As you may have seen from previous blog posts, in 2010, I went with my family to the RAF Museum at Hendon. I did a whole series of articles, all of them based around one particularly iconic aircraft. In this case it is the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter which you can read about here:
If you want to read about any of the other aircraft, it would be easiest to search the whole blog for them. They were the Avro Lancaster, the Bristol Beaufighter, the Bristol Beaufort, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, the Gloster Meteor, the de Havilland Mosquito, the P-51 Mustang, the Short Sunderland, the Supermarine Southampton and the Supermarine Walrus.
It wasn’t all aircraft at Hendon, though. There were lots of identified non-flying objects and various pieces of metal rescued from aircraft as they awaited their turn in the scrapyard.
The famous German battleship, the Tirpitz, provided a battle flag:
There is also a decorated metal door from the ship’s interior. The ship itself was sunk on November 12th 1944 with the loss of up to 1204 sailors’ lives:
Here are the medals of Herman Goering the man in charge of Hitler’s Luftwaffe. As with many objects of this type, they are kept under glass and difficult, if not impossible, to photograph without reflections being included:
Here is the wall of an RAF hut, taken down carefully to preserve the artwork left on it by an anonymous artist. It shows a Short Stirling, the RAF’s first four engine bomber:
The particular aircraft in the picture is a Short Stirling Mark III of 199 Squadron based at North Creake in Norfolk. Its squadron letters were EX–N and its serial number was LJ531 and its name was “N-Nan”. At 2219 hours on June 16th 1944, the crew took off to accompany 162 Halifaxes, 147 Lancasters and 12 Mosquitoes on a bombing mission which targeted the synthetic oil plant at Sterkrade between Duisburg and Essen. They carried no bombs, but instead were to use their Mandrel, a noise jammer, to overwhelm the signals from the German Freya and Würzburg radar sets. Between them, nine such aircraft were capable of creating a 200 mile gap in the Germans’ radar coverage.
In the official records, the aircraft was “lost without trace” but modern sources on the internet suggest that it was shot down by Unteroffizier Josef Ottrin (Bordfunker/radar operator) to Feldwebel Trenke, of the 6./KG 51, some fifty miles north of Ostend. This incident took place at 02.00 hours at an altitude of 14,800 feet. They had taken off from Soesterberg in the Netherlands in a Messerschmitt Me 410 A-1/U2 to carry out an armed reconnaissance of London, probably to find targets for the new wonder weapons, the V-1 and the V-2.
All the crew of “N-Nan”were killed. They were:
Thomas Wilson Dale RNZAF (pilot, aged 25), the son of James Murray Dale and Maude Mary Dale of Wellington, New Zealand.
John Martin Watts (flight engineer, aged 19), the son of John and Ethel Rosetta Watts, of Caxton, Cambridgeshire.
Ronald Joffre Whittleston RNZAF, (navigator, aged 28), the son of Arthur William and Grace Whittleston and the husband of Frances Hellena Bertha Whittleston, of Frankton Junction, Auckland, New Zealand.
Kenneth Matthew Francis Swadling, (bomb aimer, aged 28), the son of Frank and Louise Marie Swadling, of Wembley Hill, Middlesex.
Francis Charles Brittain, (gunner, aged 21), the son of Charles Frederick and Hazel Margaret Brittain, of Kilburn, Middlesex.
Frank Lofthouse, (Mandrel specialist operator, aged 23), the son of Albert and Miriam Lofthouse, of Lupset, Yorkshire
John Critchley Higginbottom, (gunner, aged 21), the son of John Elliott Higginbottom and Lilian Jessie Higginbottom, of Streatham Hill, London.
William McCreadie Latimer, (gunner, aged 19) the son of George C. Latimer and Mary Latimer, of Garlieston, Wigtownshire in Scotland
Also on display at RAF Hendon are the medals won by Guy Gibson, the Squadron Leader of 617 Squadron at the time of the famous Dambusters raid. On the left is the highest British award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross. The usual price at auction for this famous medal is usually around £500,000-£700,000. Guy Gibson’s personal medal, though, would be worth many millions.
And here’s the insignia on the collar of his dog, a big Black Labrador, which was run over and killed by a mystery car at the exact same moment as Gibson was leading the squadron in the attack om the Möhne dam.
The lettering reads:
His dog was buried at RAF Scampton and here is his grave today: