Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Stormy Dunbar Photos



photo by Billy Main

Hullo ma wee blog,

Following on from this mornings post about the weather, here's a link to some photos of the effects of the storm on Dunbar from local photographer Billy Main. These ones are taken yesterday.

see you later.

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb........



That's what they say about March normally anyway.......

Hullo ma wee blog,

This mornings trip to Dunbar for the lovely G's train to work started earlier than normal, planned after last nights storm delayed return from work, taking into consideration the flooding already becoming problematic on the A1 past Torness power station at 7pm on the road home.

I listened to the hooligan wind screaming around the house last night from the warmth of bed thinking that I couldn't remember worse in the 8 years we have been here. I woke several times across the night yet wasn't tempted to follow my nocturnal habit, to head for the kitchen and night time comfort of coffee and blogging, happy for once to stay comfortably imprisoned by the several hundred banshees at the window and their howled demands to be let in. The wind kept me awake as the house creaked and groaned in her fight to keep us sheltered and my thoughts were swept in many directions but always, always came back to shrieking Mother Nature angrily demanding my attention. Jess, determinedly shouldered deeper into the duvet at our sides as she found her own ways of communing with sleep. Easy for a cat. The lovely G slept easily too. {I have often thought she may be part cat herself}. Eventually, as she does, sleep quietly claimed me and took me through to an early rise.

It was clear that things hadn't changed for the better as I peered out at the dark and the gloom this morning. Mother Nature still in angry voice, the trees in the garden shaking hard to loosen night from their shoulders, rain beating against the front of the house and, barely seen across the garden and drive, our enormous hedge swaying and twisting in the melee like some wild, threatening wall of malevolence straining to break free of the earth and launch itself in a suicidal charge at the house. I shuddered and made an unusual-for-me plan to head back to bed after the trip to the station, to seek comfort and solace in warmth for an hour or so. After all, I don't intend to spend much time out in that if I can avoid it.

By the time we were ready to leave for our journey, inky dark had turned hard grey, the added light doing nothing to make the scene beyond the window pane any more inviting. Suitably bundled in protective clothing we made eyes at each other as I opened the door and we stepped out to drive and car, immediately assaulted by a face full of wind and rain that stung and took the breath away, sharp intake of icy cold and a wince at stinging cheeks, loud exclamations as we slammed car doors shut against the reality of the day.

We ploughed through the flooded bottom of the drive and emerged onto the rain and wind scoured road, were blown up the hill and out of the village, the sea barely discernible from my favourite viewpoint on the crest of the hill. The car was being buffeted like I have never felt before. You see programmes on extreme weather on TV and this could have had its own slot. The A1, as we joined it, was eerily quiet and I immediately thought that a mile or so ahead we would be faced with blue lights and barricades closing off the section of the road most prone to flooding by muddy water off the fields on either side of the road, as it sometimes is, but surprisingly as I coaxed the car on we met nothing like that. The road which I fully expected to be 'hoodlum' with water was difficult for sure, but passable with care, the road in that section thankfully sheltered from the worst of the wind. The car continued to be pounded by wind and water as we drove on and at times I thought I was actually in a boat, the way the car was pitching. I have never driven in conditions like we met on the most exposed mile or two along the coast, and found myself thinking of lorry drivers until I looked at the sea in the increasing light. It was literally almost indescribable in its violence and seeming intention to wipe the land from its face. Normally this is a placid coast, but sea anywhere can be vicious at times. I thought I had seen all its faces until this morning. It was truly frightening and I uttered an ' Oh my God' to the lovely G beside me and turned my thoughts to any out at sea in that terrible storm and for the lifeboatmen who are a treasured part of our communities hereabouts.

The radio told of countrywide storms, lorries jack-knifed and overturned, multiple accidents, roads closed through flood and fallen trees, of snow so heavy that power lines had come down across Northern Ireland as we carried carefully on our way through roads unusually quiet of traffic, our headlights probing the gloom to show sparkling rain blown horizontally across our path or crashingly head on into the windscreen. A morning of biblical proportion. I dropped G off at the station to find cancelled trains replaced by emergency bus services which would considerably lengthen her journey to work. Despite an offer to drive her on to Edinburgh I was dispatched homeward with a kiss and a 'thanks for getting me here'. A stop for my morning 'Hootsman' newspaper saw me bent almost double in the wind tunnel of Dunbar main street, battered by rain between shop and car. The return journey as eventful as before with the wind at my back occasionally threatening to jolt me into oncoming traffic, or so it seemed, until I turned once more up the drive to the house and its comfortable warmth and companionable cat sitting patiently at the french doors looking askance at the lack of birdlife so necessary for a felines perfect contemplation of day.

As I stepped from the car I lowered my head against the wind for the few steps to sanctuary and received a final benediction of driven rain turned sleet on the top of my head.

March......

In like a lamb and out like a lion more like.......

So much for day four of 'British summer time'
Brrrr!!

See you later.

Listening to - the kettle boil so I can thaw out.

Monday Night Is Music Night


Hullo ma wee blog,

Monday night saw the latest live gig, Amy Macdonald at the HMV Picture House in Edinburgh, a complete sell out. We got there early as I met the lovely G from work and we had a lght dinner at the cafe in 'The Filmhouse' just across the road. Then, as usual, G insisted we get in the queue early to make sure we had a good slot for the show. As it turns out - again, as usual - she was right and we ended up in the front row of the balcony, dead center with the perfect view at this small venue.

Support was Jersey Budd, singer songwriter, and very good he and his band were too. Echoes of 'Oasis' and 'The Verve' with a twist of 'Stereophonics'



The roadies were very efficient and the support act cleared and Amy set up in less than half an hour.

Onstage by 9pm, she was in good voice and in great form for a lengthy session covering off her last two albums in their entirety.

A great show, great crowd and great venue. Couldn't ask for much more from my late birthday present. She's a great little entertainer, writes her own material and gives a powerhouse performance. She's got an engaging style, some fabulous lyrics and can come up with some unforgettable tunes. I have wanted to see her live since I heard her on the radio for the first time and it was such a great concert. Amazing.

2 hours over all too soon and then time to hit the road to home.



Cant wait till Thursday and Chris Rea.

Never too much live music in your life!!!

see you later.

Listening to Chris Rea 'Stainsby Girls'

Saturday, 27 March 2010

153 Sqn. 27th March 1945 - Paderborn


low level bombing.

These posts follow Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time. My father served in this squadron.

