Every Which Way – the National Memorial to the Evacuation of children in Britain during WWII at the UK National Arboretum

By Jackie Daly

SET IN 150 ACRES DOTTED WITH 30,000 TREES, the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire, England makes it a unique place of discovery and contemplation. (1)

Its 330 memorials – more are constantly being added – provide a chance to honour many groups of people – military and civilian, professional and social groups and those bands of individuals simply thrown together by the circumstances they found themselves facing. (2)

On 25 July 2017 I and around three hundred others guests were honoured to be invited to the unveiling of ‘Every Which Way’ – or to give it it’s proper title, the National Memorial to the Evacuation of children in Britain during WWI – at the Arboretum.

 

A general view of the Memorial. Image © Jackie Daly 2017

A view of the figures. Image © Jackie Daly 2017

After years of fundraising the British Evacuee Association managed to raise enough funds to commission sculptor Maurice Blik PPRBS, FRSA (3) to create this distinctive sculpture.

This is what Maurice wrote in his booklet about the memorial:

‘I was on a flight from London to New York when I got chatting to the woman sitting next to me. She told me about the British Evacuees Association (BEA), (4) of which her friend was a member, and how they wanted to erect a memorial to mark their evacuation as children during WWII from their home towns and cities to the relative safety of the countryside.

I was not only captivated by this idea but also identified in many ways with the sense of bewilderment and displacement that many of these children felt at being torn from their parents and sent to live in unknown locations with strangers. It seemed as if fate had seated us together and you can imagine her surprise when I told her I was a sculptor. The rest is history as they say.

The title of the memorial was inspired by one of the members of the BEA who on seeing my initial scale model for the sculpture, exclaimed, ‘That’s it exactly – we were going every which way’.

I could not have imagined a more fitting title.

 

A close-up some of the figures – note the split luggage beside the little girl. Image © Jackie Daly 2017

With the design I hope to convey some of the anxiety and confusion felt by the child Evacuees.

This is not a straight forward line of children about to set off on a journey; hands and items of clothing are back to front and luggage is split open to symbolise families being torn apart.’

 

The Duke of Gloucester and Karen Follows, Manager of the British Evacuees Association meet some of the attendees after the unveiling ceremony. Image © Jackie Daly 2017

The memorial was unveiled by Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester and was filmed by British national television.

Although the memorial depicts children it also honours all though connected in the evacuation process – teachers, billeting officers, train and coach drivers and foster parents. (5)

It is located next to the Children’s Play Area at the Arboretum.

A few of the invited guests at the memorial unveiling at the National Arboretum. Jackie is third from the right, with fellow IWM volunteer Julie Underhay, second from the right, who is also a BEA trustee. Image © Jackie Daly 2017

 

SOURCES AND FURTHER INFORMATION

(1) http://www.thenma.org.uk/

(2) http://www.thenma.org.uk/whats-here/memorial-listing/

(3) http://www.mauriceblik.com/

(4) http://www.evacuees.org.uk/

(5) http://www.evacuees.org.uk/memorial.html

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With a little help from our friends – part 2: Operation Wildhorn III and the V2 missile

BY RICHARD MADDOX

THE FIRST PART this post looked briefly at the work of Frenchman Michel Hollard and his contribution to British Scientific and Technical Intelligence in understanding the V1 flying bomb, an example of which is in the Imperial War Museum in London. This post concentrates on the V2 weapon.

The story of the contribution made by Polish Home Army ((Armia Krajowa – the most well-known internal Polish resistance group) to the understanding and subsequent defeat of the German V1 and V2 weapon programmes is long and valiant.

For simplicity I will concentrate on just one important aspect, OPERATION WILDHORN III.

Let me start by saying that the story of Allies (particularly Britain) and Poland is still controversial in some quarters.

I know very little about the context – a few days in Warsaw doesn’t count in my view – and so I will simply say that there are no doubt many excellent resources both in print and on the internet that will put the cases of all concerned far better than I am able to.

