This came through the post today. It’s nice to know the post is still working, as I am still waiting for a parcel from two weeks ago.
It’s an RAF Eagle made from perspex (or lucite or plexiglass if you prefer). This is typical WW2 work – they didn’t have any perspex in the Great War. Well, I’m fairly sure they didn’t. It was first developed in the nineteenth century but seems to have been commercially available from the 1930s.
Traditionally it’s always said to be from aircraft windows, and it’s true that it is mainly made up in ways that reflect its use by the RAF. Apart from the availability of perspex there was also access to workshops. It’s a myth that “trench art” was made in the trenches. When you examine the facts you’ll see a lot was made after the war and made by people with access to decent tools. And, of course, when you look at eBay, you can see that a lot of it looks like it has been made in the last ten years.
We bought an accumulation of ephemera last week from the family of a DFC winner, Flt Lt Charles Stein. He flew in Wellington bombers with 38 Squadron in Malta and North Africa. They were, at one point, converted to carry torpedoes, and had some important successes in the Desert campaign. In this role they were known as “Torpingtons”.
His DFC was awarded for his part in a successful torpedo attack on an Italian tanker bringing fuel to Rommel’s Afrika Corps. (See London Gazette 5th February 1943 – Pilot Officer Charles Lourie STEIN (131139), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 38 Squadron).
As a result of this, and several other attacks, the Afrika Korps eventually ground to a halt when the Panzers and Luftwaffe ran out of fuel.
We have a selection of propaganda leaflets, maps and other bits and pieces that he accumulated during his flying days.
Wellington crew – 38 Squadron
He’s one of the young men in this photograph. Five of them wrote their details on the back – at least three, possibly four, didn’t make it. They were, I think, an earlier crew than the one he won his DFC with, and died in several different actions.
Three were killed on operations with 38 Squadron, one was probably killed with another squadron (there aren’t quite enough details to confirm this), and I can’t read the name of the final man.
Stein himself ended up in hospital with diphtheria after winning the DFC and wrote to his parents with the news while he was still in hospital. While he was there his crew was posted as missing when they failed to return from a mission. As there are no reports of enemy action that night it is likely they suffered engine failure and went down in the sea. Or, as they flew low searching for shipping, it’s possible they just flew into the sea.
According to the details we were given, Mr Stein went on to have a long and happy life, successful both in business and in bringing up a family. One child became an academic, one a professional violinist and the third worked in fashion. It makes you wonder what the other aircrew could have done if they’d been given a chance.
And then there are the other questions. If he’d been with them would he have died? Or would his experience have helped the crew survive?
His main regret, according to his daughter, was that he wasn’t allowed to keep the jacket he was wearing in the photograph.
We didn’t have much to do in the way of packing parcels this morning, or much activity from customers, so I was able to continue with the soul-crushing task of compiling a drop-down menu of Topical Times football cards for the eBay shop.
They aren’t like normal cards, which had to fit in a cigarette packet or pack of gum, these were given away with a magazine. The ones I did this morning are the miniature size – as wide as a cigarette card but about twice as high. This makes them difficult to photograph efficiently as they need cropping whichever way you do them. They are also in black and white, which makes them look very similar – I’m used to a world where football shirts come in different colours, not just black, white and grey.
Having said that, they had better names in 1938.
James Argue – Chelsea FC
Sam Barkas – Manchester City
There were five Barkas brothers, all professional footballers. Sam and his cousin Tommy Felton both played for England.
We were lucky during the week when a lady rang up with a few things to sell – I checked if she had anything else and was able to buy some WW2 propaganda leaflets and wartime maps. They had belonged to her late father. but she was (quite rightly) keeping his DFC and other medals. More of this later.
Towards the end of the afternoon we had a number of sales, which we packed ready for Monday morning.
I scanned some of the propaganda leaflets ready for auction next week. This, though tatty, is probably the best of the lot – a magnificently evil Nazi spider with Hitler’s face.
WW2 propaganda leaflet
My Greek was weak in the 1970s when I actually made a serious effort. It’s worse now.
I’m still good at sticking stamps on envelopes though, as you can see here.
£3.95 – absolute bargain!
History, nature, Christmas, royalty – it’s not an envelope, it’s an education. The Winston Churchill stamp provides balance to the Nazi spider.
We went to Landguard Point while were were in East Anglia earlier in the week. We were in Felixstowe saw the sign and in our normal holiday mode simply followed it. We follow a lot of random signs.
Sometimes you find something interesting, and sometimes you find a sun-blasted shingle bank with a variety of marginally interesting things to see.
War Memorial – Landguard Point
The aeroplane in question was a Handley-Page Hampden which flew into a barrage balloon cable en route between RAF Waddington and Emmerich in Germany.
HMS Beehive was a stone frigate, as the Navy calls them. As you can see from the plaque it was a busy place.
I’ve always thought that the contribution of the Coastal Forces has been largely forgotten over the years. Peter Scott is mainly remembered for his work with birds rather than for his time with coastal forces in the war, whilst Patrick Troughton is mainly remembered for playing Dr Who.
If they’d flown aeroplanes everyone would remember them. The same goes for Robert Hichens. He’s a very interesting man when you read his life story but does anyone remember him? He’s buried in Felixstowe, but I didn’t realise that until I was researching the link or I’d have taken a picture for the blog.