For 153 Sqn, the final operation of the month took place on 27th March when 14 aircraft were sent to Paderborn. (There should have been 15 but RF 205(P4-2ndW), on its first operation, lost an engine on take off and had to abort after jettisoning its load). There was little opposition from either air or ground forces but dense cloud necessitated bombing only on sky markers.

During the Third Reich the town was used as a military loading station, and the railway station shows signs of this - there are facilities for loading military vehicles onto trains which are still regularly used by the British and German armies. The Catholic order of the Salvatorians, who were based in the still-standing Heilandsfrieden House, was disbanded and driven out of nearby Sennelager by the Nazis in 1941, and were forbidden to settle anywhere in Westphalia or in the Rhineland.

At the end of World War II, the historic military base passed first briefly into the administration of the United States Army, before a more long-term handover to the British who retain control to this day, using the area as a training facility.
Currently some 10,000 British citizens live in the area, members of the armed forces stationed there, or as dependants.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Crime of the Century...........


Hullo ma wee blog,

Supertramps 1974 album 'Crime of the Century'. For me, one of those seminal albums that perfectly framed a moment in time and space. Without a weak track on its playlist, it was a big part of me at that defining time in adolescence when music takes you away from childhood and points to greater things; a better understanding; a bigger world; departure from what is comfortable, known and safe into other possibilities and realities.

Deep stuff, but music does that when you're only fifteen and hormones and angst compete equally fervently for your attention. It made deep impressions and this album means a lot to me. Over the years I've spent lots of time in its company, often with earphones on, lights off and laid out horizontal on floor or bed. Usually its been at ear crushing volume, blocking out an outside world so I could lose myself in music and lyric, so I could think and come to terms with some problem or worry about who I was or where I might be going.

With that kind of connection it's not surprising then that I turn to its familiar comfort when things sometimes disturb my equilibrium, shake my world view or just really T me off.



I shook hands with it once again the other day coming home from stepping in to cover a colleague at a Childrens Hearing session he couldn't cover.

Prepping yourself familiar with the cases via social work background and school reports gives you a handle on the complexities of a case but you know you have something unusually chaotic when the family is accompanied by two big burly specimens of Her Majesties Lothian and Borders Constabulary who are there to protect the social work representative and the panel members.

No matter at the end of a case when right decisions have been made to secure and keep safe a child of only a few months, it stays with you how unjust life is to some children who are denied the birthright of a loving, nurturing family and who have to be protected against parents who not only consistently fail to put that completely vulnerable wee life's needs before their own selfish desires, but absolutely deny any responsibility or wrong doing as they do it and then scream the place down for THEIR human rights when someone steps in and does something about protecting the best interests of the child. For me that's the real crime of the century.

Bringing up a child is one of the most incredible responsibilities of life, bringing joy, fulfilment and fear in equal measures. Most people manage to do it incredibly well. Some don't. Some need help. Some need a kick in the arse. Some, perhaps should be prevented from being parents in the first place if they can't take simple, honest advice and offers of support.

I don't know what it's like to struggle to raise a family well, to lie awake and worry about making the right choices and to provide the best you can for your children. I don't have any.

I don't really know what it's like to be a parent, but I do know what it's like not to be.

On balance I think that helps sometimes.

see you later.

listening to The Cars 'Drive'

Thursday, 25 March 2010

153 Sqn. March 24th 1945 - Dortmund./Bottrop


A Lancaster departing for  an operation is waved off by WAAF and ground crews.

These posts follow 153 Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time. My father served in this squadron.

On March 24th British Airborne and ground forces successfully crossed the Rhine at Wesel. Meanwhile, the Americans were gradually encircling and isolating the Ruhr, where the defenders remained obstinate and defiant. To soften their resistance and to further deny their resources, a force was sent to attack the Benzoil plant at Harpenerweg - a suburb of Dortmund - also the Mathias Stinnes plant at Bottrop. The Squadron despatched 10 aircraft, who flew without escort but saw no enemy fighters despite clear weather all the way (both sides were doubtless fully engaged supporting or attacking the Rhine crossing). The marker flares were a bit short, so the Master Bomber instructed crews to overshoot them. A very accurate and concentrated attack then ensued although S/Ldr Rippingale had to return prematurely due once again to failure with 'smokey joe', the port inner engine on LM 754(P4-E).

This raid saw a remarkable exploit by F/Lt Whizz Wheeler and crew flying in ME 541(P4-3rdA). After bombing they set a course to take them over the town of Hagen and Whizz remarked to his Navigator "some of the others are going off to port. Are we OK?" Feeling his competence was in question, Freddie Fish huffily replied "they're off track, we are dead on track". Absolutely and unfortunately right - for at that same moment, sitting out on their own, they were hit hard by predicted flak. Both inner engines were set afire and the starboard petrol tank was holed, causing petrol to stream back over the wing (had the flame reached the petrol a catastrophic explosion would have occurred and all would have been lost). Immediately both engines were switched off, fire extinguishers operated, and despite the loss of the starboard inner engine constant speed unit, both propellers were feathered.(i.e. blades turned edge-on, to minimise drag) To dowse the fires, Whizz put the aircraft into a steep 8,000-foot dive, levelling off at 12,000 feet. This proved successful, so they collectively took stock.



They had lost, and were still losing, a lot of petrol; they had no hydraulic power; (needed to lower the flaps and wheels) the throttle controls and many of the instruments were damaged. No way could they get all the way back to base under their own steam. They still had two engines working, and although they had insufficient power to maintain height, they had a little in hand. They therefore needed to land somewhere in Europe. All navigators constantly received sheets of information concerning emergency landing facilities, navigational beacons, etc. to such a degree that they could not bother to read them. Fortunately, Freddie would - and even carried them on operations. He quickly gave Whizz a course for Eindhoven, about 60 miles Northwest in liberated Holland, which provided a 24-hour 'Darky' (emergency) system and three usable runways. However, 'Darky' response advised Whizz that due to enemy attack only 500 yards of runway was available. His situation was clearly critical.

He had an emergency compressed air system sufficient to lower flaps and fuel and power to reach the airfield, but insufficient to enable him to climb for a second try if he did not land at the first attempt. Visibility was very poor so Whizz asked for a guiding red Verey flare. This appeared on his starboard side just as he was lining up to land on the parallel autobahn! He managed a flat skid turn to enable him to approach the runway, just above stalling speed, narrowly avoiding the control wagon (Whizz distinctly recalled the startled look on the duty erk's face as the wheels just cleared the caravan). They were down, and thankfully able to pull up short of the craters ahead.

