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The Spitfire Society Annual General Meeting - 3 October 2020 - CANCELLED

To be held at the Aerospace Bristol Museum on Saturday 3 October 2020.

Please see http://aerospacebristol.org/find-us for location information.

Members will have free access to the Museum and Concorde on the day and must pre-book in advance with the Treasurer or Membership Secretaries by 15 April 2020 at the latest. Tickets in advance for non-members/family guests will be £8.00. On the day to the Museum will be £6 for members and £12 for non-members/family.

Schedule

10am – Tea, coffee and biscuits served

10.30am - Living history presentation, Battle Of Britain RAF station operations room

12.45pm - Living history presentation, Battle Of Britain RAF station operations room

1-2pm – Buffet lunch served

2-3pm – Presentations by Scott Booth on Laguna’s Spitfire Legacy and Victoria Taylor on the Luftwaffe's perspective on the Battle of Britain (presentation title to follow in due course) followed by Tea, coffee and biscuits served

Scott Booth on Laguna’s Spitfire Legacy

The idea behind LSL is to create a lasting recognition to the brave Battle of Britain Pilots with a specific focus on a central figurehead in Wing Commander Piotr Łaguna. These brave pilots whom were so pivotal in the outcome of the Second World War, were coined by Sir Winston Churchill as “The Few”.

LSL’s sole aim is to deliver this, through interaction with the public at organized events such as Polish Heritage days, Airshows and other such appropriate wartime events around the country. This will take place in the form of a full scale replica of Wing Commander Laguna’s 303 Squadron Spitfire, P8331 RF-M Sumatra. He flew this aircraft for the last time and was lost on 27th June 1941 over Coquelles, France. This will be for the public to see, touch and feel. We will also have a full scale cockpit replica for people to experience what it was like to sit in and fly a Spitfire. Supporting this will be an exhibition of personal equipment and articles relating to the aircraft and pilot(s).

The Battle of Britain (BoB) was arguably the biggest turning point of WW2. Had the RAF not managed to surpress and hold back the German Luftwaffe, inevitably Great Britain would have fallen and, alas, Europe as a whole. To take this one step further, Britain had a big problem during this time: a lack of pilots and more specifically, experienced pilots.

The Polish were initially held back for language challenges until a break of procedure ended up with the Polish demonstrating their deadly flying skills with successfully shooting down a number of enemy aircraft without loss of pilots. At this point they were made operational and flew the last 42 days (Half of the period) of the BoB. During this time 303 Squadron became the highest scoring squadron with 126 enemy aircraft destroyed and the loss of 8 pilots. This was a remarkable feat, given their RAF counterparts shot down less and lost more pilots.

This ultimately made them the heroes of the hour. They were seen as ferocious and brave as well as deadly and skilled. They were admired and respected by their counterparts as well as by the enemy.

We would like to engage business, communities and schools to promote an interest for young adults in communities aiding intergration, engineering, leadership, management and motivation.

There has been a long standing pride and global recognition of the quality of British Engineering Aerospace, Medical research and development, Banking and IT. The list is endless. However, it is very clear that the country faces a challenge in terms of recruiting young adults to choose a career in skilled roles in any given discipline.

LSL would like to work with businesses in actively engaging these young adults and inspiring a career into their chosen area of interest. This, we feel, could be through co-marketing and sponsorship as well as through trade fairs where we could have the replica there to act as part of their stand space or recruitment campaign. We hope that businesses will look to partner with us and choose a package of sponsorship, which will allow them a level of access to the project and also to our team of experts who can deliver anything from historical talks to motivational speakers and management skills.

The Anglo/Polish historical relationship has extended over many hundreds of years and has been positive for both countries with a huge respect held for each other. During WW2 the Polish forces, having been ordered to evacuate Poland, ended up as one of our strongest allies with associations to the most ferocious battles of that time including the aforementioned Battle of Britain and Monte Casino to name but two. These are seen as much Polish Battles as they were British.

Over the last few years, the Polish communities have made great efforts to try to integrate into local communities such as Polish Heritage Days and participation in local groups, councils and schooling. This, for the majority, has been very successful.

