Friday, July 31, 2009

Nottingham - Labour's Invisible Man?

People in glass houses shouldn’t, I’m told, throw stones, so with all the fuss over absentee councilor, Stephen Broadhurst, commuting between his businesses in Thanet and Panama, I’m amused to see that our local paragon of political virtue, Cllr Mark Nottingham enjoys a council attendance record which isn’t so very different.

I thought I might write this broadly in Cllr Nottingham's political blogging style with a few characteristic 'tongue-in-cheek' touches of my own, so where ‘Our Man in Panama’ has only managed to make an appearance at council on 40% of occasions, which is poor. In the pink corner, Cllr Nottingham has only managed to don bicycle clips and find his way to our council chamber 55% of the time, which isn’t so much better.

While the peripatetic Cllr Broadhurst has to navigate his way back to Margate, from the steaming jungles of Central America, which is irregular to put it kindly, the energetic Cllr Nottingham, avoids unfriendly natives by using an environmentally friendly bicycle to travel from some uncharted and secret location, hidden from the eyes of the electorate which he shares with Lord Lucan, Shergar and all of the socks that disappear in the wash!

Local councillors, normally publish their home address and contact telephone number and I took a call as I was writing this from one Westgate resident. The ‘Hard-working’ but frequently absent, Cllr Nottingham has his address as ‘Thanet District Council, Cecil Street, Margate’ and his telephone number is that of the South Thanet Labour Party Office. Some might argue, this is of little political or material benefit to the residents of Northwood, should they not be card carrying members of the Labour Party or wish to try and find him outside working hours; which in my experience is when many of calls to councillors are taken!

Given his visibly poor council attendance record and the demands of his work as a full-time Labour Party member, perhaps Cllr Nottingham might consider resigning? If he did, would anyone notice his absence, I suspect not.

So let’s not have any more of the ‘mud-slinging’ rhetoric from the self-righteous and self-acclaimed ‘hard-working’ councilor for Northwood. I’m reminded of Blunkett, Byers and many other former Labour Ministers, who also started their political careers as councilors, parachuted into safe wards as equally stalwart Labour Party workers, before being shunted-up the Party hierarchy toward the ultimate goal of Parliamentary selection and generous expenses for life.

If Cllr Nottingham turned-up in council a little more often, he would be entitled to pass comment on policy but until then, perhaps he might spare us the constant stream of exaggerated outrage at opposition ‘Tory’ councillors or the ‘Tories’ in general; this from a councilor who is frequently invisible, contributes little, very occasionally turns-up in the council chamber and whose real address remains a mystery in uncharted space to all.

It’s all about Labour’s desperate rhetoric, ‘hang on by your fingernails’ to your seat and try anything possible to divert attention from the crumbling disaster of a failed Labour Government, which will, within a very short period, plunge millions of really hard-working people into poverty, unemployment and chronic debt for many years to come. And if you don't believe me, then ask the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Audit Commission!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

From One End of The Truth to Another

Prompted by my comments in the Thanet Gazette on Friday, there's an outburst of political hyperbole on Cllr Nottingham's weblog this weekend.

Along with the suggestion that Man never walked on the moon and little green men crashed their flying saucer at Roswell in New Mexico, we have:

"Cllr. Moores has confirmed there is a proposed policy on local blogs. I think he should publish his draft at the earliest opportunity. This will allow for the widest possible consultation. By keeping the plans secret for as long as possible, he is limiting debate on a matter of legitimate public interest."

This is, I'm afraid the usual left wing rhetoric I have come to expect from Clr Nottingham's weblog, straying from the facts and reflecting the political style of the Labour Party nationally.

First there's no tangible policy on a Blogs protocol that I'm aware of at present, even a draft. It's the same discussion that I'm sure he has shared,like me, with the monitoring officer on several occasions.

Secondly, what I have said quite clearly and repeatedly is that I believe all councillors, Nottingham included, have a public duty to be both courteous and responsible and should not responsibly permit (through unmoderated blogs), defamatory and malicious personal comments to appear concerning other councillors.

Thirdly, there's no suggestion of censorship of any kind. - This is ironic coming from a Labour Party which does everything in its power to control the media. - This is simply a legitimate concern from the council officers, that a blogging code of conduct, in terms of common courtesy, respect and moderation, would be a step forward in improving the atmosphere of local politics.

