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They will not be forgotten

April 15th, 2018
It is a sad fact that as they are now reaching very old age we have to say goodbye to our ever dwindling group of wartime hero veterans. Four veterans recently passed away that the Museum could call friends and supporters were Sydney Pigden, Rodney Scrase, Fergus Anckorn and Adam Ostrowski.

Sydney was an RAF fighter pilot who survived well over 100 ground-attack sorties with 164 ‘Argentine-British’ Squadron, when flying Hawker Hurricane and Typhoon rocket-armed aircraft against heavily defended enemy ground targets. Losses on these missions were high and on several occasions Sydney’s aircraft was damaged by flak, including an incident when he had to land his mighty Typhoon on a forward airstrip in Normandy post D-Day with no brakes or flaps. Due to his high landing speed, he soon ran out of runway, so Sydney had to kick in full rudder to skid his aircraft off to one side in a ground loop and was lucky to avoid either the undercarriage collapsing or flipping over into a violent cartwheel. His successful recovery of his damaged aircraft earned Sydney a well-deserved Mention-In-Despatches. Postwar, Sydney flew Spitfires and took part in the Battle of Britain flypast over London on 15th September 1945. After first visiting the Museum in 2010, Sydney kindly donated his flying logbook and medal’s where they have been on proud display ever since.

Rodney was a proud serving member of 72 Squadron and flew with distinction across the Mediterranean theatre of operations that included the invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Flying Spitfires in air combat, he was credited with four enemy aircraft destroyed and a further three damaged. All his claims were against enemy fighters and included Messerschmitt Me109’s and a Focke-wulf Fw190 and his success in air combat earned him a coveted Distinguished Flying Cross. After completing his tour in mid-1944, Rodney carried out instructor duties teaching air-to-air gunnery in the Middle East before returning to England at the end of the year to serve with No.1 Squadron on escort missions until the war ended. Rodney was a longtime very keen supporter of the work of the Museum, especially the on-going Local RAF Memorials Project and in attending many fund-raising signing events.

Fergus can truly be called a remarkable survivor, not least because he found a way to keep strong against brutal Japanese captivity in the Far East. As a member of the Royal Artillery, Fergus was wounded and captured at Singapore in 1942 by the Japs who eventually sent him to work on the infamous ‘Death Railway’. However, Fergus honed his skills as a conjurer that did much to alleviate the horrors of the prison camps not just for himself, but also for his fellow captives. Once the atom bombs brought Japan to sign a surrender and bring the Second World War to an end, Fergus was liberated and repatriated back home to recover from his ordeal and try and return to a normal life, which was not easy. Fergus eventually built a career in teaching and having been the youngest elected member to the Magic Circle before the war, he became a professional magician. In addition, he also became a Special Constable, where his ‘beat’ included the home of Winston Churchill at Chartwell. Fergus was a very popular and entertaining visitor to the Museum who wowed young and old alike with his sleight of hand tricks.

Adam had a remarkable wartime experience that started out being captured by Russian forces in Poland and ended by flying Spitfires for the RAF. Working as an engineering student Adam had obtained his pilot’s licence, but caught up by the German and Russian invasions of Poland in September 1939, the Russians shipped him off to a labour camp in Siberia. Eventually released when General Sikorski, the Polish leader-in-exile made an agreement with Stalin to release his countryman to help the war effort, Adam managed to secure passage to Great Britain via Murmansk, where he presented himself to the RAF. They taught him to speak English and flight theory (the RAF way!) until he was allowed to fly. After serving with various flying units, in late 1944 Adam eventually gained a proud posting to fly Spitfires alongside his countrymen with 317 ‘Wilenski’ Squadron operating as part of the Second Tactical Air Force in Belgium as they supported the Allied advance into Europe against determined German defence. When the war in Europe ended, Adam and his Polish squadron were based in Germany as part of the British Air Forces of Occupation. Saddened at the fate of his beloved Poland under Soviet occupation, Adam elected to settle in England. His visits to the Museum were warmly welcomed and he was a keen reader of the ‘Friends of The Few’ newsletter, especially when any stories appeared linked to the great fighting spirit of Poland, for which so much was sacrificed in the face of massive adversity.

Sydney, Rodney, Fergus and Adam will ever be fondly remembered at Shoreham.

