A pilot at the Battle of Britain Memorial. See below...
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A Personal Note (Archive)
September 18, 2016
Battle of Britain Day, 15th September, commemorates the most intense day in the aerial battle over Britain in the summer of 1940. A memorial to pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain has been built at Capel le Ferne near Folkestone in Kent, an area where a great deal of heavy fighting took place in the skies overhead. There is a visitors’ centre, a Spitfire and a Hurricane aircraft, a flag mast which stood at Biggin Hill airfield during the battle, and the memorial itself, which consists of a huge representation of a propeller laid out in the grass, with a statue of a young pilot in the middle looking out to sea. I found walking around the memorial a moving experience. The pilot looks reflective and peaceful, as though it’s all over now and he can sit back and think about the past. There is also a sense, however, that he is still watching the sky for enemy aircraft. He is in full flight kit, ready to go. If the call came he would jump up and run to the Spitfire parked outside the visitors’ centre where people are having cups of tea. This is a thoughtful memorial, fittingly reflective, with an immediacy which suggests the atmosphere of those months in the summer of 1940. The memorial is one of tranquility, and yet there is still a feeling that any moment now…
The overriding impression, however, is the peaceful one. Some people, I fear, now scan the skies for illusory enemies. It is useful to reiterate following Battle of Britain day, that many of the pilots who flew with the RAF in 1940 were Europeans. It is shameful that Poles find themselves the victims of attacks since the European referendum, when Polish pilots played a vital role in helping win the battle. There might not have been a Britain to take a vote on European membership if it hadn’t been for Polish, Czech, Belgian and French pilots. We assume the pilot sitting at Capel le Ferne is British, when actually he could be Polish. We should remember that.
Historical news for September
The Autumn Equinox, known as Mabon, was a key point in the Anglo Saxon calendar. To mark this moment in the year, Time Team's Dr Sam Newton will give a talk as the sun goes down over the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. Event takes place on 25th September. For more information go to https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/0f00f480-d6f3-4585-843d-1f5f19b5a553/pages/details
This year is the 300th anniversary of the birth of landscape gardener Capability Brown. The National Trust is celebrating this with events at many of its properties across the country. For more information go to http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/events-to-celebrate-the-300th-anniversary-of-capability-brown
Anniversaries for September
12th September 490 BC: The Battle of Marathon takes place, during which the citizens of Athens and their allies defeat an invading Persian force. The battle is best known for the historically questionable legend of a messenger who ran back to Athens to give news of the victory.
17th September 1939: The aircraft carrier HMS Courageous is sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland. Courageous was the first Royal Navy ship lost to enemy action during the Second World War.
18th September 1714: England's first Hanoverian king, George I arrives in London, after becoming king on August 1st. During his reign Britain would begin its transition to cabinet government led by a prime minister.
19th September 1879: The Blackpool Illuminations are switched on for the first time. The illuminations in 1879 consisted of just twelve arc lamps, shining on the promenade.
20th September 1906: The liner Mauretania is launched. During 1909 Mauretania would break the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic, and would hold the record for twenty years. The ship was scrapped in 1935. The ship's bell survives, and can be seen in the reception area at Lloyds Registry of Shipping. The letter E from her name can be seen at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle.
21st September 1937: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is first published, by Unwin Press with a print run of 1500 copies. If you have a copy from that initial print run it could now be worth up to £20,000. Estimated global sales for The Hobbit since 1937 range between 35 and 100 million copies.
A preview of my novel - about a girl who discovers that surprisingly she can't find her way to the sort of secret world found in story books. So she searches for an alternative.
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Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, Derick Fusco, Julian Jones, Richard Jones, Jackie Lewis, Debbie Lowless, Judy Mills of the Corinium Museum, Jane Barron of the World Rugby Museum, and Susan Stuart of Old Spitalfields Market.