Archive for July, 2009

NEW Chief of the Air Staff to Attend Battle of Britain Commemoration at Yorkshire Air Museum

Friday, July 31st, 2009

We can now confirm that the newly appointed Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Stephen Dalton KCB ADC BSc FRAes FCMI RAF will be Guest of Honour at the forthcoming Battle of Britain Commemoration Service and Parade, taking place at the Allied Air Forces Memorial (Yorkshire Air Museum) on Sunday 6th September. This will be amongst Sir Stephen’s very first public engagements since taking up the senior position of Chief of the Air Staff on 31st July, and he is attending in his capacity as Vice President of the Allied Air Forces Memorial, Elvington.Organised in conjunction with Royal Air Forces Association, the event will mark the 70th Anniversary of the outbreak of WWII and the famous battles that were fought in the skies and fields of Europe and other occupied territories. The event will feature a huge parade of veterans old and young and National Standards of RAFA and other Service Associations. During the event, Sir Stephen Dalton will present a brand new trophy, the Regional Young Person of the Year Award, to the most outstanding Air Training Corps cadet nominated by regional ATC Squadron’s, which will be a high honour for the chosen recipient.

The Service will be also be attended by The President of the Royal Air Forces Association, Air Marshal Phillip Sturley. The Revd (Sqn Ldr) David Norfield, Station Chaplain RAF Linton on Ouse and Yorkshire Air Museum Chaplain Revd Neill Mackay, will lead the Service of Remembrance in the Canadian Memorial hangar, with the stunning background of the unique WWII Halifax bomber.

Other dignitaries include the Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Air Commodore William Gambold, the York Civic Party and Station Commanders of RAF bases Linton on Ouse, Group Captain Mike Longstaff, and Fylingdales, Wing Commander Greg Hammond, amongst many others.

A formal Military Parade, March-past and Salute will take place with veterans, serving airmen and women and ATC. The York Railway Institute Band are providing music for the Service, whilst the Air Training Corps Northern Group Band will accompany the Parade and March Past.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire & Hurricane will be flying at the event which concludes with the emotional Sunset Ceremony and Lowering of the RAF Ensign with the Piper playing the Evening Hymn.

This is a last call for veterans and Squadron Associations / Service Groups from across the country to register their wish to take part in this poignant ceremony in the presence of the Chief of the Air Staff, the most senior position in the RAF, and other high profile guests. We urge you to take this opportunity and enjoy this great occasion with us. Please contact John Allison, Hon. Secretary RAFA on 01904 761077 or contact the Yorkshire Air Museum on 01904 608595.

Twitch Inn Door Returns to Famous Wartime Haunt of Fighter Aces

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

The cellar door to the legendary ‘Twitch Inn’ at Douces Manor is today being returned to its former home by the Yorkshire Air Museum & Allied Air Forces Memorial, to complete the restoration of this famous wartime haunt. This unusual artefact was donated to the Museum through the Aircrew Association in January 2002.

Douces Manor was the Headquarters and Mess for officers flying from RAF West Malling, in Kent. The cellar bar was frequented by many brave young fighter pilots and, typical of the dry sense of humour of the time, became colloquially known as the ‘Twitch Inn’, due to the nervous affliction that affected many pilots. This noticeable twitch that many displayed was a result of the immense stress, strain and fatigue they experienced during this time of national crisis.

The name was ‘officially’ inscribed into the top half of the swing door by officers of 29 Squadron in 1944, using metal which could possibly have come from aircraft of the time. The bar, which was also adorned with candle soot ‘graffiti’ in the form of signatures and cartoons carved by the airmen into the walls and ceiling, has witnessed many tales of aerial battles won and lost.

Many illustrious air aces have frequented Douces Manor, including ‘Sailor’ Moran, Stanford Tuck, Guy Gibson and Wing Commander John ‘Cats Eyes’ Cunningham with his navigator Jimmy Rawnsley. Together, this pair had become the most successful defensive night fighter team, flying Mosquito aircraft with 85 Squadron and protecting the skies over the Home Counties during 1943. As Commanding Officer of 85 Squadron, John Cunningham actually lived in the Manor House.

The door and other photographic panels were initially donated to the Aircrew Association by Norwich Union, who had been using Douces Manor as a Training Centre, until they vacated the premises. The Yorkshire Air Museum, as the Allied Air Forces Memorial, is now the national repository for items donated to the Aircrew Association and the Twitch Inn artefacts arrived in January 2002. Since then, the Douces Manor site has been redeveloped by Beechcroft Developments, but the cellar bar (Twitch Inn) has now been leased to West Malling Parish Council for a long period for use as a Heritage Centre, managed by the Malling Society. Beechcroft undertook the restoration of the cellar bar in a high quality and sympathetic manner.