Memorial for Jack unveiled

September 29th, 2017

As part of its ‘Local RAF Memorials Project’, which seeks to pay tribute to ‘The Few’ who lost their lives within a 10 mile radius of the Shoreham Aircraft Museum, a stone memorial was unveiled on 23rd September 2017 to honour Sergeant Pilot Jack Hammerton of 615 ‘County of Surrey’ Squadron. He lost his life on 6th November 1940, when his Hawker Hurricane crashed at Noah’s Ark, near Kemsing in Kent. The dedication service concluded with a tribute flypast by the Hurricane from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar flown by Clive Denney.

An ‘Eggscellent’ start to the season

April 24th, 2017
The Easter weekend saw several veterans visit Shoreham to help launch the Museum 2017 season in wonderful style.

Bob Hughes

On Saturday 15th April, Flight Lieutenant ‘Bob’ Hughes DFC, made a return visit to Shoreham after nearly 30 years. He attended the opening of the Museum in 1988 and was delighted to be back where once again he proved to be a popular visitor. Bob served as an air-gunner with the night-fighter Blenheims of 23 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. He later went on to complete 2 operational tours on bombers and earned a well deserved DFC.
Johnny Johnson
On Easter Sunday, Shoreham was privileged to welcome on his first visit to the Museum, the last surviving British 617 Squadron ‘Dambuster’ veteran, Squadron Leader ‘Johnny’ Johnson DFM. He was the bomb aimer with Lancaster ‘T for Tommy’, which attacked the Sorpe Dam. Johnny went on to enjoy a long and distinguished RAF career.
Tom Neil
On Easter Monday, the well known Battle of Britain and Malta Hurricane ‘ace’, Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC & Bar, (a Shoreham ‘regular’), kindly attended to meet and greet many visitors and sell a good pile of his varied and splendid books.
That rounded off a superb holiday weekend and greatest thanks goes to Bob, Johnny and Tom for coming to Shoreham with additional appreciation extended to their family members and friends who carried out ‘taxi duties’. A thank you too for Museum and Tearoom volunteers for helping to keep ‘control’ and ensuring the teas and cakes kept flowing! Lastly a thank you to all Museum Friends, supporters and visitors for supporting the events by coming to meet our veteran heroes and helping to raise much needed funds for Museum projects.

Ron Liversage MBE (Mil) – Bomber Boy

March 28th, 2017

It is with much sadness that the Museum recently learnt of the passing of Ron Liversage MBE (Mil) who served as an air-gunner in RAF Bomber Command during WW2. Ron first visited Shoreham in the summer of 2012 and he then became a regular visitor supporting many fund-raising events at the Museum in aid of the Bomber Command Memorial Maintenance Fund.

Ron Liversage MBE (Mil)

Ron was a wonderful character who was both a very proud Scouser and proud of his long RAF service that included flying in Vickers Wellingtons from the besieged island of Malta and with the Desert Air Force in North Africa. He later flew operationally in Europe with the Avro Lancasters of 625 Squadron and his signature adorns the Museum’s Lancaster propeller blade. He remained in the RAF post-war and in 1964 was awarded a well deserved MBE (Military) before he retired in 1971.

It was a privilege for Shoreham to have Ron as a Friend and he will not be forgotten.

‘Spitfire Girl’ visits Shoreham

November 13th, 2016

It was a privilege on Sunday 6th November 2016 for Shoreham to welcome Joy Lofthouse, a veteran pilot who served with the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). Joy flew a variety of RAF aircraft including the superlative Supermarine Spitfire and naval types like the extraordinary looking Fairey Barracuda.

Joy Lofthouse

Joy was kept busy signing books and prints and chatting at length in conversations with visitors; artist and Museum Curator Geoff Nutkins, presented Joy with his original portrait painting of her. The day was a great success with thanks especially to Joy, and additional thanks to Mrs Janet Nicholls who provided our special guest and her driver with a comforting bed & breakfast. Museum volunteer Ken Back did a sterling job providing the on-the-road escort to enable Joy to arrive safely and on time at Shoreham. Appreciative thanks also go to all the Museum volunteers and kitchen and tearoom staff who ensured all went smoothly and a thank you too for all those who supported the event in coming to meet Joy.

