William Gerry

This is another exploration of the life of a man commemorated on the cenotaph in the churchyard of St James, Ogley Hay.  I chose this name simply because it seemed unusual for the area, but his story did turn out to be unusual.

Ogley Hay Cenotaph (south face)

William Gerry was a career soldier, but there are things missing from the records.  This is what I have found out so far. Continue reading “William Gerry”

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George Dorsett (in memoriam)

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St James, Ogley Hay, south side, 2016.

In just one month’s time we will be remembering the dead from two world wars and other conflicts.  Here is another of my humble efforts to find out about those commemorated on the war memorial that stands in the churchyard to St James, Ogley Hay, in my home town of Brownhills in the West Midlands. Continue reading “George Dorsett (in memoriam)”

Worcester

Last week I stayed at Summerfield, just outside Kidderminster.  On Wednesday I doubled up boat-hunting with a trip to Worcester.  Here are few pictures of the cathedral and a few other things that caught my eye.

My main objective was Diglis Basin, but as I approached the cathedral the rain began.  But first, one of the city’s famous residents. Continue reading “Worcester”

Homage to Sugar

Today’s phonetic alphabet goes … Romeo, Sierra, Tango, but in the 1940s S was for Sugar.  In this post S-Sugar is a Lancaster bomber with a long list of raids.  My connection is that my uncle, Leading Aircraftman Frank Dennis, serviced the electrics and instruments on this very aircraft.  I blogged about this in Sugar Survives!.

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Lancaster bomber S-Sugar

I prefer this dark, sinister and menacing image of a night-time assassin, but a bit more detail can be seen in the next, adjusted image.  In the hangar the lighting is quite low and the underside in shadow, as it would have been when setting off on a raid, with only starlight or non-full moonlight.  The people serve to show just what a monster this was.  The wingspan was 102 ft (31 metres).

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Lancaster S-Sugar, brighter.

Uncle Frank never mentioned Grand Slam, so I suspect he never saw one, as it was expensive and used sparingly on the most difficult targets – see board below.

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Grand Slam. Barnes Wallis designed this 22,000 lb “earthquake” bomb to bury itself and destroy foundations of large structures.
Lancaster
Information board about Avro Lancaster.
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Lancaster bomb bay with blockbuster bomb, at 12,000 lb, also designed by Barnes Wallis.

 

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S-Sugar, scale and unit markings.
Lancaster S board
S-Sugar, brief history, information board.

Transcription

In its long career this Lancaster carried two sets of unit markings and three different designs of unofficial nose art work. These drawings show the aircraft in No. 83 Squadron markings as Q-Queenie and No. 467 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force as ‘S-Sugar’. The photographs illustrate the nose art work.

Whilst with No. 83 Squadron the aircraft carried a painting depicting a devil with the words “Devils of the Air”. On moving to No. 467 Squadron RAAF, ‘Q-Queenie’ was recoded ‘S-Sugar’ and received a fresh nose decoration of a kneeling nude supporting a bomb. Finally, whilst based at Waddington, it acquired the bomb-log and Goering’s foolishly extravagant claim.

Lancaster S Goering (480x353)
“No enemy plane will fly over the Reich territory”.  Herman Goering.

Sadly, the 467 Squadron badge is not on display, and although I reproduce the famous 617 “Dambusters” Squadron badge below, there is no connection, except the “Lanc”.

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Badge for 617 “Dambusters” Squadron.  Apres moi le deluge.

Clearly, the RAF Museum at Hendon is not just about this one aircraft.  The exhibits are well presented, with lots of explanatory material, and it is well worth a visit.  Entry is free, but you will have to pay £3 or £4 for parking.  The nearest tube stop is Colindale on the Northern Line.  Some rebuilding work is going on in anticipation of the centenary of the RAF in 2018, so some exhibits are not available.  I will return!

The King & Castle

Have I at long last found that illustrious ancestor connected to royalty?  Sadly, no.  This is about a trip last week to the Severn Valley Railway (SVR).  The King & Castle is the public house forming part of Kidderminster station, the eastern terminus of the heritage railway that runs through the Severn valley from Bridgnorth, Shropshire.  Speed has to Continue reading “The King & Castle”

Plane spotting: D-Day deception

lancaster silhouette front

Some time ago I suggested to BrownhillsBob that some images from an aircraft recognition manual from 1944 might be of interest. I am only just getting round to it.

I inherited the manual, which I think belonged to my late uncle Walter Dennis, who, after his shift at Kynoch, Perry Barr, Birmingham, was charged with spotting aircraft movements. There was a network of such people across the country: the Royal Observer Corps. They reported their observations to operations rooms by field telephone, which helped with decisions about defence against air raids, for example directing anti-aircraft artillery and fighter aircraft. Continue reading “Plane spotting: D-Day deception”

1939 and all that

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Rear view of 43 Chapel Street, Brownhills, by Joan Jackson.

A while back I looked at my father’s family as war approached – also 1939 and all that.  Now I visit my mother’s family, name of Brown, who lived at 41 Chapel Street.  Number 41 is the house beyond the hedge on the right of the painting.  The artist was Joan Jackson, who lived later at 43 with her husband Les.  Number 41 was where I spent the first year of my life and where my mother grew up.

I pointed out that searching the 1939 Register, online via Findmypast, can be a frustrating exercise, as the records of many people who are long dead remain locked because they have not been updated to anything like the present.  This time it would be more difficult.  I would have to break in by the back door.

Continue reading “1939 and all that”