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News Archive for April, 2008

Battle of Britain Relic

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

The Museum was happy to receive an interesting item from Mr Alan Wooler of Abbey Wood in Kent and his grandson who visited the Museum on Sunday 20th April 2008. Mr Wooler kindly donated a wooden plaque on which was fixed a relic from a Spitfire that crashed during the height of the Battle of Britain. Interestingly the relic has a well crafted little metal Spitfire attached to it.

Alan_Wooler_and_grandson

The relic which could possibly be a piece of Merlin engine casing, originally came from the crash site of the Spitfire flown by 22 years old Flying Officer Oswald St.John Pigg who was shot down and killed on Sunday 1st September 1940.

Oswald Pigg was born in 1918 and joined the RAF in early 1937, and after flying training was posted to No.72 Squadron and was still serving with the Squadron at the time of Dunkirk when he claimed a Junkers Ju87 ‘Stuka’ shot down. His Spitfire however was hit by return fire from another ‘Stuka’ and he crash-landed at Gravesend in Kent with a slight wound to one of his legs.

Spitfire_relic

During the Battle of Britain whilst No.72 Squadron was based at Acklington in Northumberland, Flying Officer Pigg claimed a Messerschmitt Me110 destroyed off the East Coast near Newcastle when Luftflotte Five based in Norway carried out its one and only large scale daylight attack against England.

At the end of August 1940, No.72 Squadron were posted to the Biggin Hill Sector. During a late morning patrol on the first day of September, a Messerschmitt Me109E attacked and shot down Flying Officer Pigg who was at the controls of Spitfire MkIa serial P9458 which crashed at Elvey Farm, Pluckley near Ashford in Kent. He is buried at St.Oswald’s Burial Ground in Durham.

The Shoreham Aircraft Museum is grateful to Mr Wooler for handing on this fragment of history, which allows us to remember another brave sacrifice by a Battle of Britain pilot.

The Great Evader

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Notwithstanding the new exhibits and displays prepared over the winter period to herald the 20th anniversary of the Museum, another new display was unveiled on Sunday 13th April 2008. Thanks to the generous donation of relics by Mr Simon Brunt, a display now records the tragic loss of Warrant Officer Richard Blumer of the Royal Australian Air Force on 25th June 1944 when his Supermarine Spitfire MkXIV serial RM617 from No.91 ‘Nigeria’ Squadron, crashed at Nettlestead near West Malling in Kent .

Relics

‘Red’ Blumer as he was known on account of his bright ginger hair had a very dramatic albeit short flying career, which started in early 1941 upon joining the RAAF and then undergoing flying training in Canada where he crashed an aircraft due to unauthorised low-flying. Possibly as a result of his misdemeanours, Sgt Blumer was retained as a Staff Pilot in Canada on gaining his ‘Wings’ and it was not until February 1943 that he was posted to England and after conversion training then joined No.91 Squadron at RAF Hawkinge to fly on cross-Channel fighter sweeps.

Red Blumer

Flight Sergeant Blumer claimed his first success in air combat on 8th September 1943 when he destroyed a Focke-Wulf Fw190 over Northern France and at the end of the month his ‘tally’ stood at 2 ‘Destroyed’ Fw190′s and one half-shared ‘Destroyed’ Fw190. After one more success, this time against a Messerschmitt Me109 in October 1943, ‘Red’ Blumer’s luck ran out.

On 6th November 1943 he was shot down by flak north of Rouen during a ‘Rhubarb’ sortie, but managed to avoid capture by the Germans and eventually made contact with the French Resistance who guided him to neutral Switzerland . Classed as an ‘Evader’ by the Swiss authorities, he was sent to an RAF Camp in that country, but weeks later the young RAAF pilot again made contact with the French Resistance who guided him down towards Spain, but this time the Germans caught him. His plucky nature however saw ‘Red’ Blumer slip away from his captors and he then managed to reach Spain before heading to Gibraltar and a safe return to England .

After a period of convalescence, W/O Blumer re-joined No.91 Squadron at RAF West Malling during the early days of June 1944 as the Allied invasion of Occupied Europe gained a foothold in Normandy . Soon however, V-1 Flying Bombs began to appear over the skies of southeast England and No.91 Squadron were put to task on ‘Anti-Diver’ patrols to combat the menace of the pilotless missiles heading towards London. After one such ‘Anti-Diver’ patrol on Sunday 25th June, ‘Red’ Blumer put down his Spitfire RM617 at Staplehurst Advanced Landing Ground to refuel and after taking-off again for the short return flight to West Malling, the Spitfire suddenly spun in and crashed killing the 23 years old Aussie. Today ‘Red’ rests at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey and his gallant sacrifice is remembered by the Shoreham Aircraft Museum.

Who ordered the Snow?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

For once the weather forecasters were correct and a good layer of real snow fell upon Shoreham Village on Sunday 6th April 2008. It made for a very picturesque Museum teagarden. The winter wonderland scene was later the arena for a snowball and in some cases – snowboulder fight! A snowman also appeared, but he was too embarrassed to let his picture appear on the website!

Spring snow

Spring snow 2

Spring snow 3

Spring snow 4