Sunday, 17 June 2018

Life in the Rain...


Saturday Craig got in touch to go for a short pedal to stretch the legs.  With Motorbike racing and the annual Seacliff Horse Endurance ride on this weekend i would struggle to do an off road ride from HQ but managed a fun route that did nor interrupt  horses and  we rode some stuff you never see other tyre tracks on...


It was raining heavy when we left HQ/Returned leaving around NB when ok to film, so elsewhere the Go Pro was used for stills...


The Exmoor Ponies on NB law...



NB Observer Corps Monitoring Post... Bunker door welded shut...



Space Invaders...



Drem Airfield and M was out riding and we chatted a bit before heading as the skies darkened to the west...




Big clouds of rain grew closer as we spun the pedals back to HQ...



Spits of rain at our heels...


Made it home just as the heavens opened for the next hour or so we sat drinking hot tea feeling a bit smug we beat the rain back as it thudded off the lean too roof...


Here is some film from today, song is `Life in the Rain` by Quantic...


Rain Cycle; June 2018 from coastkid71 on Vimeo.

More soon..

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Spifires to Skylarks... a quick cycle around the former RAF Drem Airfield, and some of it`s history...






Quick cycle around the Peri (Perimeter) track of the former WW2 RAF Drem Airfield after work before the forecasted  gales and rain arrive, M was out on Jonny, her MRT (Muirfield Riding Therapy)  horse...




RAF Drem; 1939-1946...
The pic above on the track is quiet today, just the noise of skylarks overhead, in 1939 the station was home to two fighter Squadrons and a night fighter training facility and it would have been a busy place,
Spitfires on this very bend in 1939...


A patrol pass over, Gullane hill in the distance...


Planes were blessed with a service before going into action on the base, it`s true...

Pilots on standby...


During The Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940 many Squadrons passed through RAF Drem on R&R, flying patrols and scrambles against up here at the odd bomber with no fighter escorts must have been a breeze compared to the hetic relentless air war in the south of Britain, this is a pic of the remaining Ferdinanz Squadron, returning to the main battle down south none of these young men saw the end of 1940...


Crews pass time on standby playing chess...


The Parachute cafe, later dismantled and moved to Canty Bay to be used by the Scouts...


Pilots give notes on recent scramble..





Relaxing outside the cafe...



1939 Xmas menu...




This picture is early 1939, Before the evacuation of Dunkirk, after Dunkirk the planes were not painted half white/half black underneath...




Hurricanes taking off...

Local history...
I have always been interested in WW2 and esp the Battle of Britain and Spitfires and what happened here in East Lothian at the time.
As i grew up my dad would often mention that he used to go fishing with men who once flew Spitfires,
Then as an apprentice green keeper at Gullane Golf Club i would chat daily to elderly members who were Battle of Britain Veteran's,though they wouldn't talk about it unless you asked them. During the war one of them was based here at RAF Drem several times.
They would be very modest when you asked them about the war and would say they were just normal people who "did what they had to do" and "did their bit".
What there friends would then often tell you was of there bravery and medals won.

The Battle of Britain Stats...
If you do the sums, the 8 x .303 calibre machine guns were set to cross at 250 yards to provide the maximum damage, if a Spitfire was diving at approx 400 mph on a bomber at 200 mph then that 250 yards disappears very quickly...that's how close the fighting was...

I am nearly 47 soon and thinking back to my late teens i was a similar age to those young pilots then back in 1989 to what the Battle of Britain pilots would have been in 1940.
But i cant imagine myself doing at the age of 19 what those brave men - then just boys really did ...

What they did was quite an extraordinary feat of bravery, as they actually faced a near impossible task given the odds stacked against them.
They were often quickly trained flying Tiger Moths or Gladiator Bi planes during the summer months of 1940 with a quickening shortage of pilots often it was only 8 hours flying time then they would be posted to a fighter squadron and go on to fly Spitfires and Hurricanes. These fighter planes were capable of over 400 mph, this was in 1940, speeds then hard to believe possible.

They would fly these fighters into battle against armed German bomber crews which had escort fighter pilots high above having gained a height advantage as they crossed the channel and were ready to dive down out of the sun and ambush the RAF planes as they attacked the German bomber force,  and the pilots who were jumping them and shooting them down in worrying numbers were skilled pilots who were already battle hardened and experianced in air combat by there war in the Spainish Revolution where they backed and fought for the Franco uprising...