During the approach, apart from his F/E, the crew had taken up crash stations. To see what was going on the W/Op somewhat stupidly jettisoned his escape hatch and stuck his head out. The slipstream caught under his helmet and, but for
prompt anchoring action by Freddie, he would have been sucked out. His predicament caused great laughter among the rest, but it was overheard on the intercom by Whizz who, trying desperately hard to cope in a frightening situation, did not appreciate the joke at the time.

After a night at Eindhoven, they were ferried in a Dakota back to Down Ampney, Glos, and subsequently provided with transport back to Scampton. ME 541(P4-3rdA) was in such a sorry state that it was classified damaged beyond repair.

There were no recorded squadron losses on this raid.

The Gorbals Vampire.....


Glasgow Necropolis Graveyard.

Hullo ma wee blog,

This caught my eye in the BBC news pages today. I thought it was interesting given the current teenage trend for vampires in film and TV and on bookshelves.

Content from BBC.

Child vampire hunters sparked comic crackdown

By Stuart Nicolson
BBC Scotland News


When PC Alex Deeprose was called to Glasgow's sprawling Southern Necropolis on the evening of 23 September 1954, he expected to be dealing with a simple case of vandalism.

But the bizarre sight that awaited him was to make headlines around the world and cause a moral panic that led to the introduction of strict new censorship laws in the UK.

Hundreds of children aged from four to 14, some of them armed with knives and sharpened sticks, were patrolling inside the historic graveyard.

They were, they told the bemused constable, hunting a 7ft tall vampire with iron teeth who had already kidnapped and eaten two local boys.

Fear of the so-called Gorbals Vampire had spread to many of their parents, who begged PC Deeprose for assurances there was no truth to the rumours.

Newspapers at the time reported that the headmaster of a nearby primary school told everyone present that the tale was ridiculous, and police were finally able to disperse the crowd.

But the armed mob of child vampire hunters was to return immediately after sunset the following night, and the night after that.

Urban myth

Ronnie Sanderson, who was an eight-year-old schoolboy in the Gorbals area of the city when the vampire scare was at its height, described how Chinese whispers in the schoolyard escalated into full-blown panic.

He recalled: "It all started in the playground - the word was there was a vampire and everyone was going to head out there after school.

"At three o'clock the school emptied and everyone made a beeline for it. We sat there for ages on the wall waiting and waiting. I wouldn't go in because it was a bit scary for me.


Ronnie Sanderson and Tam Smith joined the vampire hunters
"I think somebody saw someone wandering about and the cry went up: 'There's the vampire!'

"That was it - that was the word to get off that wall quick and get away from it.

"I just remember scampering home to my mother: 'What's the matter with you?' 'I've seen a vampire!' and I got a clout round the ear for my trouble. I didn't really know what a vampire was."

There were no records of any missing children in Glasgow at the time, and media reports of the incident began to search for the origins of the urban myth that had gripped the city.

The blame was quickly laid at the door of American comic books with chilling titles such as Tales From The Crypt and The Vault of Horror, whose graphic images of terrifying monsters were becoming increasingly popular among Scottish youngsters.

Corrupt comics

These comics, so the theory went, were corrupting the imaginations of children and inflaming them with fear of the unknown.

A few dissenting academics pointed out there was no mention of a creature matching the description of the Gorbals Vampire in any of these comics.

There was, however, a monster with iron teeth in the Bible (Daniel 7.7) and in a poem taught in local schools.


The Southern Necropolis provided the perfect setting for a vampire story
But their voices were drowned out in the media and political frenzy that was by now demanding action to be taken to prevent even more young minds from being "polluted" by the "terrifying and corrupt" comic books.

The government responded to the clamour by introducing the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955 which, for the first time, specifically banned the sale of magazines and comics portraying "incidents of a repulsive or horrible nature" to minors.

Another of those who had gathered at the graveyard as a child, Tam Smith, said the Necropolis provided the perfect stage for a vampire story to take root, with the noise and light from the nearby ironworks casting spooky shadows across the graves in which some 250,000 Glaswegians had been laid to rest.

Mr Smith said it had been common for naughty children in the area to be threatened with the Iron Man - a local equivalent of the Bogeyman - by their exasperated parents.

Neither Mr Smith or Mr Sanderson had televisions in their homes at the time, and neither had ever seen a horror movie or read a horror comic.

Comic book expert Barry Forshaw said getting their hands on one of the underground American horror comics had been like finding the Holy Grail for schoolyards of British children reared on the squeaky clean fare found every week inside the Beano and Dandy - both of which are produced in Scotland.

The story of the Gorbals Vampire had been a gift to the unlikely alliance of teachers, communists and Christians who had their own individual reasons for crusading against the corrupting influence of American comics, he said.

Mr Forshaw added: "It was a perfect fit. Here was a campaign that was looking for things to justify itself, and then this event happens.

"It is ironic that the moral furore began in Scotland, where the comics could not have been more safe."

The Gorbals Vampire will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 2300 GMT on Tuesday 30 March, and will be available on BBC iPlayer within uk only.

see you later.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Art of Boys.........

Hullo ma wee blog,

Insomnia and random thoughts....

If they were alive today would famous painters perhaps use price comparison sites to advertise their wares?


The Girl with a Pearl Earring: Compare The Vermeerkat.com?



The Impressionists: monet supermarket.com


Vincent, painter of Sunflowers: Gogh Compare.?




Max Ernst and Salvador Dali: Confused.com?

Um.......

Probably not,...........

Made me think though.



see you later

Listening to U2 'Unforgettable fire'

Sunday, 21 March 2010

153 Sqn. 21st March 1945 - Hildesheim


These posts follow 153 Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time.

On 22nd March, at around breakfast time, 15 aircraft took off to attack the rail junction and marshalling yard at Hildesheim, which lies some 20 miles south-east of Hanover. 227 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups took part in the raid and 4 Lancasters were lost. Although the target was the railway yards, the surrounding built-up areas also suffered severely in what was virtually an area attack. This was the only major Bomber Command raid of the war on Hildesheim and the post-war British survey found that 263 acres, 70 per cent of the town, had been destroyed.

S/Ldr Gee relates how their route lay over the Ruhr area where, not surprisingly, they came under heavy A/A fire, to the extent that "the smoke and explosions of the shells bursting could be smelled and heard clearly". Six aircraft were hit, but all survived to bomb their target and return to base. Given a strong long-range fighter escort and in clear visibility the force was able to drop accurately without distraction.

