Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Turning Point in the Battle of Britain

Sunday 15th September, although nobody knew it at the time, was to be the defining day of the Battle of Britain. The early mist slowly cleared and although the light cumulus cloud was enough to produce a little rain in places, visibility remained good, with a gentle westerly wind that moved round to northwest as the day advanced.
At around 11.30 Göring launched the first wave of his morning attack of 100 or so aircraft, shortly to be followed by a further 150. It was a formidable force made up of Dornier Do 17s and Do 215s, escorted by Messerschmitt Bf 109s. They were flying at various heights between 15,000 feet and 26,000 feet.
Defenders were scrambled and for about 45 minutes a fierce  battle raged over east Kent and London. Even so, about 100 enemy bombers reached south and east London, with some actually being intercepted over the centre. Sixteen squadrons of 11 Group were initially involved, closely followed by five squadrons from 12 Group. Squadrons from 10 Group were also called in.
242 Squadron was ordered off from Coltishall at precisely 11.22 and flew down to Duxford, where according to the plan, they formed up with 310, 302, 19 and 611 Squadrons and headed south towards the action. For once the timing was right and they were in an ideal position with respect to height and the position of the sun.
Douglas led the Wing to patrol a flexible area over Gravesend. The three Hurricane squadrons, 242, 310 and 302 flew at around 25,000 feet, ready to meet the bombers, while the two Spitfire squadrons, 10 and 611, were a bit higher at between 26,000 and 27,000 feet, ready to deal with the fighters.
In a space between noon and 12.30, a total of between 150 and 200 individual combats took place in an area of sky roughly 8 miles long, 38 miles broad and between 4 and 6 miles high.
It has to be remembered these combats often took place at speeds of between 300 and 400 miles an hour. An enemy plane might have been intercepted over Hammersmith and destroyed over Dungeness. Many combats went as far as the French coast. Sgt J A Potter of 19 Squadron was involved in just such a chase, but unfortunately for him, having got that far he was shot down and ended up as a POW.
Douglas later commented that: “at one time you could see planes all over the place and the sky seemed full of parachutes. It was sudden death that morning for our fighters shot them to blazes”.
The 56 fighters of the Duxford Wing returned to base having claimed a total of 26 enemy aircraft destroyed, plus 8 probables and 2 damaged. There was hardly time to get their aircraft refuelled and grab a quick sandwich before they were ordered off again at 12 minutes past 2. Although the same five squadrons were involved, this time there were only 49 fighters rather than 56.

from "Douglas Bader" by Michael Evans
Get your copy HERE

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

NEW BOOK - The Battle of Towton

A book about the largest battle ever fought on English soil - the Battle of Towton, one of the key turning points in the Wars of the Roses. .
The murderous Wars of the Roses had already seen dukes, earls, lords and thousands of commoners butchered as two branches of the royal family struggled to gain firm control of the crown. The struggle came to a head at Towton, Yorkshire, where Edward Duke of York with 30,000 men faced Henry Duke of Somerset with 35,000. The battle that followed proved to be especially vicious as scores were settled and blood flowed like rivers. The result determined England’s history for a generation.
This book brings an exciting new look to the Wars of the Roses. The course of the campaign is given, but the emphasis is on the Battle itself and the men who fought there. There are detailed analyses of weapons, tactics and strategies, tactical diagrams explain how the troops formed up and moved, and a study of the commanders. The course of the battle is followed with the aid of maps, relating to the ground today. The aftermath of the battle, its effects and importance to the progress of the war are then described.
The “Bretwalda Battles” series has been running with increasing success as printed books and as ebooks for five years.

Chapter 1 The Wars of the Roses
Chapter 2 Leaders at Towton
Chapter 3 Men, Weapons and Tactics
Chapter 4 The Battle of Towton - First Day
Chapter 5 The Battle of Towton - Second Day
Chapter 6 Aftermath

About the Author
Leonard James is an author of military books. He comes from a military family that has fought in every major war since at least the Crimean War, and probably before that. His forebears were mostly cavalrymen, though his father served in the RAF. Leonard has made a particular study of battlefields in Britain, walking over dozens of them to get an eye for ground. He has also handled genuine and replica weapons to better understand the use of pre-modern weapons and the men who wielded them.