There is a large population of Polish people now working and living in the UK, the largest number since the end of WW2. Whilst intergration has been positive, there have been some challenges to communities with acceptance. This is seen specifically with children and young adults. They find that they have an identity crisis, having been either born in Poland or in the UK but living with Polish parents, and having to intergrate into British culture and lifestyle as a mixture of the two countries' heritage. It can be challenging at times for them.

We would like to encourage people to firstly remember the 80th Anniversary of the BoB. This was not of course just about the Polish pilots, but a representation of many pilots from many countries around the globe.

We would like schools to actively participate in remembrance of a pilot that is specific to the school. This may take the form of a former pupil as an example or a local pilot from the village / town / city / country. We would encourage them to research the pilot and produce a piece of work that tells the history of them and add pictures or art work to this. LSL would then create a database and web page that displayed this for the public to read and see. Finally we would then like to invite the school or participating pupils to come and see a flying Spitfire and hear some talks from the Pilot and historians.


3pm -Living history presentation, Battle Of Britain RAF station operations room 

3-5pm – AGM Business Meeting

The First of The Many? Exhibition goes ‘virtual’

An exhibition and talk marking the 80th anniversary of what may have been the first World War II fighter aircraft fund of any UK town, a second fund, two Spitfire aircraft and their pilots has had to go ‘virtual’.

A talk scheduled at the exhibition at Wolverhampton’s Central Library, Snow Hill, on Saturday June 13, has gone online instead on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/ePNCsVFfgbQ

The Tuesday May 26- Thursday June 18, 2020, exhibition was to commemorate thousands in Wolverhampton, the Black Country, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands giving to two fundraisers in 1940.

A fuller outline of the exhibition and some of the material which was due to be in it is in a blogpost at: https://burslembandit.wordpress.com/2020/06/12/the-first-of-the-many/

A first fund started as the Wolverhampton Express & Star newspaper published a letter from ‘Quaestor’ in Letters to The Editor on Saturday June 15, 1940. Quaestor (correct)– Latin for one who asks questions –the pen name used by Wilfred Byford-Jones (correct) as foreign correspondent and, by then, the newspaper’s news editor.

Earlier in 1940 the Jamaican Gleaner newspaper raised funds for a war plane in the West Indies – not the UK.

Under the headline ‘We Must Have More Planes’ Quaestor wrote: “Here’s an idea. If every area like this in the country bought a plane for service in the war the Government would be helped and the men would be heartened not only by the spirit of sacrifice of those who were at home but by the close personal touch they would have with their home towns and people.”

By Monday – June 17– a total of £1,250 towards the purchase of a fighter – a Spitfire was not specified– was reached and by the July 1 £6,000 and then a final total of £6,746. Later the fund was linked to Spitfire Mk Vb AB917 – The Inspirer (supposedly named because it inspired other funds.)

After this other towns, cities, companies, individuals and overseas groups all joined the drive to provide hundreds of planes of all types with Chesterfield first to specify Spitfire in fundraising on July 5, 1940.

Later in 1940 the Mayor of Wolverhampton’s fund - specifically for a Spitfire - raised £5,076 so just above a £5,000 target then set by the Ministry of Aircraft Production (possibly £286,000 in today’s prices).

‘Presentation’ Spitfires – The Inspirer (allocated to the Express & Star fund) and Wulfrun Spitfire Mk Vb P8715 (the mayor’s fund) – were both lost with Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) pilots flying them.

Inspirer pilot – Gerald Bickle Whitney Junior (correct), born in Canada but brought up in Fort Worth, Dallas, Texas, and son of a Canadian WW1 fighter pilot, died on April 24, 1942 as the plane was hit in combat and crashed onto a road Kent without him being able to bale out – as he had managed to do in another aircraft in 1941.

Wulfrun’s RCAF pilot, Flight Lieutenant William Thomas Johnstone, of Calgary, Alberta, baled out and parachuted into the sea off the coast of northern France on April 14, 1943 when hit by fire from a Messerschmitt 109 fighter. He was last seen alive in a dinghy 4 miles from the coast.

No photographs of Wulfrun have come to light – unlike The Inspirer – but modellers Neil Willis and Andy Walker of the Aero Space and Vehicle Club, who meet in Wombourne, have built scale models of both aircraft to go in the exhibition if and when it can be reorganised.