Aftermath.

About 1,500 civilians were killed in the attack, of which about 500 could not be identified

After the end of the war townspeople were suffering terribly, 34,000 of the cities population had remained homeless, like in many cities preference was given to quickly build housing, and concrete structures took the place of the destroyed buildings. Fortunately, the churches, two of them now UNESCO World Heritage Sites, were rebuilt soon after the war. During the war, the valuable world heritage historic material had been hidden in the basement of the city wall.

In the 1980s, the historic market place of Hildesheim, which had been destroyed in 1945 as well, was reconstructed in the authentic style using old photos and construction plans. From 2000 on, the Altstadtgilde, a private association dedicated to the embellishment of the city, started collecting funds to reconstruct the Upended Sugarloaf and bought the piece of land where the building had stood before the war. Many inhabitants donated money for the project, as the Altstadtgilde intended to give the building to the City of Hildesheim as a present. The City Council, however, hesitated a long time before accepting the present, but finally the building permit was granted on 4 February 2009.



The reconstruction using 60 cubic meters of oak wood and 728 wooden pegs was started on 27 October 2009. Many inhabitants of Hildesheim provided old photos and drawings for the project, as the original construction plans were not preserved. The construction of the foundation was completed on 9 November 2009 and the Roofing Ceremony was held on 3 February 2010. The building is to be inaugurated on 22 March 2010, exactly 65 years after the destruction. The Upended Sugarloaf will be used as a café afterwards. The Association Altstadtgilde as building sponsor estimates that the total costs of the reconstruction will amount to € 1,500,000.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Gregory's Girl shaped my life..........



Hullo ma wee blog,

This post is triggered by a couple of linked incidents.

Last night I went to Dunbar to pick up my lovely G from an after work Friday night drink with some of her colleagues in Edinburgh. As I started on the 8 mile journey a programme came on the radio about Brass Bands and, as I played in one for over twenty years, I became engrossed listening to the music and lost in nostalgia for happy memories of times past. On picking G up and turning for home, the programme continued until a piece came on that stirred very definite memories as it was a piece I had played with my old school band as a solo.

It also eerily echoed a recent comment I had made on a blog I follow. 'Dad on a Bike' is a seriously good blog recording the delights of watching your children grow and experience life. It's written by Dad, who is also a teacher at the school where his children, the heart of the blog, attend. He recently wrote of an incident where his son experienced almost debilitating fear on performing in the school choir. The post struck such a chord that I had to comment on it - you know me, never shy to stick an oar in - and he responded by contacting me to say that he hadn't published my comment as he thought it might make a decent post in itself for my blog. { To be more precise, to be the opening post on another blog I have listed on my profile - 'The Porage Diaries' - which I have set up in case I want to post anything in another style or something like that. I had no idea really when I did it but it seemed like a good idea at the time}

Anyway, 'meanwhile back at the ranch' as they used to say to get things back on track...

While exuberantly confident as a small child, my fears/insecurity/lack of confidence came to the fore later in my early teens when I found myself in the large secondary school environment, away from the security of a small village school. On the surface I was happy, confident and self contained enough, but just under the skin was all the insecurity of any normal adolescent coping with growing, zits, fashion sense {lack of} and - sharp intake of breath - the opposite sex. Playing in the school brass band it was also, in one highly significantly way, musically based.

Although a proficient performer - I played solo horn in the school band and we were Scottish champions for 5 out of the 6 years I was at school - I was at my best sat anonymously within the band. I could play any solo part you'd like from there but I didn't want to be in the spotlight with my awkward coordination, poor dress sense, permanently greasy hair and highly reflective skin. My bete noir was the very thought of being the featured solo performance of a concert. Many kids, many of my fellow band members, could take center stage and not be phased in the least, they could revel in the spotlight and in displaying their talent to the audience. The very thought of it made me feel faint with fear. Not that I never thought of it, the admiration, the kudos, the ability to be someone or something else, but I was constricted by an overwhelming sense of fear. Pretty normal I imagine. Our brilliant bandmaster, Mr Johnston, later to be Mr Hugh Johnston MBE, known to us affectionately and with his approval as 'Hughie', although never in front of senior teaching staff, was convinced the way to overcome my fear, and to release me to be a better, stronger human being, was simply to face it, get it over with, so in time I would come to enjoy it. I was after all, one of the founding half dozen band members and the last of that group to take to the front and 'do the business'. So, after much cajoling and practice he managed to persuade me, hot, flushed and palpitating with fear, to the front of the band for a concert to face my beast. My moment had come.

To this day I can't remember much about the actual performance, {probably just as well} but I will always remember returning to my seat in the band after what seemed like a lifetime, applause from the audience ringing in my ears, my band members around me, instruments on laps, beaming, smiling, laughing and clapping, a hearty pat on the back freshly delivered by Hughie as I passed him to sit back in my place beside the stunningly beautiful K, with whom I was very much infatuated {unrequited} and who's fragrant and shapely person {and personality} was one of those definitive experiences of adolescence. I was constantly and achingly conscious of her every move beside me, every intake of breath and every beautiful tone and phrase that came from her flugel horn.

Feeling six feet tall I sat down with the applause all around. I saw a brighter future ahead. A me, confident, able, with unlimited potential. From a boy to a man in less than four minutes. Incredible. What had I been worried about for goodness sake? Hadn't that been just the best thing ever? I felt absolutely marvellous as 'she' shyly, adoringly, watched me walk back to take my seat, my rightful place, beside her. Things had changed. Things would be different now. I looked confidently at her, she smiled back, leaned towards me, so close her hair touched mine, the warmth of her crashing over my hugely heightened senses, held me with those wonderful eyes and said breathlessly,

"That was fantastic!."

Two doves of perfect white burst from my heart and chased each other heavenwards as I sent a heartfelt " Thank you, God" after them and watched a happy life stretch out before us.

"I could see your legs shaking from here!"

Queue muffled explosion........

Feathers tumbled past my eyes.......

Ah bugger!!!

see you later.

listening to Bob Marley, 'Redemption Song'

Friday, 19 March 2010

Fun with the camera....

Hullo ma wee blog,

Some photos taken today while trying to get familiar with a new lens. Some birds and the spires of Dunbar Kirk. Its been breezy but warm and I needed to blow the cobwebs out.

















Thursday, 18 March 2010

153 Sqn. 17th/18th March 1945 - Nuremburg/Hannau



My Dad, who died last year, spent his WWII active service as a tail gunner in RAF Bomber Command flying in Lancasters in 153 squadron. These posts follow Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time.

