‘Why exactly are we going to Flixton today? Michael asked.
The whole venture of Heligoland 39 is a bit of a mystery to me, and this is no exception. Why we are remembering a infamous disastrous phoney war battle of ww2, in which far too many died. Although at the first gathering at Ely cathedral, there was an extraordinary comradarie amongst the families, the inheritors of the story as I am through Richard. Many of our family gathered, which itself was an unusual event, and not the usual funeral reason.
I heard the jigsaw pieces of how the story came to life, in the Buck at Flixton over a pint of Wherry beer, and from the man I’d only met on email, Jack Waterfall.
Jack had an uncle who’d flown Wellington bombers and who crashed and died in northern Germany, …..
This like Ely was Jacks instigation and one had immediate trust in Jack and knew all would turn out in the end. We were not wrong. Jack and Caroline who turned out to be his cousin as well as researcher, met us prompt at noon outside the Flixton Buck. To our surprise, Caroline had found contact with Sarah the daughter of RAF Francis who flew in Kellett s Wellington as part of 149 squadron during the raids in Heligoland and Wilhelshaven. Both Sarah and I were a bit blown away by this encounter. Shed driven up with her tall husband Richard, who it transpired Sarah’s father had often confided to about this flying times.
Perhaps because of Sarah and Richard being so new to the project Jack relayed the origins of his involvement, and it is an unusual story.
His father had been shot down in …. In Germany in 1940 in a Wellington. With Caroline’s help they managed to find the place and the story, the airmen had all been given full military send off and buried carefully. The tender care bestowed by the so called enemy was touching. The area where the plane came down was forest and had scorched the wood badly. The area, how replanted, could be seen from Google Earth. They researched and found all the relatives of the Wellington involved, and together they had a ceremony there, and one in Scotland where two relatives came from.
If we can research for these 4 we can do 40. So we began the Heligoland 39 project.
Richard James – a specialist of the 9th squadron, joined us. He’d been a fighter pilot flying Robert Holmes / Rotherham / Playing for time / Queensbury rules / They’ve got moor bent metal from OTU / L4288 9th squadron, 1939 October
Wellingtons were the backbone of bomber command, yet no one remembers them. Spitfires oh yes. They were the Guinea pigs as were the airmen who flew them.
Today 4the September is the 80th anniversary of the first rad battle in Keal.
Arthur Robert. R . Robert. Propellant wooden with plastic coating, lighter than metal. Jab love props. Bristol Hercules engines / Wellingtons had Pegasus engines . Wellington mark 1 Pegasus / Mark 2 Merlin / Mark 3 Hercules wood props / Target for tonight
Of the 11,643 wellingtons made, only 2 survive and one of them is in Broklands.
1939 4 October. Paul Harris on this raid.
Richard 9th. Two gulf wars.
1945 46 criterion aircraft. 1952 to 1968 this Valetta. Seats facing the rear, safest on crash landing. 2 war technology. To transport VIPs around. Became the varsity. Flying pig.
They come to the Wood. On the veranda we look at Richards log books. Richard James finds his colleagues on the Stalagluft raffle page.
Finally Fish and chips in SeaShell Halesworth. We form a secret committee called sea shell, to topple this government and save the uk from imploding. Do not mention the word Brexit.