Get your copy HERE

Monday, 15 December 2014

Douglas Bader tries to get his squadron equipped

Warrant Officer Bernard West had been engineering officer of 242 and Douglas decided to keep him. He sensed that Mr West, as he always called him, would be the linchpin and indispensable prop on which to build. West on the other hand knew that the relationship with his squadron commander must be based on total understanding and regard. In the same way that to Douglas his metal legs were something of an irrelevance, to Mr West the important things about Douglas were his attitude and his service credentials.
Bernard West was fiercely loyal to his squadron and he knew that somebody was going to have to sort it out and establish morale. He realised that Douglas would be an exacting and uncompromising commander, but was prepared to support him 250%. Something that Mr West realised from the start was that there would be big trouble if he didn't get 242's aircraft strength and serviceability on the top line,
The problems were immediate. The squadron had eighteen brand new Hurricane MkIs on its strength, but no spare parts and no proper sets of tools to work with. When Mr West reported this situation to Douglas the reaction was just as he predicted that it would be. In modern parlance Douglas "went ballistic".
He sent off the now famous signal to group headquarters, with a copy to Fighter Command HQ: "242 Squadron now operational as regards pilots but non-operational, repeat, non-operational as regards equipment."
It was only after he had sent the signals that he told his outraged station commander what he had done. Normal practice would have been to ask another squadron to lend a hand, but Douglas was not like that. This was his squadron and as far as he was concerned his needs were more important than any other squadron that might be waiting further up the line.
The response from Fighter Command came the same day. A squadron leader in charge of equipment phoned to argue that there were shortages in many units and 242 ought to borrow what was needed from other squadrons. Something of a shouting match developed that resulted in both phones being slammed down.
The AOC flew down to Coltishall to try and smooth things over and agreed to see what could be done. Before anything could be done Douglas received a summons to Fighter Command HQ at Bentley Priory for an interview with the C-in-C himself, Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding.
This could have meant the end of a promising career for Douglas, but although the C-in-C made it clear that he did not think much of Douglas’s signal, what really irked him was the supply officer's assertion that he, Dowding, would be furious at what Douglas had done. Dowding did not take kindly to other people predicting how he would or would not react, least of all a comparatively junior officer.
The outcome was that the offending squadron leader lost his job at Fighter Command, as did the station equipment officer at Coltishall. 242 Squadron received its requested equipment within 48 hours and became fully operational on 9th July 1940. 

From "Douglas Bader" by Michael Evans

Sunday, 14 December 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW -Dr Lee Rotherham talks about The Discerning Gentleman's Guidebook to Britain's American Colonies


Get your copy HERE

Product Description

The Past, as they say, is Another Country. Now there is a guide book to North America as it was during Revolutionary Times. Written by Dr Lee Rotherham this book tells the modern reader everything they would need to know when visiting North America 250 years ago.
Written as if it were a guide book to be used by a visiting European, and illustrated, this book is the essential guidebook to Revolutionary America.
Satisfied user Charles James Fox says “A gentleman is taught never to run. He might make an exception when pursued by a band of Cree warriors after his scalp. And why should you be wary of accepting an invitation to a tea party in Boston, why might you want to find some fur; why are the rebel colonies rebelling; why should you watch your watch when you meet George Washington, and just what is the correct etiquette for using a dessert spoon in a log cabin? The essential visitor’s guide.”
So this handbook is part survival guide, part tome to assist in cultural acclimatisation, part aide-memoire to help manage expectations in what remains a frontier land.
The book contains added War of 1812 bicentenary flavouring and is being launched to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the writing of “The Star Spangled Banner”.

Foreword by Charles James Fox
An Introduction for Tourists
Chapter 1 - Planning Your Visit
Chapter 2 - The Politics of Revolt
Chapter 3 - Information for Business Visitors
Chapter 4 - Culture and Social Mores
Chapter 5 - The Revolution at a Glance
Chapter 6 - Meet and Greet
Chapter 7 - Where to Visit
Appendix 1 - Pocket Timeline
Appendix 2 - A Word Before You Leave
Appendix 3 - Acknowledgements and Further Study
About the Author

About the Author
Dr Lee Rotherham is an historian with two postgraduate degrees on Québec. His survival skills were honed by idly wandering around Montréal during its worst winter on record. An army reservist, it’s thus appropriate that from his dealings with the Canadian Armed Forces he is a Member of the Order of Good Cheer/L’Ordre du Bon Temps. This is a Nova Scotia fraternity, originally set up by Samuel de Champlain, which commemorates the terrible winters of the first colonists and the social environment that got them through it. With beer, his accent betrays an alarming French Canadian twang.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