The WILDHORN operations (also called MOSTY – meaning ‘bridges’ – in Polish) were a series of SOE Polish section sponsored flights to and from Poland to bring Home Army field commanders to London for meetings with the Polish Government in Exile. I believe there may have been a small amount of supplies or agents delivered but this was mainly handled by other means (known as RIPOSTE missions).

As a file at the UK National Archives shows (1), the first of the WILDHORN flights occurred in April 1944 after considerable difficulties gaining a suitable aircraft and a suitably trained crew.

Planning appeared to have started in late 1943 and an undated (but probably written in or before January 1944) document in the file lists the requirements for a landing area – frozen ground, snow no deeper 5 cm, a wind less than 10 mph – and a suggestion that it should be in the Lublin area. Security and ground operations are not detailed but ‘appear satisfactory’. The operation gained approval on 21 January with a request three days later for an aircraft to be assigned so that it could be completed in February.

Then there political problems outside the scope of this post. Suffice to say ‘discussions’ between Polish and British senior officers and centred around taking an aircraft off Special Duty operations (those connected with the Resistance) in France and sending and then basing it in Italy from where it would fly to Poland.

By early February it was clear that an RAF aircraft and crew from Britain could not be spared and it was suggested that a Polish crew be trained and an aircraft (a Lockheed Hudson light bomber and maritime patrol aircraft) be allocated from the Mediterranean Allied Air Force based in Italy.

From 14 March onwards a series of dates were proposed and cancelled for various reasons including the harsh weather.

V2 facility Peenemunde A © IWM (C 4782)

Test Stand VII at the Army Research Centre Peenemunde, Usedom Island, Germany. At the bottom centre (inside the elliptical earthwork) is a V2 rocket on its trailer and light anti-aircraft positions on top of the pre-launch assembly hall at upper right. Image © IWM (C4782). Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205022367

V2 facility Peenemunde 2 © IWM (C 4783)

The same area after heavy bombing attacks RAF Bomber Command in 1943. At the time this air reconnaissance image was taken (September 1944) the V2 programme had been moved to Poland. The arrows point to where the anti-aircraft guns were sited previously. Image © IWM, catalogue no C4783. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205023436

From 13 June 1944 London endured V2 attacks and there was an urgent need for as much intelligence on the missile as possible.

On 25 July it was agreed that V2 parts would be sent to London with senior Polish commanders and a Polish courier.

Having found a suitable landing ground, suitable crew and a Douglas Dakota aircraft from No. 267 Squadron RAF based in Italy all the elements were in place.

However fate was to intervene.

The landing ground (codenamed MOTYL – BUTTERFLY) was a boggy meadow, with substantial German forces nearby.

Although the aircraft landed and was quickly loaded for take-off with its human cargo and V2 material – missile parts (reported 25.000 including a new guidance system), drawings, photographs and analytical reports – it was found that the brakes were locked and the aircraft had sunk into the soft ground.

Frantic efforts were made to free the aircraft. German units were reported to be a mile (800 metres) away.

The passengers were made to get off and the V2 material unloaded.

Everyone – passengers and members of the Home Army ‘welcome team’ responsible for the aircraft landing loading and despatch – dug furiously. The crew prepared to burn their maps and other papers. Even the hydraulic lines to the brakes were cut to release the brakes.

Eventually, the hard work paid off. The aircraft was reloaded and wobbled into the air, just clearing a stone wall around 20 foot (7 metres) high.

With no hydraulic lines the reservoirs were filled with ‘liquid’ (accounts vary as to what this was) to ensure enough pressure to retract the undercarriage by hand and, having lost an hour from their schedule, they had to fly a direct route through an area known to be patrolled by German fighter aircraft.

They landed at Brindisi (on a runway being built) safely just before dark and after repairs the aircraft was flown to London via Morocco, arriving on 27 July (2).

