As the editor (and founder) for www.allspitfirepilots.org, I've been fortunate enough to be in touch with many sons, daughters, grand-children, nieces and nephews of former Spitfire pilots. What's almost universal about them is that in a quest to find out more, they typically end up researching a great deal about other pilots in the squadron or wing. For Kevin Charles, son of Spitfire pilot Alan Charles, this is no different. You can check out Kevin's profile on this site to see the couple of hundred pilots he's posted, along with his own father's page. Kevin has posted a considerable amount of material on the Desert Airforce, and, he attributes that in part to long cricket matches on TV allowing him to read through the ORBs. In corresponding with Kevin, I requested a short article summing up his research interest and activity which you can read below. Plus he just located his father's log book, so stay tuned for more.
From Kevin Charles on Spitfire pilot Alan Charles and 244 Wing - the Desert Airforce!
My father Alan Charles was a member of 601 Squadron and flew Spitfires in Italy at the end of WW2, and managed ... read more ...
Greetings, as we head into fall -- a number of new features are being planned for the site. You may have already seen a few. For one, the squadron numbers and serials flown sections of a pilot page have been given more room, and, soon, more information (incident report) will be able to be added when adding a date / serial no in the pilots 'aircraft flown' section. That will move the site closer and closer to showing ORB / logbook details.
But one feature that was very simple to add, and, potentially very useful -- was a recent change to hyperlink the pilot's squadron number on the pilot page to go to a page that lists all other pilots having the same airforce / squadron identification -- and so far, the results are fascinating. For example one of our users (Kevin Charles son of Spitfire pilot) has been diligently adding pilots from 92 Squadron and other squadrons of 244 Wing during a particular date range primarily operating out of Italy. As a result, a lot of squadron pilots are showing up on the site, and now those that flew as part of a particular squadron can be seen on ... read more ...
I was recently contacted by the daughter of Captain M. Balan, who flew with Number 4 Squadron of the RIAF during the closing days of WWII and subsequently with Number 4 Squadron in Japan as part of the occupying force.
I was able to ask a number of questions directly to Mr. Balan through his daughter, who was very kind in phoning her father in India to obtain the answers. Mr. Balan looks very young in his service pictures, and, apparently is doing very well at 93 and fondly remembers his flying days, and we thank him for sharing some of his stories. He was extensively interviewed on the www.bharat-rakshak.com web-site (links are on the pilot page for Captain Balan), where lots of detail can be found on his early flying days, EFTS training, and deployment to Japan where he flew the clipped wing Spitfire.
Although he wasn't in combat, flying was dangerous, as they flew for extended periods over water, over low mountains, in bad weather, in training dives (black out possibility), and, take-offs side by side fighting off immense torque by the Spitfire airscrew, applying full rudder to get in the air without incident. I loved his quote ... read more ...
A great escape of immense magnitude, where 338,000+ UK, French, and Belgian soldiers were evacuated from the choked pocket around Dunkirk. Director Chris Nolan has created what looks to be an extraordinary film using as much 'in camera' footage as possible, including real aircraft. The whole movie evokes a 'being there' sense that transports the viewer back in time. Dramatic, emotional, triumphant -- for saving the British army. On the eve of the Battle of Britain and what many feared would come next, the invasion of England itself.
There has been some rancour in the day (one story of RAF being kicked out of a pub by returned soldiers) regarding the RAF being there in sufficient force to prevent the casualties. As the German tanks stopped to let the Luftwaffe decimate the forces below, it became very desperate. The RAF did respond, in numbers, and as one source (Ellis) quotes "during the nine days from May 26 through June 3, the RAF lost 177 aircraft destroyed or damaged; the Germans lost 240 (including from flak). For much of the Luftwaffe, Dunkirk came as a nasty shock." There was success in the air, but also ... read more ...
Unfortunately the 2017 summer cycle tour of the Kent Coastline and other site stopovers (Airshows/Duxford/B of B sites) will be postponed due to injury. Kurt (founder of site) says "I am unfortunately not able to cycle this summer due to upcoming surgery in July and will have to postpone this amazing trip that is dedicated to these pilots and their efforts".
"I'll either give it a try again in October of 2017, or more than likely, postpone to the summer of 2018". On the positive side, it allows the site more time to add more pilot biographies and features.
"I'll still make a decision in August about a potential late Sept / Oct visit, and I wish everyone who uses this site the best in their own health and well being" Turchan says. If anyone was planning on a meet up, or has added a number of pilots in anticipation of the trip, please get in touch with Kurt.
Check back to these blogs to a) get an update b) leave a comment or send an email RSVP'ing your interest in a pub night when the trip does happen. The more RSVPs, the better.