Not looking good for the RAF...
Out numbered at odds of 4-1, they had to learn very fast and many inexperienced pilots never made it back from there first combat,
1 in every 6 RAF pilots would be dead by the end of the summer of 1940 which is by the way Russian roulette odds.


A recommended read is Geoffrey Wellum`s biopic `First Light`...


Today`s date this blog pos is written, Geoffrey is one of only three remaining Battle of Britain veterans still alive...
The youngest surviving Battle of Britain Pilot, at just 18 years of age, Geoffrey flew in 92 Squadron.
Reading his book it is like sitting in the cockpit, and you imagine the sheer adrenaline, fear, and tragedy that was witnessed by all pilots on all sides...

The BBC made an excellent Documentary Drama of his Book for the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Available on DVD it is a very life like look at life during those dark days.
Here is a clip of his first experience of a scramble, and a very lucky escape...




Here because of them...
Another film...




I made a film a few years ago having found audio of former RAF pilots  being interviewed, mixed with old pictures, Battle of Britain footage and modern music combined  a then and now insight to the Airfield and a small glimpse into how important a part the people and this Airfield contributed to the east coast during those dark years...

Oh, at 6mins 40secs is the only confirmed footage shot at RAF Drem, a couple of seconds as a Hurricane rips up the airfield!...


RAF Drem, 70 Years On, Now & Then.... from coastkid71 on Vimeo.


Despite the odds..
Having been up flying in a two seat 1930`s  Spanish Bucker which once trained Luffwaffe pilots during the Spannish Cival war it was a dream come true and the dream of flight anf being up there as a young man must have been the ultimate thrill. I have read so many WW2 pilots accounts about the freedom of flying, and wht they thrived on that thrill, despite the odds...


Turning the tide of battle...
It is written that the Germans biggest blunder was ignoring what they thought was a basic British Radar system which would prove to be a brilliant system when combined with the Observer corps  watching and radioing  enemy numbers and directions to bases of plotters who could notify the needed squadrons to scramble and intercept, saving other squadrons to rest and re arm and repair ready for when needed... and switching bombing of airfields to London...


Drem Airfield Today...
One set of the Dispersal pens still survives, along with 4 of the 5 hangers and personal accommodation (now Fenton Barnes Retail Village) Machine gun defence pill boxes and air raid shelters are dotted around and the connecting perimeter track remains, the 3 grass runways returned to fields when the Airfield closed in 1946 ,The control tower is also gone though the Battle HQ remains in the hill beyond, it is now open for bats so no entry is allowed...


Hangers today...


And Night Fighter training building...


Ammunition stores...


Only remaining Dispersal pen, two spitfires sat here with air raid shelters and pill box defences for ground crew, this was taken 5 years ago, stables on top now but the buildings still remain...


Back in time again...
Ground crews re arm a Spitfire sitting in it`s Dispersal pen...


The base was on the front line for defence of Rosyth Navy base against bomber attacks from occupied Norway, and planes from RAF Drem were scrambled many times and the first enemy plane was shot down by Drem Spifires on October 16th 1939, King George arrived by Royal train to award medals,
The press gathering in this pic for the big day,  the Garleton Hills and monument in the distance...


King George and Dowding, Air Chief Commander of The Battle of Britain...


Today...
Look at the fungi on this old tree...



End of WW2...
1n 1946 German Majors arrived at Drem Airfield in a white painted Junkers plane, escorted in by two Squadrons of Spitfires to be driven to Edinburgh Castle to sign the unconditional surrender of occupied Norway...



Today...
So to today and the airfield is still full of volunteers working for a better cause,
The MRT volunteers help Disabled and disadvantaged young people get something more out of life,
M`s horse Jonny was being filmed for CBBC most of the afternoon before i turned up after work,
so he was feeling a bit tired after a busy day!...


More soon...

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Midweek Cycle; Sandy Hirst Point



Another dry day at work and afterwards i again went down to Tyninghame for an hours cycle,
Today on the other side of the salt marsh is Sandy Hirst Point, a spit of land out into Hedderwick Bay...









Big skies and light clouds drifting over in the easterly breeze,  the forecast is to change on Wednesday evening into Thursday, but today, now it was perfect, no one around and just the noise of the surf at John Muir Park to the east and Skylarks singing overhead...







Around the point and back along to the woods...





Fatbike fix done, and back home...


Some film, Song is `Waterfall` by The Stone Roses


Surly Pugsley Beachride; Sandy Hirst Point, June 2018 from coastkid71 on Vimeo.


More soon...