Sunday, 29 December 2013

1945 Aeronautics Magazine

A recent addition to the Chalk reference library is this copy of Aeronautics from January 1945.

It contains 7 pages about the use of gliders in wartime with some pretty good photos including several of serving glider pilots and RAF ground crew.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Original Hadrian Glider Pilots Notes

Original glider Pilots Notes can sometimes be hard to come across but when I saw this little beauty on Ebay recently I just had to have it!

I've seen original WACO Pilots Notes before now but to find a set of British Pilots Notes especially in the guise of HADRIAN meant I had to make a financial sacrifice and dig deep!

As you can see from the photos the condition isn't too bad considering its age. The notes themselves were reprinted in India in 1944 - the Waco/Hadrian proved itself well in the Burma campaign, the Horsa didn't fair well in the humidity and heat. The notes are named on the front cover to F/O M Pennington (or maybe Pinnington?) and there are pen markings throughout (as a collector this is always something I like).

I just have to find original Horsa and Hamilcar notes now... oh and Hotspur...!

Troops Who Fly By Night Poster

I've been after this particular poster for many moons now, and have only ever come across originals which are usually in worn condition and fetch prices of £150 upwards!

Finally I managed to find a reproduction for a far more acceptable price at the 1940's Society! The original poster was part of a set produced during the war to encourage the purchasing of Savings Stamps. 'Soldiers at Sea' and 'Guns Behind the British Barrage' were other subjects covered amongst others.

I bought the poster which was delivered quickly and well packaged and then had it affixed to 15mm MDF, laminated and black edged which I can then hang on the wall rather than having the whole thing framed and glazed.

Link: 1940 Society

Original GPR Wings

Its not always easy, and can be costly, to add original items to the collection. A lot of our display items, especially uniforms are high quality reproductions including much of the insignia.

However, recently, I happened to be in the right place at the right financial moment to purchase three pairs of First Pilots wings and one pair of Second Pilots wings (not all in one go I hasten to add). Two of the First Pilots wings are of regular size and are in excellent although worn condition, one pair are of a far smaller size - for wear on dress uniform? (if anyone can enlighten me then please do) - the Second Pilots wings are also relatively small but are in superb condition.

I'm always on the look out for original GPR items so if you have anything or come across anything that I haven't seen then please do shout out! Cheers!

Not Many Of Us Left by Hugh Carling

Although the Chalk library has pretty much all the titles relating to the Glider Pilot Regiment there are, of course, several which are rare, out of print and simply too expensive to sit on the shelves alongside the others.

One of these titles was 'Not Many Of Us Left' by former Glider Pilot Sergeant Hugh Carling. However, with the help of Glyn at Glynsbooks (see link below) a copy was found and now resides shoulder to shoulder with the likes of 'Arnhem Lift', 'Nothing Is Impossible', 'Nine Days' and many others.

The book follows Hugh's progress from pre-war civvy street to him joining the Army at the outbreak of war, his service in North Africa and his eventual volunteering for the GPR and all that brought with it. The book is an excellent read and gives a good insight in to the life of just one of the men who flew gliders into battle. There are very few photographs and one or two minor incorrect details but overall this is a worthy addition to the research assets for the group. If you can find a copy, then get it!

Link: Glynsbooks

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Chalk at RAF Shawbury Assault Glider Trust Pt 2

Following on from our display at RAF Shawbury on Friday 26th July, I'd like to share with you a photograph of a very special visitor taken by Richard Head of the Assault Glider Trust.

We were fortunate enough to spend some time with 6th Airborne veteran Godfrey Yardley. Godfrey was with 2nd Battalion Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and took part in Operation Varsity, the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945. He was great to talk to and was able to tell us all about his time with 6th Airborne and how the operation went for him, in return we were able to show him some of our weapons and equipment!

Chalk members Andy and Matt with Godfrey and the AGT Horsa in the background. July 2013.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Glider Pilot Regiment Memorial Dedication Service - 11th September 2013

Wednesday 11th September 2013 saw the Memorial Dedication Service for at the National Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire.

The memorial itself is a stone from the people of Renkum in Holland to mark the sacrifice the Glider Pilot Regiment made as part of Operation Market Garden in September 1944.

The service went without a hitch with many veterans and families attending.

Prior to the service I'd been asked by the GPRA to design an advert, invite and order of service for the event, something I was honoured to do and as I was unable to attend the service in person it was a nice way of still being involved.

