And only a limited number available. How many’s “a limited number”? Four million?

 

Some of the things advertised you absolutely could not live without, of course. Just take a look at this radio.  And what does that mean?……..“It does not connect to any source of power”.

Beyond the usual claims, of course, the radio may even be useful during a nuclear war:

“In the event of a power failure the GERMANIUM RADIO will allow you to hear the news & civil defense broadcasts”.

Wow !!No Dirty Commie’s ever going to creep up on you.

Finally, my favourites. The first is the official make up kit, as used by Olivia de Havilland in “Gone with the Wind”:

If you follow soccer, you’ll recognise the man in the mirror as Arturo Vidal who used to play in midfield for Juventus, Bayern Munich  and FC Barcelona and has now moved on to Inter Milan.

My second favourite is a handy inflatable ten foot plastic snake:

And most of all, back to the days of the Raj with your very own pith helmet. It’s never too late to revive the British Empire:

Mind you, if you do want to revive gin and tonics on the verandah, you may want to buy one of these. A snip at the price at $19.95.

Just look at the address you have to write to, if you want a live monkey. It’s Grand Central Station, New York. I bet if you paid a little bit extra for a clever one, he’d catch the train, get off in your town and then walk round to your house.

15 Comments

Filed under Film & TV, History, Humour, Personal, Writing

“A long forgotten war, wasted young lives” (4)

Edward Archer Thurman was born on October 20th 1885. He was the younger brother of Arthur John Thurman, the Notts County footballer who had died in the Boer War at Boshof on May 30th 1900. The Boer War was fought from 1899-1902 in South Africa, fuelled by the British greed for the diamonds and gold discovered in the Boer states.

Edward’s elder brother, Arthur, though, was not killed in action. Like 23,000 others, he died of “enteric fever”, now known as typhoid.

The Thurman brothers’ father, Edward, though, turned out to be a much more difficult man to pin down. In the 1885 Directory there are two Edward Thurmans. One lived at the “White Lion” public house at 28 Hollow Stone, in the Lacemarket area of the city and the other had a chandler’s shop on Mansfield Road. In another 1885 Directory, Edward Thurman was a victualler at the White Horse in Barkergate. Or, he was a maltster in Sneinton Dale with a home in Barkergate, again in the Lacemarket.

A chandler makes or sells candles and other items such as soap. A victualler sells food, alcohol, and other beverages.

Edward Thurman junior entered the High School as Boy No 1460, on January 21st 1896, at the age of ten, and left at Midsummer 1901, along with DH Lawrence.  According to the School Register, the family was living in 6 Notintone Place in Sneinton, and the father worked as a maltster, an occupation defined as a “person whose occupation is making malt”. In actual fact, he turns grain into malt which is used to brew beer or to make whisky. His business premises were in Sneinton Dale, as the second 1885 directory stated.

Notintone Place, incidentally, was the birthplace of the founder of the Salvation Army, General William Booth:

According to the 1894-1899 Directories though, Edward Harrington Thurman lived at 26, rather than 6, Notintone Place. And yet another Edward Thurman was the manager at Gladstone Liberal Club at 20 St. Ann’s Well Road.

Like his brother, Arthur, Edward junior was an excellent footballer and played at least 32 times for the High School, scoring a minimum of 12 goals from midfield. He won his First Team Colours and the School Magazine, “The Forester”, said he was a player who “Dribbles well and passes unselfishly”.

His opponents during the 1899-1900 season were:

Lincoln Lindum Reserves (a) 0-3, Mr AG Francis’ XI (h) 3-5, Loughborough Grammar School (a) 1-2, Newark Grammar School (a) 5-2 (one goal), Mansfield Grammar School (a) 4-0, Magdala FC Second Team (a) 4-2, Mr Mayne’s XI (a) 5-2, Leicester Grammar School (a) 14-0, and Ratcliffe College (a) 4-1.

During the 1900-1901 season his opponents were

Mr AG Francis’ XI (h) 3-4, Insurance FC (h) 11-0, St Andrew’s Church Institute (h) 0-7, Mr AC Liddell’s XI (h) 1-2, Leicester Wyggeston School (h) 23-0 (three goals), Derby School (a) 8-0 (one goal), Newark Grammar School (h) 17-0 (two goals), Old Boys (h) 4-3 (one goal), Lincoln Lindum (h) 5-2, St Cuthbert’s College, Worksop (a) 2-1, Sheffield Wesley College (h) 1-4, Mr AC Liddell’s XI (h) 3-3, Mansfield Grammar School (h) 7-1 (one goal), Derby School (h) 8-1 (one goal), Loughborough Grammar School (h) 6-0 (one goal), Magdala FC (h) 0-2, Leicester Wyggeston School (a) 3-2, Magdala FC (a) 2-4, Mansfield Grammar School (a) 13-1 (one goal),University College (a) 2-3, Newark Grammar School (h) 12-0 (one goal), Nottingham Insurance FC (h) 4-2 and St Cuthbert’s College, Worksop (h) 2-0.