For the what would turn out to be the last heavy bomber raid against Nuremberg on March 17th, the Squadron was able to contribute 10 aircraft. Extensive low cloud cover extended for much of the route, but this cleared at the target, allowing an extremely devastating attack to develop resulting in major fires in the Steinbuhl district and the complete obliteration of the city's gasworks. Conditions favoured the defenders and German night-fighters found the bomber stream on its way to the target, and shot down 24 Lancasters (10.4% of the total No1 Bomber Group force) including PB 642(P4-W) which had been grounded just before takeoff on the previous mission due to engine failure, being flown by P/O Peter Parsons and crew on their first operation. Total Lancasters lost that nights two raids was 31.

Airborne 1720 16 Mar '45 from Scampton. All are buried in the Durnbach War Cemetery. Their average age was twenty-two. P/O P.J.Parsons KIA F/S J.K.Finlayson KIA Sgt S.D.Wager KIA Sgt A.R.Quinton KIA F/S M.Swap KIA Sgt E.Finch KIA Sgt W.S.Keenleyside KIA "



Nuremberg was a showpiece creation of the Nazi regime and therefore heavily defended. As a result during the raid, as usual at this target, flak was intense and heavy.

HOME ON A WING AND A PRAYER.

On the run-up to the target, Sgt Dave Broughton, F/Eng in NK 556(P4-3rdJ) was seated on the de-icing tank in the nose step dispensing 'window' whilst the Bomb-aimer was doing his job, when the skipper, F/O Joe Sharp announced that the S/O engine was on fire. Dave returned to his seat to find that although the engine instruments showed no indication of trouble, flames reached back to the tail plane. He feathered the engine and, since the flame gradually diminished, he did not activate the extinguisher which would have rendered the engine inoperable until after repair. (thereby preserving the engine for possible restart). Once the bombs were dropped on target they set course for base, but worryingly, considering the fierce activity of night fighters on route to target, constantly lost ground on the mainstream whilst Dave watched his dials and balanced the fuel tanks. On landing gratefully back at Scampton it was found that a number of incendiaries had landed on them, one of which had lodged next to the starboard outer engine self-sealing oil tank, luckily missing all fuel lines and controls but burning several holes through the bottom cowling. The engine was undamaged!

An incredibly lucky escape......



On March 18th, Hannau was attacked at the unusual hour of 4.30am, leaving the main industrial area ablaze. It was a textbook operation with no losses or exceptional circumstances reported.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Insomnia Rools. KO?



Hullo ma wee blog,

3.30am and after having been in bed for less than two hours I have tossed and turned enough for one night. It's rubbish! How can I be so tired and yet not able to sleep? Why is my brain on overdrive at this time of night and only in first or second gear for the rest of the day? Was I a burglar in a previous life I wonder?.

Answers on a postcard to........

So as usual I'm at my place at the kitchen table, cup of tea by my side and before I spend some time quietly preparing for a Childrens Panel on Thursday I thought I might share some music that I'll be listening to while I delve into social work background reports.

Here's a couple of tracks from Playing for Change. It's a great movement and I love these performances.

The introduction to their website {www.playingforchange.com} says,

'Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world.'



I return to these two tracks especially, again and again. They never fail to put a smile on my face. {no matter what time of day it might be!}

see you later


and YOU KNOW what I'm listening to, don't you......

Monday, 15 March 2010

Favourite film scenes challenge.........


Hullo ma wee blog,

Recently at a children's hearing we had an hour without a hearing as key people had failed to turn up. Spending an hour with people you don't normally, the conversation turned as it often does to hobbies and interests. Almost everyone will espouse a keen interest in film and we had a short discussion on favourite actors or film scenes.

The moment came to me again just now as I was reading a news headline and was caught by a sidebar 'best ever film scene' note.

Intrigued I spent a few minutes looking at what the worthies interviewed thought were their favourite scenes and of course there were only a few surprises - apart from the ones I absolutely didn't know at all.

It made me think to ask you whats one of your favourite film scene - or OK then, scene or two - or scene featuring a favourite actor and why.

I'm not going to ask the definitive "whats your favourite film clip?" as if you're like me, you wont be able to get the list down to anything like that.

But go on and post a favourite clip in your blog and let me know so I can go and check it out.

One of mine is at the top. A scene from 'Good Will Hunting' and featuring the much under-rated actor Robin Williams, one of my favourites, who unfortunately has been tarred with the 'used to be a comedian' brush and has also made a few poor choices. On a good day however I think he is outstanding and this scene represents him well.

His character is a psychiatrist tasked with analysing Matt Damons disturbed genius character. This is their first meeting after Damon's character carried out an attack on Williams characters personality based on a painting he {Williams} had done.

And as I said one or two, here's another couple.


Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Bloody Peasants!

This ones self explanatory I think.

From favourite director Bill Forsythe's 80's film "Comfort and Joy".

Bill Paterson plays Alan "Dickie" Bird, a Glasgow radio DJ recovering from being dumped by his girlfriend. In this scene, he spots a beautiful girl (Clare Grogan) in the back of an ice cream van who smiles at him. He follows the van, purchases a 99 and gets involved in a war between rival ice cream companies.



So.........any takers?

see you later.

listening to Amy McDonald 'Caledonia'

Another Blustery Day in East Lothian.......


River Whiteadder, Abby St. Bathans, Borders.

Hullo ma wee blog,

Jings, it's been a wee while since I have taken the time just to blog about this and that. Our trip to the frozen northland - or Aviemore as it's better known - went well. There was snow aplenty all around and the weather was gorgeous. We chilled and took in some sights and did very little else.

We did take the opportunity to go and see my Dad's older sister, Aunt May, who is 87 and lives on her own in a small village near Elgin, which is only about 40 or 50 easy minutes drive north-east from Aviemore, rather than the 4 hours non stop from home. It was lovely to see her again and to find her in such good spirits. She has always been fiercely independent and is very self contained even though she is far from family where she is. We spent an enjoyable and, for me, thought provoking couple of hours with her and her beautiful and sociable cat.


The Spey, provider of salmon and fine malt whisky.



The Cairgorms, still deeply in the grip of Winter.