The designs we prepared for the Memorial Service.
Photo courtesy of Steve Wright - The Glider Pilot Regiment Facebook page. 2013.
Maj. Steve Elsey, project organiser. Photo courtesy of Steve Wright - The Glider Pilot Regiment Facebook page. 2013.
Photo courtesy of Steve Wright - The Glider Pilot Regiment Facebook page. 2013.
Photo courtesy of Steve Wright - The Glider Pilot Regiment Facebook page. 2013.
Photo courtesy of Steve Wright - The Glider Pilot Regiment Facebook page. 2013.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Glider Pilot Regiment Association Annual Reunion - October 2013

On Friday 11th of October I represented Chalk and commenced the long drive down to Bournemouth for the Annual Reunion of the Glider Pilot Regiment Association in my capacity as a 'Friend of the Eagle'. I'd agreed to take down a selection of weapons, uniforms and kit to display on for Saturday evenings dinner.

Poor weather and traffic turned a long journey in to a nightmare but by 18.30hrs I was on site to meet up with Steve Wright and by 18.45hrs I was sipping a pint and in deep conversation with the daughter of a former Glider Pilot who had attended in order to find out more information about her father. I was then introduced (by Steve, a true godsend) to several veterans before taking dinner in the main dining room of the hotel followed by a good chin wag before sloping off to bed only to find that my excitement (and below par matress) prevented much sleep!

After breakfast on the Saturday morning, Steve showed my around some of Bournemouths sights, the most outstanding of which was the Russell Cotes museum, simply a superb way to spend the morning.

Then a quick lunch back at the hotel, accompanied by more chatting and 'interviews' of the veterans, all the time pinching myself; as I chat to Hugh Martin about his involvement in Operation Dingson over his shoulder is Arthur Shackleton cracking jokes and in the corner is Peter Clarke and so on and so on... marvellous stuff.

At 18.30 I started to set up the display in the main dining room, the tables already set with GPRA menus and a large pair of Glider Pilot wings are positioned above the top table. The hotel staff are helpful and intrigued by my collection in equal measure, a few of them posing for photographs with the Sten and Colt .45!

At 7.30 dinner begins and I find myself sat with Peter Clarke, Des Page, Steve Wright and Associate guests. Good food and better conversation followed, I even won a box of Swiss chocolates in the raffle. After eating I dashed over to man the display which went down very well amongst all the guests so my journey was not wasted.

However, the absolute highlight of the weekend has to be that my membership position of 'Friend of the Eagle' has been promoted to Associate Member (a position normally reserved for family members of former Glider Pilots), I'm absolutely over the moon with this and drove home with a real smile on my face! I can only hope that Chalk's association with the GPRA can grow and that we can always do them and the Regiment justice.

Thank you.

The top table (photo courtesy of Steve Wright).
The Glider Pilot Wings (photo courtesy of Steve Wright).
A relaxed Jim Hooper, ex B Squadron, 20 Flight (photo courtesy of Steve Wright).
A Tug and Glider Pilot still attached 69 years later! Flight Lieutenant Doug Coxell ex 296 Squadron RAF with Laurie Weeden of 14 Flight F Squadron. Both were at Arnhem with Doug flying his Albemarle from Manston on the 17 September (photo courtesy of Steve Wright).
The Chalk display (and raffle prizes).

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Double Hills Arnhem Memorial Service, Paulton, Somerset

On Sunday 1st September I represented not only Chalk but had the honour of also representing the Glider Pilot Regiment itself when I attended the Double Hills Memorial Service at Paulton in Somerset. I had been invited down by the organiser of the event Peter Yeates who had seen our website and thought we'd be an ideal addition to the service which has run annually since 1979.

The memorial was established by a local committee headed by Peter to honour the men of Horsa glider Chalk 389 which carried men of 9th (Airborne) Field Company Royal Engineers which crashed on its way to Arnhem as part of Operation Market garden. All 21 men of the RE and the two glider pilots were killed in the crash at Doublehills Farm on the outskirts of Paulton in Somerset.

Link: Paradata Double Hills Article

I travelled down to Paulton on Saturday night and stayed in a very nice local B&B before meeting up in the village and marching to the memorial along with six Victorian policemen who are guard for the Lord Mayors Mace, a detachment of 9 Sqn Royal Engineers, a detachment of the Army Air Corps, the British Legion and a piper!

I had pride of place standing to one side of the Glider Pilot figure on the memorial and was asked by Glider Pilot veteran SSgt Arthur Shackleton to lay a wreath on behalf of Sgt Arthur Underwood who sadly passed away shortly before the service.

The day and the duties I was asked to carry out were a great honour for myself and Chalk and we'd like to thank Peter and the committee for inviting us to take part.