There (according to R V Jones) the Polish courier – who spoke no English – made it apparent that he would only release his vital V2 parts to one of two Polish Officers he knew and trusted in London. In the meantime he threatened anyone who came near the parts with a knife

This obstacle was overcome when General Bor appeared ‘told our gallant Pole that it was alright for him to talk to us and show us his treasures’

The propulsion unit of a V2 missile being inspected amid damaged houses © IWM (HU 44973)

Damage caused by a V2 ballistic missile at Limehouse, East London. In the foreground, a man inspects the propulsion unit of the rocket. Image © IWM (HU 44973). Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205019013

Jones goes on to write that the Pole’s information – not just what he brought but what he had observed – was instrumental in understanding the way the missile was launched and flew (3)

SOURCES AND FURTHER INFORMATION

(1) File reference HS 4/183, UK National Archives viewed 1 April 2017

(2) https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2015/09/08/operation-most-iii/ – accessed 17 July 2017

(3) ‘Most Secret War’ by R V Jones, third edition May 1978, pages 438 – 439.

Rupert Shephard and his ‘Women in Industry’ series of paintings for the Ministry of Information, 1943

BY RICHARD MADDOX

BORN IN HIGHBURY, North London and educated in Swanage and Derbyshire, Rupert Norman Shephard would become a draughtsman and towards the end of the war an official War Artist.

In a three-part oral history online interview recorded in 1978 with IWM’s James Mellen (1) (who also interviewed a number of other artists active during the Second World War) he describes his early life, his artistic influences and how he would sketch workers on the factory floor after his day job as a draughtsman.

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Second World War First Aid Post, with Three St John Ambulance Brigade Men in a Domestic Setting by Rupert Shephard, oil on canvas, 1940. Collection of the Museum of the Order of St John.  Image from https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/first-aid-post-with-three-st-john-ambulance-brigade-men-in-a-domestic-interior-135514/search/venue:museum-of-the-order-of-st-john-6474/sort_by/object.lifecycle.creation.date.earliest/order/asc/page/4

At one time Shephard was a jig and engineering tool draughtsman at EMI in Hayes, Middlesex when the factory was engaged on war work manufacturing things like their Capacitance Altimeter fitted to the RAF bomber force for blind landings and low-level anti-shipping torpedo attacks (2).

The pressures of work and his artistic endeavours caused him a breakdown in 1943.

This however enabled him to concentrate on a new career as an official war artist, selling work to the War Artists Advisory Committee.

Established by the Ministry of Information part of its purpose was to ‘to draw up a list of artists qualified to record the war at home and abroad. … to advise on the selection of artists on this list for war purposes and on the arrangements for their employment’.

Approximately half of the 5,570 pieces purchased by the Committee are in the collection of the Imperial War Museums (3).

Shephard painted industrial scenes in Britain and amongst over work made a series of five paintings entitled ‘Women in Industry’ with a series in 1943 of tasks in traditional factory settings.

Three of these – ‘A Girl Feeding an Automatic Machine’, ‘A Girl Tending an Automatic Machine’, and ‘Drilling and Milling’ – are in the Imperial War Museums’ collection. Two other paintings – ‘Three Women Drillings’ and ‘Girls Drilling’ – complete the 1943 series.

Papers in the IWM Collection indicate that he received 30 guineas – a guinea being one pound and one shilling sterling, with 20 shillings making a pound – for the ‘Women in Industry’ series (4).

He also painted a number of works showing workers in both aircraft manufacturing and repair factories.

A painting entitled ‘A Nose section after Repair: Girls fitting supports to take the bomb aimer’s window’ – was purchased for 15 guineas on its own. It shows female workers fitting the seal of the bomb aimers’ window to the the bottom of the nose blister of a  Lancaster bomber.

It is possible that this was at the A V Roe (Avro – makers of the Lancaster) repair facility at RAF Bracebridge Heath, a former First World War airfield near Lincoln (5) (6) .