We went to Inverness one day, to see an ex colleague of the lovely G, driving past Culloden battlefield, which I always feel a sentimental pull towards, and returned laden with bounty from her new shop. Evenings were spent with good food, easy conversation and a few local ales - well, you have to support the local economy don't you? We took a drive one day up to the infamous Tomintoul, which is the place where UK road reports most often advise as cut off by snow and found that one of the main roads in had only been opened four days before we got there after several weeks closed. The lady in the local shop described how the snow plough couldn't clear one of the roads in to the village and they had to bring down a snow clearing machine from one of the ski slopes as some of the drifts were 14ft deep.


A corbie {crow} lands on a neighbours lum {chimney}

We got back a day earlier than originally planned as the cattery had called us to say that Jess had stopped eating after a couple of days and they couldn't get her to eat anything they offered. After a further couple of days of this she was taken to the vet and given a check up, some appetite stimulant and some vitamin E jabs to help. We found though that when we got her home she began to eat and now, after 3 days at home, is back to normal. We think it was a reaction to being on her own for the first time - bailey had always been with her before, and since Bailey died she has never been without me around the house for company. I hope it's not going to be a problem for the future though.


Light on the stream

The return also brought about my birthday - thanks for all the greetings on that folks - and as usual I got spoiled rotten. Unfortunately a family dinner on Sunday had to be postponed when the lovely G's brother took ill, but hopefully he is on the mend now. Feels like it was one of those nasty bugs that do the rounds every so often.


Fast Castle Head from the beach path.

One of my birthday presents was a replacement battery charger for my canon EOS camera. The original has gone missing and I can't find it anywhere. Still, now I have a camera again I hope to get out and about and take some shots of some of my favourite places around and about this lovely part of the country, especially now I have got myself a decent zoom lens to play with. I have been lacking any relevant photos to put in the blog sometimes. I think its great to show the places and time your talking about when you can and I've really missed having my camera.

{that'll explain the overkill of photos on this post!}


Bush on the way to the rocky beach

The start of the week is going to be taken up with my monthly duel with job center to make sure we get the insurance claims authorised - all the paperwork needs to be in tomorrow or Wednesday, and also with getting some info back to children's panel for my reappointment, as you have to go through background checks every 3 years when you are involved with children and vulnerable young people. I also have a couple of job applications to prepare for. I'm having another crack at the parole board as they are going to be looking for more members due to legislation changes too. So all in all a busy few days ahead. Hopefully there will still be time for the odd blog or two as well.

see you later.

listening to Bruce Springsteen 'Downbound Train'

153 Sqn. 15th March 1945 - Misburg



My father served in this squadron. These posts follow Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time.

The target selected for March 15th was the Deurag oil refinery on the N/E outskirts of Hannover. 10 aircraft were detailed to take part, but a serious engine malfunction in PB 642(P4-W) prevented it from going. Although favoured by good visibility and accurate marking, the main weight of the attack fell south of the target. Some degree of heavy flak, in moderate barrage form, was encountered.


Post raid photo showing damage to refinery area Misburg.

There are many incredible stories of incidents which took place during air combat where survival outside of the odds was recorded and this raid provided one of the most bizarre incidents of any squadron's history. Approaching the target in the usual manner at the controls of NG 488(P4-2ndA), F/O Ted Parker suddenly found himself in mid-air - no aeroplane, no crew, nothing apart from his seat type parachute. In some inexplicable manner, his aircraft had disintegrated, projecting him into the night sky, but Ted was never able to explain the cause. There had been no warning of an approaching fighter nor any indication of flak - one moment he was flying his machine the next he was all on his own in space. He landed by parachute, evaded capture and arrived back at Scampton on 7th May. None of the rest of his crew survived.

Warrant Officer Robert Taylor
Photo courtesy of his Grand-daughter Colleen McDonald


NG488 was delivered to No.153 Sqdn 1Feb45. Airborne 1700 15 Mar45 from Scampton to bomb the Deurag oil plant. Cause of loss and crash-site not established. Those killed are buried in Hannover War Cemetery. P/O E.J.Parker Inj P/O J.J.Nevens KIA. F/O G.H.Small RCAF KIA. F/O H.J.Lodge KIA. WO2 R.Taylor RCAF KIA. Sgt A.W.Preston RCAF KIA. Sgt L.Williams KIA.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Jings!!!


Hullo ma wee blog,

Aw No!

I'm fifty-bloomin-one today!!!


CRIVENS! JINGS! HELP MA BOAB!

See ya later

Listening to - my bones creaking!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

153 Sqn. 13th March 1945 - Gelsenkirchen



My father served in this squadron. These posts follow Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time.

By the evening of 13th March, the Squadron could muster only 12 aircraft, one of which ME 424(P4-2ndN) was undergoing a quick overhaul. The remainder took off around dusk, to attack the Benzoil plant at Gelsenkirchen, which lies about 5 miles north of Essen. Conditions favoured the bombers - clear skies and a slight ground haze, through which the marking flares were easily identified. An accurate and concentrated attack ensued, enlivened by a massive explosion around 2045hrs reported by many crews. Once again, the enemy sought to divert the attack by setting off decoy fires accompanied by false markers. For some reason, the Germans were unable to successfully copy the RAF flares, so their decoys were usually identified and ignored. In fact, more crews tended to be misled by the 'creep-back' factor, occasioned by earlier arrivals dropping their bombs too soon.

F/O Martin had to abort the mission. He was piloting LM 754(P4-E) which, true to form, had engine trouble; this time the P/I caught fire. In accordance with squadron practice, he was allowed to jettison his 'cookie' (4,000lb bomb) in The Wash before attempting a 3-engine landing with his remaining load.(In 153 Squadron, a blind eye was closed if "new" crews i.e those with 10 ops or fewer, disposed of the cookie in this way; 'experienced' crews were expected to bring the whole load back.)

Either way, it entailed landing at a higher speed than normal. On reaching dispersal, it was part of the standard 'shut down' procedure to open the bomb bay doors, to facilitate inspection by ground crew - and to verify that all bombs had gone. However, there was always the chance that when a load had been brought back one bomb would drop off; a heart stopping moment!

(Some 50 years after the event, it was alleged that a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) flew on this particular raid, as a passenger in NG 500(P4-2ndV), piloted by F/O Bob Purves, RCAF. If true, this would constitute a unique incident. The allegation, interesting as it is, has never been proven.)

Thursday, 11 March 2010

153 Sqn. 11th -12th March 1945 - Essen/Gardening



My father served in this squadron. These posts follow 153 Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time.