Having a chat with Arthur Shackleton (middle) and another Airborne veteran before the service.

Unveiling the Airborne Pegasus, a new addition to the Memorial.
Arthur Shackleton lays a wreath on behalf of the Glider Pilot Regiment Association with Chalk in the background.
Chalk and Double Hill committee members being inspected by Arthur Shackleton and Colonel Peter Eadie the Commandant Army Aviation Centre, Middle Wallop.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Chalk at RAF Shawbury Assault Glider Trust

On Friday 26th July, we displayed at RAF Shawbury's Families Open Day as guests of the Assault Glider Trust. We were given an excellent spot right under the tailplane of their Horsa glider!

Our day was extremely busy answering the questions of young, old, veterans, serving soldiers and airmen and their families. We put faces to names, met old friends and made new ones. After leaving Leeds at 3.30 am we had a long journey but it was more than worth it, how often do you get the chance to have an actual Horsa glider as your display backdrop?

I'll post more photos if I get them in but for now please enjoy the ones below, or if you were there and you have any you'd like to share then please get in touch.


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Chalk at the BBC! 'Last Heroes of D Day'

Last September (2012) Chalk were invited to take part in a new documentary for the BBC; 'The Last Heroes of D-day' which was aired on BBC1 on Sunday 9th and Monday 10th June this year.

We first travelled down to Margate in Kent for the night time scenes of the attack on Pegasus Bridge and the Piat attack on the Panzer IV (which finally took place just before daybreak).

A week or so later we made the journey to RAF Shawbury to film the glider sequences. This was a fantastic opportunity for Chalk as we got to sit in the pilot seats of the superb replica Horsa which is being built by the Assault Glider Trust. We also took part in scenes of paratroopers in the back of a Dakota as well as being filmed watching training films.

In all, the experience of filming was extremely interesting, tiring but interesting non the less. And the final product was brilliantly put together I'm sure you'll agree.

The downloadable e-book is also very good with more veteran interviews.

Link: Last Heroes of DDay

All screengrabs courtesy of BBC Television 2013
All screengrabs courtesy of BBC Television 2013

All screengrabs courtesy of BBC Television 2013

All screengrabs courtesy of BBC Television 2013

All screengrabs courtesy of BBC Television 2013

All screengrabs courtesy of BBC Television 2013

More Duxford IWM!

Photo courtesy of Tolleys 2013
Photo courtesy of Tolleys 2013
Photo courtesy of Tolleys 2013

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Chalk at Duxford IWM - June 15/16 2013

All members of Chalk were able to attend the MVT weekend at Imperial War Museum Duxford over the weekend of 15/16th June.

The weather was hot, cloudy, rainy, cold, hot and windy! With everyone getting burnt pink on the Sunday. There were far more British Airborne groups than last year which looked absolutely superb, we were also joined by two very good Amercian Airborne groups and one Polish!

Highlights for me were meeting Johnnie Peters of 1st Border and veteran of Arnhem and also Neil Barber author of 'The Day The Devils Dropped In'.

See the photo's below and when I get more I'll be sure to update. Cheers.

Photo courtesy of Airborne Assault Museum, IWM Duxford 2013

Photo courtesy of Airborne Assault Museum, IWM Duxford 2013

Photo courtesy of Airborne Assault Museum, IWM Duxford 2013

Photo courtesy of Airborne Assault Museum, IWM Duxford 2013

Thursday, 13 June 2013

REMEMBER! Chalk will be displaying at Duxford IWM!

Remember folks, we'll be displaying at Duxford IWM this weekend (15-16th June) as part of their Airborne Forces Weekend.

We'll be joined by other living history groups displaying British and American airborne uniforms and equipment.

Why not come down and take a look for yourselves? There's also the museum itself to look round of course so come early! If you do decide to visit then drop by the Chalk display (look for the blue banner) and say hello.


Friday, 10 May 2013

Major Mike Peters at Redoubt Fortress

Major Mike Peters is the author of Glider Pilots at Arnhem (co-written with Luuk Buist) and Glider Pilots in Sicily, a serving AAC Officer, has also published DVD's on the history of GPR and Pegasus Bridge and leads battlefield tours (where does he find the time?).

On Saturday June 1st, Mike will be giving a lecture on 'The Glider Pilot Regiment at Arnhem' at the Redoubt Fortress in Eastbourne.

If you'd like to attend please call 01323 410300 or visit www.eastbournemuseums for more details.

Lectures run from 2pm to 4pm with a short Q&A session afterwards.

Thank you.