Call me old-fashioned if you like but I consider grown-up, polite, intelligent and perhaps even a little humourous debate to be more productive than Blog headlines such as "Cllr 'N' Embarrasing Birchington", where you will now have that statement sitting on the internet forever, for no good reason other than cynical political malice.

Before I go, there's been some passing comment on the weblogs, Cllr Nottingham's included about 'sneaked-in' increased parking charges.

Readers and opposition politicians may have noticed a financial crisis in the economy which impacts local councils but that's besides the point.

I'm informed by council officers that short stay, on street parking charges were:

- 30 mins - 50p

- 1 hour - 90p

- 1.5 hours - £1.30

- 2 hours - £1.70

In consultation with leading members of the Thanet traders group the charges have been revised and are now:

- 10 mins - 20p (minimum charge)

- 13 mins - 25p

- 30 mins 45p

- 1 hour - 90p

- 1.5 hours - £1.35

- 2 hours - £1.80

You'll notice the important 30 minutes to 1 hour charges. This is actually 5p cheaper and there's now a minimum charge for a ten minute stay, so you don't have to pay 50p anymore.

All in all, this is what the traders were happy with and I'm happy to pay 20p rather than 50p when I drop into the bank. However, please note the levels of exaggeration about these charges elsewhere and draw your own conclusions when it comes to other stories and such 'facts' you may read from the same sources.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Great Newport Airlift

One of those days!

I had the Lowestoft Airshow to do this morning and there's a full council meeting this evening, so trying to fit in a 'spectacular' for the RMT Trades Union in between, presents a bit of a challenge.

Last night I was asked, if I could drop food parcels into the Vestas' UK, Newport, Isle of Wight wind turbine facility, which employs about 600 people in blade manufacturing and where 25 or so workers are into the fourth day of a sit-in protest. I explained that unlike the Berlin Airlift, the only thing you can legally drop from an aircraft in this country are poppies or cremated human remains, and as neither are particularly edible, that particular avenue for relieving the siege was closed.

This afternoon, I had another call from Newport. This time, would I fly a banner with "SAVE OUR JOBS - SAVE OUR ISLAND" past the facility at 6pm tonight to coincide with a visit and a speech from RMT Union leader Bob Crow.

Pulling the stops out, I can help but as I'm due at our full council meeting at the same time, I have had to pull in another pilot to take my place. He's making up the banner now while I type this entry and wade through the council documents for this evening.

Once the banner's finished and he's en-route, I have to call Bob Crow with an ETA and so as long as the strengthening wind speeds don't get in the way, I might catch the result on the late evening news.

Vestas sit-in: Plane With Banner Flies Over Vestas from Ventnor Blog on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sgt Duffy's Story - Westgate 1944

More information on the April 1944 Liberator crash has been kindly supplied by aviation historian Annette Tison who has been exchanging emails with Steve Duffy, the son of tail gunner Sgt Robert Duffy .

I've reproduced her letter below and attached the letter from Lt Gurwitt for our local history enthusiasts

Annette writes:

"The first attachment is a photo of Sgt Robert Duffy. Steve says that after his convalescence in England, he returned home for a three week furlough, then left “to report to a rest camp in Miami.” From a postcard written to him in 1945, it may be that he went to the U.S. Veterans’ Home at Bay Pines, St. Petersburg, FL, so that may be the location of the photo.Next, Steve says that his Dad was discharged in Nov. 1945, after spending the period from the crash to that time in rehab and “light duty.”

On discharge, he asked for a disability determination, and was denied. He made several efforts over the years on that subject, primarily because of recurring back problems, and the VA denied those requests up until his death. As part of that effort, he received a letter from Marvin L. Gurwit. (see below)

At the time of the letter, Mr. Gurwit was 1st Lt. Gurwit, Air Corps Reserve. Although his intent was to help Sgt Duffy qualify for a military disability determination, Gurwit also gives many previously unknown details about the events leading up to the crash and the crash itself.

Looking at a map of France and England, if the plane got damaged by flak over Dunkerque, then the landing field at Manston, with its extra-long, extra-wide runway, would have been a logical landing field for the pilots to aim for. They would have had to pass Manston to get to the Thames estuary, which Lt Weinheimer said Marshall wanted to head for.

"He said that just prior to the flack hitting the plane, an officer, probably the pilot, called him forward, although he either did not know or did not remember why he was given that order. He said that moving towards the front of the plane is what saved him. He said that after the plane was hit it "spun in," making it difficult to do anything during the descent. He said that it was a good thing he had gotten forward past the oxygen tanks mounted directly forward of his tail gunner position (that is, to his back when facing aft) on both sides of the interior of the fuselage because he thought the tanks exploded.