Edward was usually a No 7, a right winger, but he sometimes played as a No 8, an inside right. Lincoln Lindum would eventually become the professional club, Lincoln City.

In 1900-1901 Edward appeared in what was arguably the School’s best ever football team. Their record was 16 victories and two draws in 25 games with 145 goals scored and only 45 conceded.

Interestingly, in 1899-1900, Edward was in the Lower Fourth, the same form as DH Lawrence. Of the 39 boys, Lawrence finished fifth and Edward finished 36th of the 36 who sat their exams.

By now, the family had moved to No 2 Belvoir Terrace, which was in the same general area of Sneinton. By 1904 the family had returned to Castle Street. Mr and Mrs Thurman are believed to have spent their last years in Selby Lane in Keyworth.

Edward left Nottingham and went to work in Uttoxeter (always pronounced by the real locals as “Utchetter”, rather like ”Ilkeston” and “Ilson”).

He worked initially in the corn business as a clerk, although he eventually became a commercial traveller.

Despite such a good job, Edward joined up when the Great War broke out in 1914. Like his brother, Edward volunteered to preserve King, country and above all, democracy, the right to vote, enjoyed at the time by a massive 14% of the adult population. Edward was in the South Nottinghamshire Hussars and he was killed on December 3rd 1917 in Palestine. He was buried in Ramleh War Cemetery, not the only Old Nottinghamian lying there among almost six thousand casualties of war. News of Edward’s death was received in a way which is poignantly reminiscent of his brother, Arthur.

“He was for several years a member of the Uttoxeter Town Cricket Club, being popular with all who knew him. His many friends will be sorry to hear of his death.” He was 32 years old.

 

 

 

17 Comments

Filed under Football, History, military, Nottingham, The High School

What would you do ? (10) The Solution

“What would you do ?” used to figure on the cover of a boys’ comic called “Boys’ World”. This was a publication, obviously, aimed at boys, and first appeared on January 26th 1963. There were 89 issues before the comic was merged with Eagle on October 3rd 1964.

I used to buy “Boys’ World”, and this was mainly for the front cover which always featured a kind of puzzle.

It was called “What would you do ?” and was based on somebody being in what Ned Flanders would call “A dilly of a pickle”. Here’s the situation, as always, explained in the coloured box:

So, you’ve finally been promoted to Rear-Admiral in the US Navy, and you are in charge of a squadron of ships in the Pacific Ocean. It is World War Two and you have just spotted an enemy fleet on the horizon in the growing darkness. They are on their way to invade a nearby island.

You MUST attack but the Japanese fleet has greater fire-power than you have and your chances of defeating it seem slim. What orders would you give, as you sail in to attack?

And the answer is on page 2 and here it is:

So, you order your squadron to manœuvre as per the diagram on the back of my packet of cigarettes. Steaming in the dark, the Japanese suddenly found the head of their column confronted by the American squadron broadside.  The Americans were able to bring all their guns to bear, while the Japanese were only able to fire forward, with their foremost ships. Outgunned , the Japs fled.

Well, well, well. How many of you got that one correct? I know I didn’t. Certainly the most difficult one so far.

 

29 Comments

Filed under cricket, Film & TV, History, Humour, Literature, military, Pacific Theatre, Personal, the Japanese

What would you do ? (10) The Puzzle

“What would you do ?” used to figure on the cover of a boys’ comic called “Boys’ World”. This was a publication, obviously, aimed at boys and first appeared on January 26th 1963. There were 89 issues before the comic was merged with Eagle in 1964. The last issue of “Boys’ World” came out on October 3rd 1964.

This is issue No 18 which came out on May 25th 1963. This was the day that the idea of amateur and professional players in cricket was abolished—and rightly so. It was also the Saturday when Mike Myers was born:

In 1965 it was the day when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in the first round of their world heavyweight title rematch in Lewiston, Maine:

I used to buy “Boys’ World”, and this was mainly for the front cover which always featured a kind of puzzle. It was called “What would you do ?” and was based on somebody being in what Ned Flanders would call “A dilly of a pickle”. Here he is again:

And here’s this particular front cover:

The yellow box sets the scene, and the task is for you to solve the situation. This time, there’s a white circle  to worry about,which explains that the Japanese ships are in two columns.

Perhaps you might like to write your idea in the “Comments” section.

Here’s the yellow box enlarged:

And in case you are reading this box through a glass, darkly, or perhaps you are colour blind, there is some good news for you. You’ve been promoted to Rear-Admiral in the US Navy, and you are in charge of a squadron of ships in the Pacific Ocean. It is World War Two and the last rays of daylight have just lit up an enemy fleet on the horizon. They are on their way to invade a nearby island.

