My trip to England is finally set. After an attempt in 2016 was held up by injury, I (founder / developer of this site) am finally heading over to visit England for a brief visit, combining a cycle trip along the South Downs Way (National Park) from Winchester to Eastbourne (Sept 10-14) followed by a visit to the Battle of Britain memorial at Capel-le-Ferne on Battle of Britain Day Sept 15 -- where there will be a flypast.
NOTE: The trust runs the Capel-le-Ferne site without any government support, so donations or online purchases are always welcome by them, along with your visit (the site is free to visit). I will look forward to that visit and learning more. You can find their info / site description here
I hope to send out some local press along the way to invite anyone's contributions to the site, and host a few pub nights (Sept 11th Dolphin in Chichester at 7 p.m. (you are cordially invited!), frequented by Tangmere airmen at the time) and a second pub night near Biggin Hill (Croydon area) on Sept 16 for Londoners.
If you think you'd like to meet up, please let me know *use the contact us below or add a comment* and check back here (blog) for details. The pub location for Biggin Hill area may well be "The Jail", also frequented by pilots / aircrew at the time. For the 11th, we will also have a guest talk by Group Captain Ron Powell, author of "Wings Over Summer" the story of a Spitfire pilot during the summer of 1940 during the Battle of Britain. Come on out to say hi, stay for a pint, there could even be some give-aways (there will be).
Here is the agenda so far.
- Cycle South Downs Way Sept 10-13 (the hills are scaring me a bit)
- Sept 11, drop down to Tangmere to visit the old control tower that remains (pub night at the Dolphin Chichester)
- Sept 15, attend Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne
- Sept 16, visit Biggin Hill during the afternoon, and happy to meet anyone with any images / pilot additions (2nd pub night The Jail)
I fly home (Canada) on the 17th of September, and hope to have had at least scratched the surface of the vast amount of information available on the Battle of Britain and to collect more Spitfire pilot bios. I realize the Hurricane played as much or more of a role in the Battle of Britain, and, anyone can add Hurricane pilots to this site (and many converted), however this site is not specific to 1940, it is about the Spitfire and it's pilots across all theatres of WWII and years, as it served continuously. This trip is one way to touch a bit of it, reach out to those with more information to add on any Spitfire pilot. Since 2015 many photos have been liberated from attics to be shared more widely. I have for example, voluminous information from the son of PRU pilot John Bendixson, who sends aerial photos and stories from sorties weekly (I am behind on getting some of this out) but will do some features on the PRU modified Spitfire soon.
Many contributors have gone on to add not only their father or grand-father, but many others, bringing attention to some of the better and lesser known actions (e.g. North Africa and Italy) including other squadron mates and memories handed down. It's been an honour to create this site, and, I hope through this trip, to stay on track to find an organization to perhaps carry on these efforts as subject matter experts while I focus on any coding / technical support. Through this site, I have learned about an Uncle's (RCAF) close friend who was shot down and survived (barely) and many (many) remarkable stories of those who were swept up in WWII as pilots. For those who survived, being able to collect their post-war life story is equally compelling.
* note: While in the Goodwood / Tangmere area, I will be up on South Downs way (cycling) as a result, if any locals or visitors would wish to visit the Tangmere tower on Sept 11th, and possibly get down to Chichester to the pub the airmen frequented, I would love a lift! I'll be cycling 20-30 miles a day off-road, so I will hope to save a bit of leg power. I will also post some local press to invite anyone else meet up or share any information they may have.