Lincolnshire Lancaster Association Day 2009

29 09 2009

Sunday was Lincolnshire Lancaster Association (LLA) day, an annual event for members (and non-members who park up along the fence of the air base) that culminates in a display by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF).  As I’ve detailed in a previous post aircraft are cool so it should be of no surprise that 1) I am a member of the LLA and 2) that come Sunday I wandered down to RAF Coningsby with my camera, lunch and fold away chair (indispensable at air shows). 

Prior to the afternoon’s flying, the BBMF were put on display to allow enthusiasts an opportunity to take as many photos as desired.  I’m yet to procure a really decent camera, so my photos aren’t as gorgeous as they could have been, which is a shame as at this stage the sun was actually shinning! 

One by one the flight took off, and after a brief absence for a photo-op over Woodhall Spa, came back for their fly-pasts and displays.  Unfortunately, my good luck with the camera at Waddington earlier in the year deserted me on Sunday.  Nevertheless I did manage one photo that I’m happy to share:

Full Size BBMF Flight

Not much, but something, and better than nothing.  This was the only fly past with the full flight, and despite the missing wing of the Dakota, I’m amazed that my old little camera managed to capture any of it at all!

However, the highlight of the afternoon was the appearance of the Vulcan.  Which I almost missed.  The Vulcan’s appearance had been cancelled out on the programme, and as I had to skedaddle at 1530, I missed any announcement to the contrary.  So it was rather fortuitous that on the way home the Vulcan was spotted out the window and the car stopped in time to see it fly over. 

Finally, this year I decided to make a batch of cupcakes especially for the occasion and in a fit of domestic goddess-ness, settled on an appropriate decoration:

RAF Cupcakes 2


Kindertransport: what one man and history can teach us

3 09 2009

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war against Germany. As a youngster discovering history I found this event endlessly fascinating and absorbing. I wanted to learn about it and, in my own way, try to understand it. Wrapping my head around its immensity, scale and impact was a challenge in itself; to this day I still find the facts, numbers and events involved mind-boggling.

The Second World War also threw up a paradox for me: as a youngster it felt both very distant in time and so therefore removed from my own generation and day-to-day existence, and yet it also felt very much a part of it. Both my Grandad and Nana had served in the forces during the war (British Royal Navy & the WAAF), and though my Grandad had since passed on, my Nana was a living reminder that this war was still as much a part of my generation as it had been for her generation and my that of my parents. There was still a very tangible link to Second World War. This was when I first realised that the events of history are as much a part of our present as the events that take place around us today.

There are too many people today who choose to either forget, disregard or just not acknowledge the events of the past. For whom the past offers nothing of interest or relevance. However it is precisely those events of the past that determine and define our present, and subsequently help shape our future. Nothing informs us about who we are, and what we can be, better than our past and where we’ve been and what we’ve done.

Over the last three days the BBC News Channel has been chronicling the journey of the Winton Train. This journey is being undertaken by the surviving children who were rescued from Czechoslovakia and taken to Britain as part of Kindertransport as war was breaking out. Tomorrow they’ll arrive in London and meet the man who organised the original rescue mission, Sir Nicholas Winton (MBE), who himslef turned 100 years old this year. That one man was capable of so much speaks volumes for the power of the individual and what humanity can achieve when we really try.  It is a history lesson worth learning. 

I’ll admit that this was not one of the stories of the Second World War that I was familiar with; as far as I can gather it wasn’t widely known until after 1988 when his wife found a scrapbook detailing the event. But watching the survivors, now 70 years older, sitting in the train with name-tags hanging round their necks like they did all those decades ago and hearing their stories has been very poignant, very moving.

All of this has led me to discover that I have been passing on a daily basis a commemoration to this very event. Outside Liverpool Street Station stands a bronze sculpture of a group of children standing with their suitcases and teddy bear looking slightly bewildered and in awe. While I had noticed it earlier, and surmised that it probably related to the various movements of children during World War II, I hadn’t (until now) been able to fully appreciate it. I think today, on my way home, I’ll forgo the rush and stop for a moment. I think that would be only right.