Ends

For further information please contact Jim Barrow on 07970 463434 or email jimdrudge@aol.com

Secret Spitfires poster

Screening of Secret Spitfires - Southampton - TBC

Join us at 10.30am for a presentation and interactive session with film producer Ethem Cetintas and historical adviser Norman Parker.  This will be followed by the screening of the film at 11am.  There will also be a tour of the former Supermarine Factory and connected sites in the afternoon.

For more information and to book tickets click here.

    

Spitfire Study Day at Biggin Hill

Come and see a legend at close quarters

There is no aeroplane more iconic than the Spitfire. Called by many the saviour of the Free World, especially during the Battle of Britain, this sleek design is frequently seen at air shows around the world. This is your chance to get up close and personal with the fighter at one of the world’s leading Spitfire operators - and at the famous Battle of Britain fighter station, Biggin Hill.

We will study:

• Design and development, discussing new research into the origins
• The role of the Spitfire in the Battle of Britain
• The fighting power of the Spitfire
• The engineering of the wing design
• The stories of the brave men who flew from RAF Biggin Hill

Where we’ll be:

There can be nowhere better to study the Spitfire than the former RAF Biggin Hill in the 80th year of the Battle of Britain. The facilities of the Heritage Hangar are world-class and afford a privileged access to Spitfires under maintenance, re-build and flying. The hangar would be conducted by one of the engineers who spends every day with these magnificent machines and he’ll be able to answer the most in-depth engineering questions.

Included is a free copy of SPITFIRE EVOLUTION, signed and personalised by the author Paul Beaver and the opportunity to buy a small commemorative mug of the day.

Lectures:

Paul Beaver will lead the discussion on the Spitfire throughout the day, focussing on the study areas. The advantage of the Heritage Hangar is that much of the lectures can be illustrated with real examples from the engineering shop floor.

Tour Guide:

Paul Beaver is a well-known historian and broadcaster who continues to research the Spitfire. He spent six years flying Spitfires in six European countries. He regularly lectures on his experiences to lay and expert audiences, including at the Battle of Battle Bunker in Uxbridge. Paul has recently been appointed Honorary Group Captain of No 601 (County of London) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, which flew Spitfires during and the immediately after the war.

Paul Beaver is the author of two major works on the Spitfire, is a member of the Spitfire Society and lectures regularly on the development and service life of the worlds most iconic aeroplane. He even has 6 years of Spitfire flying in his log book.

10.00 - Meet at Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar
10.15 - Introduction lecture by Paul Beaver
11.00 - Coffee Break
11.15 - Go behind the scenes with a tour of the hangar by an engineer who works with the Spitfires

12.30 - Buffet style lunch in the hanger

13.30 - Paul Beaver lecture
14.30 - Sit in a Spitfire Photographer John Goodman will take photographs (chargeable)
15.30 - Spitfire engine start up
16.00 - Day will finish

Complimentary copy of Spitfire Evolution signed by Paul Beaver

Lectures
· The Spitfire and the Battle of Britain
· Biggin Hill and Spitfire operations
· Wartime developments to the Spitfire

https://www.historicaltrips.com/tour/106/UnitedKingdom/Spitfire-Study-Day-at-Biggin-Hill.html

Battle of Britain 80th anniversary logo

Battle of Britain beer and film festival - London - TBC

Join us for the Battle of Britain beer and film festival at the Princess of Prussia pub, 15 Prescot Street, London, E1 8AZ.

Programme to be announced.

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Wallop Spitfire Weekend - TBC

RAF Middle Wallop was a Battle of Britain Sector Station, 80 years on we are commemorating the brave men and women of the Spitfire generation.

The weekend will feature all things SPITFIRE:

Spitfire flying display, Saturday evening “Big Debate”, Spitfire veterans, Spitfire lectures, specialist traders, model show, book launches and signing, schools programme.

Tickets on sale from the 1 March 2020 and can be bought by clicking here.  Society members can use a code that gives £15 off tickets and this can be found by logging into the member's area of the website.

https://www.armyflying.com/events/special-events/wallop-spitfire-weekend/