A Nose section after Repair: Girls fitting supports to take the bomb aimer’s window. IWM catalogue reference Art LD 4141

On one of the images of Lancasters under repair by Shephard in the RAF Museum’s art collection the No. 50 Squadron RAF code ‘VN’ can be seen.

Shephard, Rupert, 1909-1992; Lancaster Fuselage Section

Shephard, Rupert; Lancaster Fuselage Section; Royal Air Force Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/lancaster-fuselage-section-136073

The painting below (‘Filming a Practice Launching of a Rubber Dinghy in a Training Pond’ in the Imperial War Museums IWM Catalogue LD 4647) was made in May 1944.

It appears to show an instructional training film for Lancaster crews being made. Of interest is the fact that the bomber is incomplete (missing its tail unit) and also the line of figures behind the camera crew who appear to be operating a wave-making device.

‘Filming a Practice Launching of a Rubber Dinghy in a Training Pond’ in the Imperial War Museums’ collection, IWM catalogue reference Art LD 4647. Image from Art UK website ( https://www.artuk.org/discover/artworks/filming-a-practice-launching-of-a-rubber-dinghy-in-a-training-pond-7369/search/actor:shephard-rupert-19091992/page/1/view_as/grid )

After the war Rupert married and moved to South Africa with his South African wife where he continued to paint. Returning to the UK in 1962 he turned his attention to producing finely textured lino cut prints, often of London scenes.

The River Lea (1975) part of the series “London, The Passing Scene.” Image from Gwen Hughes Fine art ( http://gwenhughesart.co.uk/artworks/the-river-lea/ )

His son Ben, a military and medical historian, worked on the well-known 1973 British television documentary series ‘The World at War’ (7).

SOURCES:

(1) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80003184 IWM catalogue reference 3198 – retrieved 18 July 2017

(2) http://www.emiarchivetrust.org/capacitance-altimeter/ – retrieved 18 July 2017

(3) http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-secret-purpose-of-the-war-artists-advisory-committee – retrieved 18 July 2017

(4) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1050001072  IWM catalogue reference ART/WA2/03/228 – retrieved 18 July 2017

(5) http://www.raf-lincolnshire.info/bracebridgeheath/bracebridgeheath.htm – retrieved 18 July 2017

(6) http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1510959&sort=4&search=all&criteria=Bracebridge&rational=q&recordsperpage=30 – retrieved 18 July 2017

(7) https://web.archive.org/web/20070923050354/http://ccw.politics.ox.ac.uk/people/bios/shephard.asp – retrieved 18 July 2017

A little-known memorial a few hundred metres from Imperial War Museums’ Churchill War Rooms

BY RICHARD MADDOX

GIVEN ITS LOCATION in the heart of central London, Imperial War Museums’ Churchill War Rooms and Museum – to give its full title – is (unsurprisingly) surrounded by monuments and memorials.

Although only a short walk from CWR on Horse Guards Parade – the place where the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony takes place – is the little known and often ignored Royal Naval Division Memorial Fountain, by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Lutyens was an architect responsible for a variety of building, bridges and war memorials in France, India, Ireland and the United Kingdom, where he is best known for the Cenotaph on near-by Whitehall, the place where Britain’s annual commemoration of its war dead is held.

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The Royal Naval Division Memorial before the Admiralty Citadel was constructed. Image by Horace Nicholls, © IWM (Q 45787)

His design produced an elegant and most ‘unmilitary’ memorial at a time when realistic and heroic statues of ‘Tommies’ were fashionable.

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“Your family will never forget you or your sacrifice…” A family tribute a century later. Image © R Maddox 2017.

On a recent wet and windy visit I found a small number of fading tributes commemorating (amongst others) Lieutenant the Honourable Vere Sidney Tudor Harmsworth who died on 13 November 1916, the first day of the Battle of Ancre and James McDonald a member of the Royal Naval Reserve who became a machine gunner.

Having previously served in the Royal Navy until a hearing problem caused him to be discharged in May 1915, Lieutenant Harmsworth volunteered for the Division and after capture in Antwerp escaped to serve at Gallipoli and then on the Western Front (1).