The daylight raid on Essen on March 11th was distinguished by three items of interest; it was the last Bomber Command attack on this heavily bombed city which shortly after was occupied by American ground troops. The total force dispatched was 1079 bombers (750 Lancasters 293 Halifax's, 36 Mosquitoes) which briefly became the largest number of aircraft ever concentrated against one target in one attack. The target was completely obscured by 10/10 cloud necessitating bombing on sky markers. As F/O Noel Crane dryly noted - "The only result observed was cloud disturbance" but although conditions effectively grounded the Luftwaffe, it did not deter the German flak batteries, which initially put up a formidable box barrage.

By dint of considerable effort, 153 Squadron had contributed all 15 of its remaining aircraft to this 'milestone' 1,000 plus raid, from which only three failed to return. Unfortunately, this loss included NG 201(P4-2ndT) being flown by F/O Eric Gibbins and his young all-RAFVR crew; it would appear probable that the aircraft was stricken by a 'cookie' dropped from a higher-flying bomber.



Airborne 1125 from Scampton. Crashed in the target area and all were buried soon afterwards in the S-West Friedhof. Five are now buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, while F/S Craddock and Sgt Mitchell are commemorated on Panels 270 and 276 respectively of the Runnymede Memorial F/O E.W.Gibbins KIA. Sgt E.T.West KIA. F/S C.Cole KIA. F/S W.L.Shield KIA. F/S S.Craddock KIA. Sgt B.T.Gough KIA. Sgt J.Mitchell KIA."

MARCH 12th.

March 12th saw a new record of aircraft despatched to a single target - one that has never been bettered! The total force of 1,108 bombers (748 Lancasters, 292 Halifax's and 68 Mosquitoes) delivered a record 4,851 tons of bombs through cloud on hapless Dortmund, causing intense devastation to the centre and southern areas. 153(B) Squadron contributed 9 of its remaining 14 aircraft - the other 5 were required for the evening's Gardening operation. The force was escorted by USAAF long-range Thunderbolts, who flew too close for Tom Tobin's comfort - he much preferred to have Spitfire or Mustang escorts flying high above him. A nice touch was added to the day - LM 550(P4-C), in the capable hands of F/Lt Bill Langford, recorded its 100th operation and became one of those rare beasts in operational squadrons - a centurion.

GARDENING

That same evening, 5 aircraft set off mine laying, but only 3 made it back to Scampton.  RA 526(P4-2ndJ) was shot down, while PB 788(P4-2ndQ) was badly damaged and had to be classified 'DBR' {damaged beyond repair} after a belly landing at Carnaby.

As F/Sgt Freddie Fish navigated NG 488 (P4-2nd A) on the long leg to the tip of Jutland, he was acutely conscious that they were being plotted on enemy radar and, on reaching the coast, the crew were tensed up all the way to the drop zone, which lay some 10 miles south of Anholt. Any sense of relief following the drop was instantly dispelled when a fighter appeared astern bearing a searchlight on its nose (subsequently they learned that this was a BENITO fighter which illuminated a target to enable another, lurking on the opposite side, to have a silhouette to aim at). With both gunners blazing away, Whiz Wheeler took violent evasive action, eventually gaining cloud cover.



On the homeward journey, the crew recorded 3 Lancasters coming under concentrated, accurate, flak attack. Possibly, one of those could have belonged to 153 Squadron. Certainly, PB 786(P4-2ndQ) took a direct hit in the S/I engine, which also set the wing on fire. In an incredible attempt to tackle the blaze, F/Eng Reggy Morris hung out of his window with navigator Ian McGregor hanging grimly onto his legs, but to no avail. Skipper Noel Crane then gave an order to bale out, but Ian (not fancying the outcome), suggested that first they try to reach a small island showing up on his H2S screen. Noel's agreement was timely, for the rear gunner, already half way out of his turret, had fortuitously forgotten to disconnect his intercom, so returned to his usual station. For some reason, when F/O Crane lowered what was left of the under-carriage, the sudden rush of air extinguished the flames! It was now a toss-up whether to aim for the inviting lights of Sweden, or try to get home. Home won. With a badly damaged, unbalanced aircraft and dubious fuel readings they made pitifully slow progress, unable to maintain height, eventually issuing a 'Mayday' call; meanwhile Ian and W/Op, Johnny Peel, took a series of 'G' fixes, plotted them, and then notified them to the RAF Air/Sea Rescue Launch service. (The 'Boat Boys' subsequently advised that thanks to the information provided they had PB 786(P4-2ndQ) on their plotting table from halfway across the North Sea, and could have effected a rapid pick-up if needed. The meticulous efforts of the W/Op and navigator were featured in a later edition of 'Tee Em' {RAF aircrew wartime training magazine} as an example of correct Air/Sea Rescue co-operation. Undaunted, Noel nursed his stricken aircraft at just about zero feet, back to Carnaby where he pulled off a landing on only one leg - everyone walked away without a scratch. Quite a way to finish your operational tour!

Sadly at debriefing it was learned that RA 526(P4-2ndJ) piloted by F/O Ken Ayres and all his RAFVR crew, had been posted missing. At a much later date it transpired that they crashed near the island of Samsó - in fact, five of the crew now lies buried on the island. The navigator F/Sgt Reg McMinn was never found. The B/A, P/O Bob Maine, parachuted to safety - beating the odds against survival when bailing out during gardening ops - was made POW by the Germans, and eventually released by the Americans.

Airborne 1735 from Scampton for mine-laying operations in the Silverthorne Region (Kattegat Areas). Cause of loss not established. Crashed into the sea off the Danish Island of Samso. Five of the six men killed are buried in Trandbjaerg Churchyard. F/S McMinn has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 272 on the Runnymede Memorial. P/O K.A.Ayres DFC KIA. Sgt W.C.Taylor KIA. F/S R.J.McMinn KIA. F/O R.Mains PoW F/S D.Head KIA. Sgt R.Wilson KIA. Sgt D.Cox KIA. F/O R.Mains was confined in Hospital due injuries until Liberation. No PoW No. Returned UK 18Apr45. "



Mention must be made of a lighter incident on this operation, which entered Squadron lore. S/Ldr Rippingale invariably chose to fly in Lancaster LM 754(P4-E) despite the fact that its S/I engine regularly gave trouble, so that he often had to radio the Control Tower to announce "E - Easy - three engines". On his return from Gardening, he was surprised to find 'Smoky Joe' was still functioning properly, so mischievously Tom called up to announce "E - Easy - four engines". On reaching his dispersal, he found the station fire tender and the "blood wagon" (ambulance) waiting his arrival. It transpired that Control, never having been advised of anyone landing on four engines, had decided that Ripp had stated "four injured" and had taken all necessary precautionary measures!