Another ‘One of The Few’ comes to Shoreham

October 29th, 2016

It was an ever delightful occasion to welcome Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC & Bar to Shoreham on Sunday 23rd October, for an always popular signing event with one of the most notable surviving ‘Few’ from the Battle of Britain. This well attended event kept Tom busy signing all manner of items from the usual books and prints to model aircraft, especially of the Hawker Hurricane in which Tom became an ‘ace’ in 1940 with 249 Squadron. Ably assisted by his young friend Margaret, Tom sold a good stack of his excellent books, which made it a ‘profitable’ day for both him and the Museum.

Tom Neil

Thank you to everyone who visited to support the Museum and meet Tom and not forgetting all the Museum volunteers who worked well to ensure the day was a memorable success.

‘One of The Few’ comes to Shoreham

October 23rd, 2016

It was a proud privilege on Saturday 8th October for the Museum to welcome Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM, a veteran of both the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain as a Hawker Hurricane pilot with 501 Squadron. The signing event was a great success with visitors travelling from near and far to meet Wg/Cmdr Farnes and have him sign books and prints. The question and answer session that followed afterwards was well attended with Wg/Cmdr Farnes in fine form to make the whole day a great and memorable one.

Paul Farnes

D-Day at Shoreham

October 5th, 2016

The first Sunday in October 2016 saw the Museum given over to the Army for a signing event. Author and supporter of the Normandy Veterans Association, Raymond P. Newlyn, came to Shoreham to sell his books along with D-Day, Normandy and Arnhem veterans featured in the titles ‘D-Day 70’ and ‘The Airborne Club’. They were Paratrooper ‘Jock’ Hutton, Special Forces Alec Borrie, ‘Tankie’ Walter Fuller, Wireless Operator Bob Stevens, Medic’s David Whiteman & Alec Hall and Stanley Marsh of the Royal Navy.

To add to the great spirit of the day other visitors included RAF air gunner John Waye and the Pearly King & Queen, who kindly brought with them two wonderful Chelsea Pensioners resplendent in their long scarlet tunics. The Pearly King of Camberwell & Bermondsey Jimmy Jukes MBE, and the Pearly Queen of Rotherhithe Michelle Thorpe, devote all their time to helping homeless ex-service personnel find and furnish suitable accommodation.

The dear members from the Royal Hospital were ‘In Pensioners’ John Gallagher (006) ex-Royal Army Ordnance Corps and Dewi Treharne (327) ex-Royal Corps of Signals.
The event was well supported by visitors who eagerly snapped up copies of Raymond’s books complete with all signatures as well as getting their own items signed, so several hundred Pounds were raised for both the Normandy Veterans Association and Museum projects.

A ‘Magical’ visit

August 10th, 2016

It was a wonderful privilege on the last Sunday of July 2016 for the Museum to welcome the amazing Fergus Anckorn, the Far East Royal Artillery veteran who survived a terrible ordeal as a Jap prisoner of war. His experiences included escaping the massacre at the Alexandra Hospital in Singapore and later being put to work on bridge building over the infamous River Kwai.

At 97 years of age Fergus is a long-standing member of the Magic Circle and thanks to his magic tricks he rose above the worst the Japs could throw at him and in doing so helped many of his fellow captive comrades. Fergus was recently on TV with magician Richard Jones. a serving soldier who won the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ competition.

After a morning session in the Museum talking with visitors and signing books and prints, Fergus demonstrated his wonderful sleight of hand with incredibly clever tricks using just elastic bands and coins. After a traditional ‘bacon banjo’ and a glass of ‘Spitfire’ ale for lunch, Fergus kindly sat out in the Teagarden and with microphone in hand, regaled the assembled crowd with many tales from both his wartime experiences and in entertaining generations of folk with his magic.

Easter Sunday Signing

April 5th, 2016

The Museum was proud and delighted to welcome two wonderful RAF veteran aces to help launch the 2016 season. Battle of Britain ace Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC & Bar was in attendance along with Squadron Leader Allan Scott DFM, who gained ace status over Malta.

Signing Day

The opportunity to meet these wonderful gentlemen drew a good crowd of visitors despite the poor weather and books, prints and model aircraft were duly signed.

Signing Day

As a token of thanks to Tom and Allan for their very fine signing efforts, Club member Ronnie ‘The Flying Scotsman’ Lamont presented each of them with a bottle of Scotland’s finest tipple, which were warmly accepted.

Signing Day

There are still some pilot signed portraits available of Tom Neil and the late, great Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, priced at £25 each + p&p. Please contact the Museum for details.
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