From his descriptions and looking at a replica, he was probably either on or just forward of the catwalk that runs from aft to forward above the bomb bay doors. He also said that whatever hatch or opening he squeezed through after the crash was too small, but in spite of that he got out of the plane anyway and may have stayed out of the water, or maybe only was in shallow water where he exited. He had marks on his lower back (old scars that looked something like “stretch marks”) that he said were the result of pulling himself out of whatever he used as an exit.

He was badly hurt by the crash (broken back and other injuries) which may be part of the reason that he did not have clear memories, just fragments, of the crash, exit and wait for help.
He definitely did not want to talk about what happened after the crash. His brother, who was a driver and mechanic for Gen. Patton’s chaplain, said Duffy had a very tough time dealing with being alive while so many of his buddies died. He may well have felt guilty about not being back with the other gunners."

I've attached is a photo of Sgt Duffy's A2 jacket. On the right is the emblem of the 392nd Bomb Group, a knight riding a bomb. I can't quite make out the emblem on the left; Steve's brother is going to take a closer look at it and let me know what it is. Dona, did your father have an A2 jacket like this one?

The fourth photo is dated 10 June 1944 and shows Sgt Duffy being presented an award by the 392nd BG commander, Col Irvine Rendle. It could be the Oak Leaf Cluster to his Air Medal (since the 27 April mission was his tenth) or perhaps his Purple Heart.The last item is a photo of Sgt Duffy in the foreground with other men in the background. The men are standing in front of a Nissen hut, so the photo might show other enlisted men of the Weinheimer crew, but I have no way of knowing for sure. "

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Little Brain

Listening to Channel 4. News this evening, with news of the appalling security lapses at Broadmoor and the usual litany of public sector failings, I wonder why our society constantly accepts such feeble excuses?

"Staff have been written to, reminding them of their responsibilities" or "We will be taking urgent action", it's the same old story, Baby P,Broadmoor, infected hospitals, 'Foot & Mouth' disease, lost data discs and much more.

A fundamental part of the malaise lies at the door of our great European Union; you simply can't get rid of the inept and incompetent. It costs too much, they have rock solid employment protection rights and if it's the public sector, then moving out the low performers is even harder and you are probably looking at a £250,000 employment settlement to remove an incompetent or lazy senior manager. It's just too expensive or difficult to get rid of underperformers.

So, when a schizophrenic murderer is released from Broadmoor of all places, supposedly 'cured', and promptly returns home to dismember his neighbour and eat his brain, fried, with a little butter, it's the usual apologies and hand-wringing and nobody is sacked.

The Americans think we are daft, believing such generous employment protection in the wider European style, only encourages mediocrity and a diminished sense of both responsibility and accountability.

Has the pendulum of employment protection swung too far in Europe? From the time of the Tolpuddle martyrs, two hundred years has been spent in quite rightly protecting the workforce from employment exploitation but have the roles now reversed: Is such protection now leading to the exploitation of the workplace by an unaccountable workforce? It's a controversial idea but how else can one explain the gross failures that now make up a regular part of our news diet?

What do you think?

Fudging the Figures

The catastrophic state of public finances were revealed today, just in time for Parliament to escape for its summer recess and avoid the embarassing questions surrounding the loss of the nations capital, pensions and collective savings.

Any way, you look at the picture, the view is a bleak one, with one million people now reportedly on part-time working. At the same time people are still failing to grasp the extent of the mess we are in and the equally harsh fact that local councils are in much the same position as the average household, in having to count the pennies very carefully indeed.

Why can't you do 'this' or 'that' people ask me? The answer is that there's no money available to do what everyone asks and we can't get an Ocean Finance loan either! McAfferty's cat, otherwise Gordon Brown has spent all the money and if you are lucky enough to have anything left by the end of this financial year, he'll be coming after that too in the next budget.

I was in London yesterday and the betting is on an April General Election, when you'll have your chance to tell McAfferty to either sling his hook or try and climb out of the hole his prudent fiscal policies and 'Golden Rules' have dug for us all. By then, the true size of the problem will have broken on most people and Government won't be in a state to fudge the figures any further.

This week's Norwich Parliamentary by-election is going to be a revealing test of public opinion. Labour's candidate, Chris Ostrowski, is being treated in hospital for suspected swine flu and perhaps the best possible advice to give him is to stay in bed and watch it happen on TV!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blown Away

Today is the date of the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs rally in Dorset but the howling gale outside put an end to any idea of flying two of the trades union banners over march in the tiny village.

