Category: Second World War

The Sinking of HMS Ark Royal

The Sinking of HMS Ark Royal

Launched in 1937, the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal would see much distinguished service during the Second World War. She found herself involved in some of the earliest sinkings of German U-boats, supporting operations in Norway and the hunt for the mighty German battleship Bismarck. As the war progressed, she took part in the…

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Hearts of Steel: The Sword of Stalingrad

Hearts of Steel: The Sword of Stalingrad

On 29th November 1943 during the Tehran Conference, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill presented Soviet leader Joseph Stalin with a ceremonial longsword. King George VI had asked for the sword to be commissioned in recognition of the defenders of Stalingrad, who had courageously fought for their city between August 1942 and February 1943. Apart from…

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The Rafwaffe: No.1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight, Royal Air Force

The Rafwaffe: No.1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight, Royal Air Force

No.1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight of the Royal Air Force was formed on 21st November 1941 to test and evaluate captured enemy aircraft of the German Luftwaffe. The idea was to gain intelligence on the capabilities and characteristics of these aircraft. As a result, the Flight gained the nickname ‘the Rafwaffe’, although it also evaluated an…

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Operation Catapult: A Most Disagreeable Task

Operation Catapult: A Most Disagreeable Task

It was midnight on 25 June 1940 when the armistice, signed three days earlier by French and German representatives at Compiègne, came into force and ended the Battle of France. In a mere six weeks the Germans had conquered much of western Europe, including France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. These unfortunate countries would remain…

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Avro Lancaster KB889

Avro Lancaster KB889

There are currently only two airworthy Avro Lancasters in the world. These include: PA474, operated by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in the UK, and FM213, flown in Canada by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. However, a number of other ‘static’ survivors also exist, including KB889, which is currently on display at the Imperial…

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I was Monty’s Double: Meyrick Edward Clifton James

I was Monty’s Double: Meyrick Edward Clifton James

In April 1944, Lieutenant-Colonel John Jervis-Reid was perusing the News Chronicle newspaper when he came across a photograph of Meyrick Edwards Clifton James dressed as Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. James had been briefly appearing in a stage show as the famous British military commander, a late addition to the production which had not proved overly…

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The Observer Corps: The Forgotten Civilian Volunteers of the Battle of Britain

The Observer Corps: The Forgotten Civilian Volunteers of the Battle of Britain

Ask any British person what they know about the Battle of Britain and you will almost certainly receive answers that include references to the Spitfire, Hurricane or ‘The Few’. However, there were many others who played an important role during the summer air campaign of 1940, whose less glamorous efforts have sadly been largely forgotten…

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Wing Commander James Brindley Nicolson VC DFC

Wing Commander James Brindley Nicolson VC DFC

Despite the length and ferociousness of the aerial combat, Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson was the only RAF pilot to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the Battle of Britain. Indeed, he was the only member of Fighter Command to receive the prestigious award throughout the whole of the Second World War. So who was James…

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