His father (later Lord Rothermere) later funded the 63rd Royal Naval Division memorial in Beaucourt, on the bank of the Ancre river in France (2).

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The faded Cross of Remembrance for William McDonald, a resident of Deptford, south London. Image © R Maddox 2017.

The faded Cross of Remembrance honours machine gunner Able Seaman James McDonald.

Serving with 189 Machine Gun Company and the Royal Naval Division’s Hawke Battalion, he would die of wounds on 29 October 1917.

Married to Susan Edith McDonald, they lived in Deptford, south London around six miles (10km) away (3).

Winston Churchill (who had formed the Division in 1914) unveiled the monument on 25 April 1925, the tenth anniversary of the Gallipoli landings (4).

Originally situated in its present location, next to the Old Admiralty Building (OAB) it was disassembled and placed in storage – leaving only its plinth in place – to enable the construction of the adjacent Admiralty Citadel, designed as an operations centre. In the event of a German invasion it would become a strongpoint for the defence of this historic and very important part of London.

Later it became a Royal Navy communications centre.

In 1952 the stored fountain pieces were installed at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, south east London (and not far from where James McDonald had lived).

After the Royal Navy left the site, the memorial returned in 2003 and re-erected on Horse Guards Parade (5) – although now looking somewhat squeezed between the OAB and the massive fortress-like Citadel.

Churchill was very appreciative of this example of Lutyens’ work. In his unveiling address he commented:

“Everyone, I think, must admire the grace & simplicity of this Fountain, which the genius of Lutyens has designed. The site is also well chosen. Here, under the shadow of the Admiralty building, where, 11 years ago, the Royal Naval Division was called into martial life, this monument now records their fame and preserves their memory… Doubts and disillusions may be answered by the sure assertion that the sacrifice of these men was not made in vain. And this Fountain to the memory of the Royal Naval Division will give forth not only the waters of honour, but the waters of healing and the waters of hope (5).

His thoughts on the Citadel were less complimentary, calling it:
“That vast monstrosity which weighs on the Horse Guards Parade” (6).

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A view of the Citadel taken on 18 May 1945. Image by Lieutenant C J Ware, official Royal Navy photographer. The building has been since covered in ivy to soften its appearance. © IWM (A 28702)

 

More details about the Memorial and the Royal Naval Division are available at the link below: https://greatwarlondon.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/royal-naval-division-memorial/ – Retrieved 27 July 2017

SOURCES:

(1) http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2016/november/07/161107-cadet-to-be-remembered-on-the-100th-anniversay-of-his-death – Retrieved 27 July 2017

(2) http://www.webmatters.net/txtpat/?id=191 – Retrieved 27 July 2017

(3) http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/153221/McDONALD,%20JAMES – Retrieved 27 July 2017

(4) https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1392454 – Retrieved 27 July 2017

(5) https://c20society.org.uk/war-memorials/london-royal-naval-division-memorial-fountain/ – Retrieved 27 July 2017

(6)  http://www.churchill-society-london.org.uk/chtruste.htm – Retrieved 27 July 2017

 

 

Beatrice Shilling and how she helped RAF pilots to fight another day

BY RICHARD MADDOX

BEATRICE SHILLING was born into a middle-class family in Waterlooville near Portsmouth in Hampshire, England in 1909 before moving with her family to Surrey in 1914.

Deciding in her early teens that she wanted to be an engineer, Beatrice left school and became an apprentice with Margaret Partridge who ran an electrical engineering company. Her company had a number of contracts with local authorities installing both domestic and industrial wiring and generators. It became apparent that her apprentice had a great talent for engineering (1).

Margarete was a member of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and would become its president for 1944 – 1945(2). The Society was formed in 1919 to press for women to continue to work in industry (as they had done during the First World War) and ultimately to be regarded as equal to their male counter parts.