August 1939 - Douglas Bader tries to get back into the RAF

Parallel to all this was the increase in the military might of Germany and as international tensions mounted, Douglas began to badger just about everyone he knew who could have the slightest influence in getting him reinstated in the RAF and back to flying again.
A great ally was his old friend Geoffrey Stephenson, who by now was a staff officer at Adastral House, home of the Air Ministry in London's Kingsway. Stephenson beavered away for Douglas behind the scenes and was a great help.
Thelma was dead against all this. She was horrified at the possibility of Douglas being shot down and trapped in a crashing aircraft because of his legs. Thelma's mother agreed with her. To her, what her dogmatic and aggressive son-in-law was proposing to do was both unnecessary and unreasonable. All that it was doing was causing Thelma endless turmoil and distress.
Douglas was resolute. He had always believed that if you wanted something badly enough, the way to get it was to go right to the top so he wrote to the Air Member for Personnel, Air Marshal Charles Portal.
On 31st August, days before the outbreak of war, Portal wrote a personal reply to Douglas. Although he told Douglas he was too busy to see him and that he was not able to employ him at the present time, in the event of war a new situation would arise and Douglas would almost certainly be used in a flying capacity, provided the doctors agreed.  
Although positive, in a guarded sort of way, this was still not enough for Douglas. What he was looking for was immediate acceptance and his next target was Air Vice-Marshall Fredrick Halahan, his old commandant from Cranwell. Halahan obviously remembered Douglas and wrote to the head of the medical board at the Air Ministry saying that in his opinion Bader was the sort of officer the service needed and if found fit, apart from his legs, he should immediately be sent to the Central Flying School and given a chance to prove himself.

from "Douglas Bader" by Michael Evans

Get your copy HERE

Friday, 12 December 2014

NEW EBOOK - The Road to Freedom by Gerard Batten MEP

As Britain moves towards exit from the European Union, the author warns of a trap laid by the EU and how to avoid it. “The route to Brexit is a Gordian Knot of a problem that requires an Alexandrian solution,” he writes.
Brexit (British Exit) from the EU is moving up the political agenda, but few have looked at the mechanism by which it might be achieved and the problems involved.
The European Union’s process of ‘ever closer union’ is fashioned like the jaws of a shark. The teeth slant backwards. Once inside the mouth the only route is onwards down the gullet to digestion. Membership of the EU has been deliberately constructed over five decades and six treaties in order to make exit from the EU near impossible. It is a Gordian Knot of a problem that requires an Alexandrian solution.
Article 50 is designed to put the EU in a strong position to pressurise the would-be, leaving nation into accepting their terms of exit. This detrimental dog’s breakfast is hardly likely to be what the electorate have in mind when they vote in a referendum to leave the EU. Once the decision has been made then it is better to deliver the Alexandrian blow rather than endlessly fiddle with the strands.
In this book senior UKIP MEP Gerard Batten shows how the sword should be wielded to cut the Gordian Knot.

Foreword by Professor Tim Congdon

1. Introduction
2. The Article 50 trap
3. The problem of ‘vested rights’
4. The legal basis of unconditional withdrawal
5. Historic precedents
6. The exit plan
7. The transitional period
8. Conclusion
Appendix: ‘GSP Plus’ list of international conventions

About the Author

Gerard Batten was a member of the Anti-Federalist League 1992-1993 and a founder member of the UK Independence Party in 1993. He was the Party’s European Election Organiser in 1994 and the first Party Secretary (1994-1997). He has served on the UKIP National Executive Committee at different times. He has fought eleven different election campaigns for the Party over the years.

He was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for London in 2004 and re-elected in 2009 and in 2014. He has written extensively on such subjects as Immigration, the Cost of the European Union, and the European Arrest Warranty and the creation of a European system of criminal law.


This book is also available as a paperback. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Douglas Bader - the Later Years

It was golf that brought Douglas to his second wife. He had met Joan Murray some years before when they were partnered in a golfing competition organised in support of the British Limbless Ex-Serviceman's Association. She had taken the place of Douglas’s original partner who had to drop out.Joan and Douglas were married quietly on 3rd January 1963 in a church near Coventry. The vicar, the Reverend Tom Knight, was yet another of Douglas’s friends. In a former life Tom Knight had been a Group Captain in charge of a bomber station. Like Douglas, Joan had a great interest in helping people with disabilities. In addition to her involvement with the British Limbless Ex-Serviceman's Association, she was also one of the original volunteer supporters of Riding for the Disabled, of which Douglas was an honorary life president.
Following their marriage Douglas and Joan received countless invitations to speak and to attend events. They continued to fulfil engagements all over the world although long journeys were now made by commercial airliners and not by private aircraft. In most cases the main purpose of their journey was to assist in the cause of the disabled and they continued to campaign vigorously for people with disabilities. Douglas was a perfect example of how a disability could be overcome and both knew that by meeting people with disabilities he could plainly demonstrate what was possible.
In June 1976 Douglas received a knighthood for his services to disabled people. This could have been a great embarrassment, because protocol dictated that one had to kneel while being dubbed with the sword. Douglas knew that this would be a recipe for disaster because he would certainly fall flat on his face. As a result he was given special dispensation from the Queen to receive his knighthood standing up.
Other awards were to follow.  Despite his charity work Douglas still found time to maintain his interest in aviation and in 1977 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

From "Douglas Bader" by Michael Evans