For the last three years, Tolpuddle has been "iffy" from a weather perspective but having taken two aircraft down there this morning; landing at the top of the large hill which is Compton Abbas, it became quickly clear that we weren't going to have a miracle pause in the windspeeds.

'Violent' was possibly the best description I can give of the turbulence and with gusts of 30 knots along the runway at Compton, no chance of flying any banners. Should have stayed in bed!

Meanwhile, back at home, I was listening to a rather bizarre interview on Sky News on the topic of swine flu. The Sky presenter was asking the Government spokesperson why we weren't taking the same precationary measures as any other pandemic and she replied that in most cases, swine flu presents itself in the mild form. "But" argued the news presenter, it's not particularly mild if you happen to be one of the few apparently healthy people who has died from it", after all, death is the worst possible form of ill-health!

Placing the present flu pandemic in perspective and to be honest, I understand where the Government is coming from but I think they have handled their initial response to the flu badly and haven't given worried people the impression that the counter-measures are as joined up as they should be to inspire public confidence.

Finally, I note that with all the hot-air talk of supermarkets acting responsibly on alcohol sales, Tesco is offering 24 cans of premium lager for the modest price of £10.00.

Now I enjoy a beer with the next man and I'm particularly looking forward to my Sunday dinner, having missed lunch in the air. However there are young people out there who would see drinking 24 cans of lager for only £10.00 as a challenge that shouldn't be ignored on a weekend and I'm dismayed that Government continues to let the big supermarkets get away with such loss-leaders when the impact on our public health, particularly here in Thanet is so visibly stark and depressing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Better Job than We Did

Congratulations to the students at Westgate's Ursuline College for winning our Kent schools, 'Young Apprentice' competition; reworking the ground that we watched on the BBC recently but with a winning slogan for Thanet's beaches: "More than meets the eye."

It's reported in the Thanet Gazette that Apprentice contestant, Mona Lewis, who acted as one of the judges, commented: "They definitely did a better job than we did on the Apprentice."

Well done Ursuline!

Back on Earth and after a walkaround the 'Pride' event in Margate this afternoon, I've just caught the end of a programme on the Apollo 11 mission on the BBC.

For me, the Apollo missions had an important influence on my life. I remember, age 13, staying-up all night to watch the landing. I was very much into the whole space 'thing' from Gemini on. For Apollo 11 I had a special moon mission pack which I studied religiously and included all the flight details and even some checklists and sadly enough, I can still recall some of the engine start sequences for the command module: "Inject prevalves on...." etc. At 53, I wish my memory was good enough to completely memorise the full sequences on the DA42 I will be using for my instrument flight test at Cranfield in the next two weeks. I have to confess that I've now explored the limits of my own abilities. Most commercial pilots take the IR exam in their early twenties and the ageing 1960's processor, which is now my brain, is struggling under the workload.

For example and 'under the hood' with critical instruments turned off, a 120 degree compass turn should take forty seconds with the stopwatch going; " 120/3.. easy no? But under stress it might as well be "1211122223/3"

We all notice a gradual physical decline as we get older but the mental side is far more insidious and at times it's disheartening to watch oneself making mistakes as the brain becomes so preoccupied with processing information, that it has no spare capacity and can't accept any more inputs. Tasks are either dropped or done in the wrong sequence; what's called an action slip.

Thinking back another thirty years and thanks to the internet I've a reunion this month in London with the friends from both sides of the Atlantic, that I went to university with in the States. As one put it in an email to me yesterday, "Biggles old mate, I'm sure it will be a mixture of beers and tears."

Friday, July 17, 2009

March of the Flu

Yesterday's 'flu-like' symptoms may indeed have been an advanced case of hypochondria bought on by the BBC News but the media is now giving us a sense of inevitability in regard to catching the flu virus, either mildly or more aggressively, depending, I suspect on one's age and potential immunity.

With predictions now based on some 30% of the population being affected by the flu in one form or another and with schools now showing a marked acceleration in reported cases, I thought, that as the member responsible for customer services it would be sensible to explore our own council's state of readiness to deal with the impact of a flu epidemic.

This is a personal note rather than any 'official' view on the emerging situation and as you might expect, our own council has a business resilience plan in place and I've made some small suggestions of my own, such as alcogel stations in public areas, so with luck, people shouldn't notice any significant or problematic business interruption to service if the virus spreads in the population in line with Government predictions.