In 1929 after three year of working with and being mentored by Margaret and after WES had helped her get her applied mathematics to the required level and given her an interest-free loan for her studies, Beatrice applied to the Victoria University in Manchester.

She was one of two women enrolling on the Electrical Engineering degree course that year – the first time the course had been open to women. She would graduate with honours in 1932 and do a post-graduate MSc in Mechanical Engineering the following year. (3)

Beatrice became a research assistant to Dr G F Mucklow in 1934, helping with his work concerning supercharging single-cylinder engines.

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Beatrice in a publicity photograph used in the 1935 Norton catalogue. Image © Anne and Dennis Lock via https://www.raf.mod.uk/news/archive/the-b-in-the-rafs-bonnet-18082015.

Before going to university she had ridden and maintained her own motorcycle. At Victoria University she modified a Norton M30 500cc motorcycle by adding a supercharger and gained a Gold Star award for lapping the Brooklands motor racing circuit in Surrey at 106 miles an hour.

Joining the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) on 25 April 1936 as a Technical Author, she would spend six months in the Technical Publications Department before transfering to the Carburettor Section of the Engine Experimental Department. (4)

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Dark days ahead; Spitfires in Flight. Image © R Maddox 2017

As the RAF went into sustained combat operations in May 1940 a problem with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine equipping their latest fighters emerged.

The designers of the engine – fitted to both the early marks of Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire aircraft – had decided to use a carburettor rather than fuel injection as their German counterparts at Daimler Benz had done for the engine powering both the Messerschmitt bf 109 and Messerschmitt bf 110 fighters.

Carburettors are a vital component that ensures that fuel and air are mixed and delivered to the engine’s combustion chambers to provide optimum performance. Fuel injection does the same task but in a different way.

This design choice meant that an increase in the fuel/air density of carburettor-fed engines as opposed to their fuel injector counterparts resulting in a higher horse power to weight ratio.

However it also meant that when diving in combat the engine of the British fighters could misfire and cut out under negative gravitation as fuel pushed the carburettor needle closed. If the dive was continued then the pressure of the fuel could force the needle open and the fuel flood the engine’s combustion chambers.

Although the RAF pilots had a ‘work round’ of half rolling into the dive it was clear that a more effective solution was needed so they could fully utilise their aircraft’s potential.

Beatrice designed a restrictor plate – looking similar to a metal washer – that prevented flooding.  This together with modifications to the needle and an improvement to the float chamber to prevented the fuel and float from surging under negative gravity helped alleviate the problem.

Miss Shilling married George Naylor, an RAE mathematician (and later a pilot with RAF Bomber Command) September 1938. It is said that she would only accept his proposal after he too had lapped Brooklands racing circuit at a speed greater than 100 miles an hour!

She continued working at RAE on a variety of projects before retiring in 1969 as Head of Engineering Research Division.

IMG_0630-002-e1488975405722

Beatrice receiving her Honorary Doctorate at Surrey University in December 1969.
Image from University of Surrey Archives & Special Collections Blog.

Over the course of her career she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Surrey University (5), was a Chartered Engineer as well as being a member of WES and the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

For her wartime work she was awarded an OBE in 1947.

Away from work she and George continued to race both motorcycles and later cars until health problems intervened. Then they took up target shooting.

She died in 1990 and was survived by her husband for another six years.

SOURCES:

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Engineering_Society retrieved 12 July 2017
(2) https://thrustvector.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/beatrice-shilling/ retrieved 12 July 2017
(3) https://ww2aircraft.net/forum/threads/spitfire-engine-failure-in-dive.12768/ retrieved 12 July 2017
(4) https://www.raf.mod.uk/news/archive/the-b-in-the-rafs-bonnet-18082015 retrieved 12 July 2017
(5) http://www.wes.org.uk/content/history/presidents-past-present retrieved 12 July 2017
(6) https://blogs.surrey.ac.uk/archives/2017/03/08/international-womens-day-the-inspirational-beatrice-shilling-2/ retrieved 12 July 2017