One may not have a Spitfire at their disposal, or even know how to fly, but, one can hoist a glass of ale with the Spitfire logo on it in honour of the actual aircraft and pilots. Possibly in a glass that allspitfirepilots.org puts in your hands. Shepherd-Neame makes the ale which they call a 'Kentish Ale'. They also make Spitfire Gold and Spitfire Lager. They all "take off" and land well in the Shepherd-Neame curved glass with SPITFIRE lettering and logo and that's what we'll have to give away this summer 2017 on our UK visit!
The potential allspitfirepilots.org cycle trip this summer along England's coast is an effort to collect more pilot biographies from people, see some of the sights, and, then host two group meet-ups (pub) with guest speakers. We'll have 20 SPITFIRE glasses (a squadron of glasses) to give away at these events. We will have two or three brief presentations, including one from author Ron Powell, who penned the popular "Wings Over Summer" and "Wings Over Malta" novels. Ron has had a distinguished career as Group Captain in the RAF, and, is now matching that enthusiasm with several novels from the WWII period. We reviewed ... read more ...
As we head into the New Year 2017, it's time to line up some new activity for allspitfirepilots . org.
One of which is a potential cycle tour (mostly on sustrans NCN routes) between Battle of Britain stations / airfields. I'd be glad to have anyone join me, cycling for a day or two or just meeting up.
The main purpose of the trip is to tour, learn, add more pilots as I ride, and, encourage others who have information to do so. While relatives from all these countries have been posting pilot information, the largest traffic base is from the UK. The decision to move forward with the trip will be based on RSVPs for a few pub nights, or, if a number of readers respond with an interest to meet up and share their stories.
We'll be adding many more pilot biographies as we cycle / visit along the way so keep clicking the "Feed" at the bottom of the site for a quick glimpse on what's new. You can sign-up to add or follow a set of pilots and get notified when new content gets added - and join in to build the history. You don't have ... read more ...
Family members continue to pour content in, and we'll cover some of the highlights. But at the same time it's not all family members, and, we are lucky to have some enthusiasts from all over the world adding content. A frequent poster to this site from Croatia has built a considerable interest in Canadian pilot JM Brodie. He was shot down (whose aircraft still lies in shallow waters) and killed while attacking shore targets. Other family members have added their fathers / grand-fathers to the site, and, in typical fashion, have taken an interest in other members of the squadron and added those pilots as well. This is a sure sign a next project will be to add squadron histories and forums to the site, allowing those who may share an interest in a particular squadron to communicate.
For now, here are some of the highlights;
K. Charles (has added his father and 7 others he would have flown with)
JR Caulton's Grand-son has added some fantastic imagery on Caulton's capture (image top)
Mr. Caulton would love to see more information posted on his grand-father, should anyone have it. For people who "follow" a pilot ... read more ...
After going live some 10 months ago, it's apparent that relatives of former WWII spitfire pilots are the greatest contributors.
From sons, daughters, grand-children and nieces and nephews who've taken special interests, 8 times out of 10 it's images or additional links for a pilot page (or a whole new entry) added by a relative.
The links section is particularly useful as this site is not trying to duplicate information out there, but, rather to honour each and every spitfire pilot, whether they flew in combat, training, reconnaisance, or other. Many women flew spitfires ferrying them great distances under difficult conditions. The links help centralize all the information available for a pilot.
Family members and enthusiasts are welcome, from all over the world, to post a page on a pilot. Or just add an image. Or ask a question in the comments section and solve a mystery (anyone who follows the pilot will get an email with the question. Feedback always appreciated, there are more features to come. Thanks for checking in.
Captured and tortured in the 1st Gulf War, John Nicol has since become an author (14 books), journalist, and motivational speaker. He is very well known for his media projects and reflections on war, his web-site is www.johnnichol.com and, now, he is considering writing a book on the Spitfire, focusing on the pilots. Our site, www.allspitfirepilots.org also presents a focus on the pilots and their stories from pre-war to their war efforts, and, beyond. John reached out to www.allspitfirepilots.org with the following ...
"I am currently researching a TV documentary and book about the Spitfire, and why, 75 years on, it still retains such an iconic place in the nation’s collective memory. I am already in touch with a number of squadron associations, but I am still seeking the “human” stories from the veterans themselves. This might be via living veterans who can talk about their experiences or from memoirs that deceased veterans wrote in the past. I’m also interested to hear from relatives of veterans who might be able to talk about their father/uncle’s etc. experiences and shed some light on the story.
The book / documentary will look at the human story of the aircraft throughout ... read more ...