Time to let go, chaps, time to let go

Pic: Daily Mail
I’ve nothing against people wearing fancy dress to big sporting occasions. If they want to spend hours watching a football match sweltering inside a suit of armour or an animal costume, well, that’s their choice. But I do wonder why English people persist in the ridiculous fantasy that a game between England and Germany is a rematch of the Second World War.
The fact is, the war was a terrible tragedy which did huge material damage and cost the lives of millions of people. These losses are cheapened – mocked even – when pictures of a pair of idiot England fans dressed up in RAF uniforms are beamed round the world.
It’s time to end this rubbish. I rarely agree with Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn but this paragraph from his diatribe in Monday’s paper was spot on:
At South Africa 2010, the Germans again came out on top against England – as they have in every major tournament since 1966. Surely it’s time to bury the tiresome ‘Two World Wars and one World Cup’ taunt for good.
The fact is, England were beaten by a younger, fitter, better team, with a home-grown manager (who is apparently inspired by his mentor Jurgen Klinsmann’s time at the mighty Tottenham Hotspur). Germany has now beaten England in every match in the finals of a major championship since 1966 and yet we persist in invoking our one success, 44 years ago. Even more embarrassing is our habit of insulting German people by using the words ‘Kraut’ or ‘Hun’, and then pretending that we are still at war with them.
It really is time we grew up.

Ken Brown’s boots – and other memorabilia – stolen

Important Canadian air force memorabilia was stolen in a break-in at Calgary’s Aero Space Museum last week. The thieves raided the petty cash and charity collection boxes, as well as taking items used by various RCAF personnel in both the first and second world wars. Perhaps the most valuable were the swagger stick, flying hat and log book which were once owned by a First World war pilot, Lt Tim Thompson. Of most interest to Dambuster enthusiasts were the loss of a pair of flying boots given to the museum by Ken Brown, the pilot of AJ-F on the Dams Raid. (Whether he wore them on the raid itself is not recorded.)
There is a limited market for this sort of stuff — so if any readers see anything suspicious on EB*y or other sites, they should get in touch with the authorities immediately.

UPDATE:  Someone obviously had a change of heart, as all the items have been returned anonymously! Latest report from the Calgary Sun.

The Dams Raid: a historical perspective

Digging about on the RAF Museum website, as one does, I came across what seems like a very interesting resource, the online version of the Journal of the RAF Historical Society. The society was established in 1986 and runs two or three seminars every year devoted to the whole range of RAF history. It also publishes a journal, and the first 36 numbers of these are all available online. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be either an index or a full list of contents, so I haven’t yet explored every single issue. However, I can say that issue no. 34 could be useful to anyone with an interest in the Dams Raid, as it contains a 26 page article by Wg Cdr T M Webster entitled ‘The Dam Busters Raid – Success or Sideshow?’
This is an interesting, factual account which starts well before the war, and the involvement of Barnes Wallis. Based largely on the book by John Sweetman, it deals with the identification of the Ruhr dams as important industrial targets and the various ideas which were developed for attacking them. Then it follows through the chronology of the planning, the raid itself and its aftermath.
The conclusion? Perhaps not surprisingly, it is that:

allying this precision [the accuracy of the bombing] to the dramatic post-raid reconnaissance photographs, the undoubted bravery of the crews involved and a pre-determination to use the raid for propaganda purposes it is hardly surprising that the Dams Raid remains the RAF’s most famous single operation and No 617 its most famous squadron.
All in all, the Dams Raid was an all-round success and not a slideshow.

You can download the whole (8MB) PDF here.

Dambusters not affected by MGM woes

The news that Mexican film director Guillermo del Toro is no longer to direct The Hobbit, which was to be produced by Peter Jackson, does not at first glance have any repercussions on Jackson’s projected Dambusters film. However, it is obviously a distraction for the great man, when the last we heard was that he was working on revisions to Stephen Fry’s script.
The fate of The Hobbit is closely bound up with the current state of flux with mega-production company MGM, which is up for sale. This is having a severe knock on effect further down the food chain — even to the extent that box office biggies like the new James Bond film are now on hold.
The Dambusters remake, however, will be distributed by Universal and Studio Canal so, in theory, MGM’s woes are irrelevant. And it is to be directed by Christian Rivers, who doesn’t appear to have any other projects on the go at the moment.
Jackson has said that if necessary he will direct The Hobbit himself. That, obviously, would eat into the time he has available for other work. But if he can delegate his work on the Dambusters to his co-producers then this could be minimised.
Whatever happens, we can expect very few public announcements until there is real news to report. Wingnut Films is a secretive outfit (it doesn’t even have a website) tucked away in a small country thousands of miles from anywhere. Even though its films since the Lord of the Rings saga have had mixed responses, it is still a wealthy company which can put substantial resources into movie-making. There is no reason at present to be worried about the Dambusters project.
However, our speculation eighteen months ago that 2011 would be the earliest it would appear now seems less likely to be true. It surely won’t hit the screens until 2012.