Monday, 8 March 2010

153 Sqn. 8th March 1945 - Kassel




My father served in this squadron. These posts follow 153 Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time.

The selected target for March 8th was Kassel, which lay mid-way between the advancing armies of Russia and the Allies, but well ahead of both. Although the weather over the UK was bad for take-off and landing, that over the target was excellent, and crews had no trouble in identifying the target indicators and in pressing home a decisive attack. 176 aircraft took part in this final heavy raid by the RAF on Kassel. Fierce fires were still visible from well over 60 miles distance on the homeward leg - and to S/Ldr Rippingale on his approach!

This late arrival at the target was occasioned by a most unusual incident. While well along the runway, PB783 (P4-2ndI) with its tail up and nearing lift-off, suddenly swerved off the tarmac and ground-looped on the grass. It transpired that F/O Bruce Potter (flying his 28th operation) had collapsed at the controls; only a quick response by the F/E, Sgt Wooley, in closing off all power averted more serious consequences. Wing/Co Powley invited the crew to fly the operation with a "spare" pilot, but concerned for their Skipper and somewhat shaken by their experience, they firmly declined. The W/Co therefore ordered the night's Reserve Crew to take off instead - which explains how S/Ldr Rippingale departed at least 15 minutes behind everyone else, to blaze a dangerously conspicuous and solitary path to a well-lit target. This late arrival on the scene could have had dire consequences, but he passed unscathed through skies that had seen intense flak and fighter activity at the height of the raid. Among the casualties was NG 218 (P4-2ndB) which, in the care of F/O Searle, just made it back to Manston emergency airfield suffering a holed petrol tank, which grounded it for a week.

F/O Potter was admitted to hospital and never rejoined the Squadron.

Kassel was the Headquarters for Germany’s Wehrkreis {military district} IX, and a local subcamp of Dachau concentration camp provided forced labor for Henschel facilities. As well as being the capital of the provinces of Hesse-Nassau & Kurhessen, Kassel had some important targets.

Fieseler aircraft plant
Henschel {aircraft production and anti aircraft weapon} facilities
locomotive plant
engine plant
motor transport plant
railway works
Military HQs at Wehrkreis IX, and Bereich Hauptsitz Kassel
Central Germany HQ, highway & railway construction
Regional Supreme Court

The most severe bombing of Kassel in World War II destroyed 90% of the downtown area, some 10,000 people were killed, and 150,000 were made homeless. Allegedly most of the casualties were civilians or wounded soldiers recuperating in local hospitals, whereas factories survived the attack generally undamaged. The US Army captured Kassel on 3 April 1945.



Flak over the target was an ever present problem for crews who had to endure an extended period of straight and level flight on the run up to bomb release. This stretch, which would be for the final 10-12 miles of flight to target, allowed the bomb aimer to correctly position the aircraft over the target and would last for what felt like the longest 3 or 4 minutes of the crews lives. Once bombs gone was signaled the aircraft had to fly straight and level for a few further nerve shreddingly excruciating moments so that a confirmation photo could be taken. Only once this had been completed could the pilot break and start the run for home.

German anti aircraft batteries used 'box' and 'predicted' flak to target the bombers.

Box flak was simply the gunners getting as much munitions up into the sky as possible to try and hit or deter the aircraft using experience to gauge the correct height and position.

Predicted flak could be much more effective as it relied on radar linked guns using the supplied information from ground based radar and also from reports from night-fighters who would fly alongside the bomber stream and report back direction and height information to the gunners below. This meant that very accurate fire could be directed and this could also be linked to radar controlled searchlights making for an effective umbrella of protection for the target.

Once on the way home, the bomber stream would continue to be targeted by night-fighters lurking around the edges to use probing attacks on the unwary and to pick off any aircraft who were damaged and lagging behind. This contributed to heavy losses until allied air superiority was firmly established and fighter support could be provided - mainly for the daylight raids. The Bomber Command chief - 'Bomber Harris' - actually complained at the lack of fighter escorts and the heavy losses being sustained in attacks on German cities. This was odd as he switched the RAF to night raids as this was seen by his command as a safer option {USAAF continued to use predominantly daytime raiding tactics throughout the war} and he was therefore complaining that in effect his own tactics were incorrect!

Even the Bomber crews called him 'Butcher Harris'

Makes you Proud to be A Scot


Hullo ma wee blog,

After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, Irish scientists
found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the
conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more
than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Irish, in the weeks that followed, an English
archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story
published in the Sassenach Morning Herald read:

"English archaeologists, finding traces of 130-year-old copper wire,
have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 30 years earlier than the Irish".

One week later, the Banffshire Courier in Buckie, Scotland, reported
the following:

"After digging as deep as 30 feet in his pasture near Clat,
Aberdeenshire, Jock Broon, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely hee-haw.

Jock has therefore concluded that 130 years ago, Scotland had already gone wireless."

Just makes you proud to be a Scot!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

153 Sqn. March 7th 1945 - Dessau


These posts follow 153 Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time.

This being a period of moonless nights, no-one was greatly surprised that on 7th March a further 'Thunderclap' target was selected - the town of Dessau, lying midway between Berlin and Leipzig. 153 Squadron dispatched 14 of its remaining 16 aircraft, which encountered cloud all the way out and back, resulting in a sketchy attack. The outward journey took the Main Force north of the Ruhr on a course seemingly destined for Berlin. There was intense night fighter reaction to the perceived threat; combats occurred all along the route. One fighter, crossing through the stream of bombers, nearly collided with Tom Tobin who recalled - "He was so close that I felt I could shake hands with him, as we whistled past!"

The night recorded a significant milestone, F/O George Bishop, RCAF, and except for the F/Eng, his all-Canadian crew, became the first to complete the new tour requirement of 36 operations, all of which were flown with 153(B) Squadron. They flew the last twelve of these operations in only five weeks.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A Short Intermission will now follow...........



Hullo ma wee blog,

The lovely G and I are taking a break for a few days. We have rented a chalet on the edge of Aviemore - temp last night -12C - and plan to do a bit of walking, sight seeing and chilling out so my frazzled wee wifey can recover from the stress and strain of keeping me in the manner to which I have become accustomed {Yea. Right.} and I can prepare to become a whole year older.

Good grief, what is that going to do to my grumpiness..........

Although my trusty laptop will be coming I know the chalet doesn't have internet connections so it might be a wee while to the next post.



see you later.

Be good.

listening to Manfred Mann, 'Blinded by the Light'

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