Ian Reed, Director, Yorkshire Air Museum, comments: “It is fantastic that these artefacts that have been in our safekeeping for a number of years can be returned to their original home, and complete the restoration of this historic room, which has been witness to so many tales of bravery in the defence of our nation in its darkest hour.”

On behalf of the Malling Society, Margaret McCarthy (Secretary), said: “We are indeed very grateful that the Twitch Inn door panel was saved in the first instance and protected by the Yorkshire Air Museum and the enthusiastic reception to the idea of bringing these artefacts back ‘home’ to Douces Manor on long-term loan is much appreciated. They will be the finishing touch to the restoration project.”

The Douces Manor Heritage Centre will open to the public on certain days and times, and information on this can be found by calling Margaret McCarthy on 01732 220 563 or e-mail:

Top Flight of International Displays at Airbourne 2009

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

The World’s biggest FREE seafront airshow promises a top flight of international flying displays including the RNAF F16, Eurofigher Typhoon, Belgian Sea King and US Air Force KC135.Visitors to Airbourne, Eastbourne’s airshow, will be treated to a packed line up of exciting international displays in 2009 from the United States, Belgian, and Royal Netherlands Air Forces. From watching thrilling displays from the Belgian Sea King and Royal Netherlands Air Force AB412 Search and Rescue aircraft to the popular F16, plus an impressive display from the highly capable and extremely agile Eurofighter Typhoon; airshow enthusiasts can enjoy a world class flying programme.

Eastbourne Borough Council Cabinet Member for Tourism, Cllr Susan Morris said “This year’s Airbourne keeps on getting better and better. We already have crowd favourite, the Red Arrows, on all four days and now, with the bumper line up of international displays, visitors are in for a truly spectacular airshow. With entertainment carrying on into the evening at this year’s event, visitors have plenty to look forward to in 2009.”

Other displays confirmed for Airbourne 2009 when it returns to Eastbourne seafront from 13-16 August include the Blades Extra 300, Guinot Wingwalkers, Swift Glider Team, Tigers Parachute Display Team, Tutor, and Mustang.

Visitors will be able to watch in wonder as the glamorous Guinot team perform their daredevil antics aboard the wings of their Boeing Stearman Biplane, while the Blades Extra 300, who have famously displayed at the Beckhams pre-World Cup Party and on TV’s Emmerdale, sweep in and perform twists and turns in the skies.

With tickets on sale now offering the chance for visitors to upgrade their airshow experience in 2009, airshow fans can book exclusive seating at Eastbourne Bandstand for just £7 a day offering uninterrupted views of the flying line, while a day out in the Aviator Club Hospitality Marquee starts from just £50+VAT per person with arena-side seats.

The Friends of Airbourne membership scheme also offers exclusive airshow benefits for those signing up. Airbourne fans can become a Bronze member for free and receive regular newsletters, or upgrade to Silver for just £10 and receive a goody bag, souvenir programme, plus the chance to meet the pilots.

To find out more about Airbourne 2009 visit or telephone 0871 663 0031. Airbourne 2009 is sponsored by Barratt Southern Counties with sponsoring the Red Arrows flying display.

Americans in the Royal Air Force

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

The Royal Air Force Museum, in the run up to American Independence Day, has launched a new online exhibition honouring those American men and women who joined the Royal Air Force during both World Wars to defend Britain against hostile attack.

View the online exhibition by clicking: here

Men such as Olympian and playboy Billy Fiske “an American who died so that England might live” and women such as aviatrix and pioneer Jackie Cochrane who was instrumental in recruiting American female pilots to serve in the Air Transport Auxiliary.

In this online exhibition the Museum recounts their stories, often, in their own words and the cultural challenges they faced; from not wishing to be considered “bragging Yanks” by their new comrades to potentially being branded traitors to their own countrymen for joining a foreign military service.

Stuart Hadaway, Curator of the exhibition states:

“It is amazing how many Americans served with the British flying services during both of the World Wars. Hundreds served with the RAF in the Great War – far more than in the more famous French Escadrille Lafayette.”

During the Second World War tens of thousands volunteered, and they made a valuable contribution. Their efforts were far from limited to the celebrated Eagle Squadrons; they served in every part of the RAF all around the world, and others, including women, flew as civilians with the Air Transport Auxiliary.

They came through a sense of adventure, or more often simply because they felt something must be done to stop the Germans.

Some, like Pilot Officer Billy Fiske, were rich and well-to-do people who literally gave up everything to come and fight for what they believed in. They may have broken American laws to do so, but long before Pearl Harbour these people were fighting for freedom, liberty, and every other American ideal. They were, and remain, the best of their country and true American heroes.”

Both of The Royal Air Force Museum’s sites in London and in Cosford are open daily from 10am to 6pm. Admission is FREE. For further details visit the Museum’s website