You know that you MUST attack but the Japanese fleet has greater fire-power than your own and your chances of defeating it in a straight fight seem slim. What orders would you give, as you sail in to attack?

And don’t cheat by asking an expert!!!

For what it’s worth, my squadron will switch all their lights off, and then join onto the two Japanese lines. Our two front ships will torpedo their back two ships. Then our next to front ships will torpedo their next to back ships, and so on, until  we have sunk the lot. Then I will be writing to the Head of the US Navy to tell him that we need more than one torpedo per boat.

 

 

24 Comments

Filed under cricket, Film & TV, History, Humour, Literature, military, Pacific Theatre, Personal, the Japanese

The Supermarine Walrus (5)

Here is the Airfix kit of the Walrus:

Assembly tended to be a rather fiddly process for an impatient young boy. I, for one, was completely unable to stick the numerous struts into the bottom wing, and then wait overnight while everything dried, so that the struts could then be lined up accurately with the holes in the top wing. If you didn’t do this, of course, you finished up with a very tricky sticky situation with an ever increasing amount of glue spreading from the top of the tube to clumsy little fingers to the flat surfaces of the wings.

And finally….

The Walrus was sometimes known as the “Steam-pigeon”, the name coming supposedly from the steam produced by water striking the hot Pegasus engine. Usually, though, its nickname was the “Shagbat”.

People ask, of course, “What is a shagbat?” Well, according to a book I found about British military aircraft, a shagbat was…

“a legendary bird, whose reputedly ever-decreasing circular flightpath had its own inevitable conclusion”.

So….. is there any other definition of a shagbat.? Well, I don’t think there is, but I can offer you a couple of twos for you to add together and produce at least fifty-five.

First of all, as a verb, “shag” is a word beloved of young men down the pub, and means “to have sex,” I tried very hard to think up some examples, but none of them were suitable, although the one about the hole in the fence was jolly funny. The Urban Dictionary expressed it very well, however:

“Used by people who think the term “making love” is too innocent and ” f**** ” is too coarse.”

And what does the “bat” bit mean? This I found in a second on-line dictionary:

“Any annoying post-menopausal woman, but especially one who applies a considerable amount of make-up….She may even scare small children with her appearance. An example would be “I try to be nice to the old bat.”:

Put the two words together and you have “shagbat”. The sort of woman you wake up with after a wild Saturday night in a small town whose name you cannot, for the moment, remember:

24 Comments

Filed under Aviation, History, Humour

The Supermarine Walrus (4)

Last time, we looked at how practically no provisions whatsoever were made in 1940 to rescue RAF fighter pilots who were forced to bale out over the sea:

“A passing ship is bound to pick them up, and pretty damn speedily at that, don’t you know, what ? what?”

During the Battle of Britain, Flight Lieutenant RF Aitken of the RNZAF was so disturbed by the death rates among his fellow fighter pilots that he actually “borrowed” a Supermarine Walrus flying boat from the Fleet Air Arm. During this period of grotesque complacency on the part of the RAF top brass, Flight Lieutenant Aitken,  despite working single handed, managed to rescue thirty five British and German flyers from The Cruel Sea during the summer of 1940.

The situation though, did not really improve. Twelve hundred British airmen went “into the drink” between February 1941-August 1941. Of these 444 were picked up by the British. 78 were picked up by the German Seenotdienst and 678 were not picked up by anybody whatsoever and they all died. Every single one. It was lucky that their training cost so little.

At official levels, it was only on August 22nd 1940 that an emergency meeting was held under the chairmanship of Air Marshal Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris to explore the shortcomings of air sea rescue provision.

And thus, from September 1941 onwards, the Air Sea Rescue Directorate became functional and gradually the RAF began to use the Supermarine Walrus more widely from coastal land bases as an Air Sea Rescue aircraft.

By the end of the war things had improved out of all recognition. The RAF now possessed not eighteen but 600 high speed rescue launches and numerous squadrons of specialist aircraft.

Even so, results were nowhere near 100%.

Many crews did not ever rescue anybody in all their years looking for stranded airmen. Some never found even a single dinghy. Worse still, some only ever found empty dinghies.

Some crews only ever found corpses, men frozen stiff with the cold, dead from exposure or any of the other conditions likely to occur in a dinghy which, for some reason best known to the top brass, did not have a covering of any kind and was completely open to the elements.

Old Nottinghamian, John Harold Gilbert Walker (1918-1942), died in this dreadful way. He was shot down in his Spitfire over St Omer, and four days later, the dinghy and his lifeless body were found, a mere eight miles south of Dungeness. John was only twenty three years of age and he had died of exposure waiting in vain to be rescued.

John’s remains were returned to his family in Nottingham and he was interred in the cemetery of St Leonard’s Church in Wollaton on May 19th 1942. If you’re ever out that way, go and put a few flowers on his grave.

31 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, History