I'm getting a sense of the health service at large being placed under growing strain by people who think they may have the virus and would advise anyone worried about it to visit the Direct.Gov website here and read the information first. It should hold most of the information you need. As for me, I'm stocked-up with a packet of Lem-Sip 'Flu' just in case!

If you had problems getting through to the customer services number yesterday, then that wasn't a consequence of the flu, rather, I'm told, it was the result of a broken fibre optic cable which connected the council's switchboard with the outside world and it took BT's engineers some considerable time to locate it (a break in a piece of sphaghetti) and fix it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chatham A Photo Free Zone

If like me, your'e worried by the steady and unstoppable growth of a Police and surveillance state under this Government, then this week's daft story comes from The Register and features Chatham, where Kent Police set a new legal precedent last week, as they arrested a photographer on the unusual grounds of "being too tall". (see photo)

According to his blog, over-tall photographer Alex Turner was taking snaps in Chatham High St last Thursday, when he was approached by two unidentified men. They did not identify themselves, but demanded that he show them some ID and warned that if he failed to comply, they would summon police officers to deal with him.

On the issues of what a citizen may lawfully do in the High St – whether ID must be supplied on demand, and whether photographing a police officer, or even being too tall, was grounds for arrest – neither Chatham nor Kent would provide any further comment. Kent police appeared especially unhappy at providing the public with any guidance as to what constituted an offence.

Last month of course we had the newspaper report of two Japanese tourists being detained under the current anti-terorism legislation for the more serious offense of photographing a red London double-decker bus in a built-up area. Proof positive that the lunatics are now happily running the asylum which we loosely refer to as the United Kingdom. It would of course been far more sensible to arrest them for wearing Burberry accessories instead!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Planning Ahead

The planning committee meets this coming Wednesday evening and one of the items on the agenda is a contentious one, involving an application for structural changes to 25 Streete Court in Westgate.

The residents have approached Cllr King and asked if he would speak on their behalf and the applicant, another resident, has approached me and asked the same.

Many people and perhaps the majority of the local population, don't realise that they can ask their local councillors to represent them in such circumstances and frequently it's a sensible idea.

Invariably and when it comes to emotive subjects, such as planning applications, residents may often squander their three minute speaking opportunity with objections that are not material to the planning process, which is governed by a strict framework of rules and regulations. Too strict many might say.

Taking a step back and giving your arguments to your local councillor is one way of ensuring that the three minutes is argued to best effect and doesn't become a litany of complaints rather than a series of valid objections.

I imagine, that I may appear in this week's local paper as taking sides on a hot topic but the reality of the matter is that it's up to the planning committee to make the final decision and for the local councillor to frame the argument, quite impartially for whoever he or she might be representing, rather like a lawyer in court.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Well Received

The Department of Education or is that the Department of Schools, - education being viewed as a form of elitism - constantly tells us that examination standards are improving. When I left school in the dark ages of 1974, 'A' Level passes at grade 'A' were almost remarkable and I recall, how much I struggled with English Literature essays.

So, this morning, I'm surprised to see one newspaper story which tells us that research from Exeter University has discovered the 'bleedin obvious' that if 'kids don't speak and spell proper', then their prospects suffer, both in their examinations and in trying to find a job after leaving school. Apparently, thanks to the relaxed standards regime of the last decade or so, many children are writing down their words as they would speak them and it's far from any collective idea of standard or 'received' English.

Here are some examples giving concern to the examiners:

English literature A-level

"It's like, yea, Cleo is a player" – referring to Cleopatra in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra

"He's always spouting off" – referring to Orsino from Twelfth Night

"So anyway, Viola's had it with Olivia and is fuming with her." question on Twelfth Night

"Hamlet is a laid back mummy's boy who needs to move on."

GCSE English

"Heani referz 2 poetri as wen humn xperiens cumz 2 life" – an essay on Seamus Heaney's poem Digging

"I was well bored."

"f*** off"

Now, I can't imagine for one moment, even being entered for an 'A' Level English examination if my vocabulary was as limited as the examples above. It's not a matter of elitism, it's one of expression and opportunity and suggests that the system is letting children down very badly indeed. After all, even the workhouse schools of the 19th century, would expect children to be able to recite their multiplication tables and have a basic command of the structure of the English Language, both written and spoken.

Finally, having watched the BBC series Torchwood, for the first time on Friday, has anyone noticed a dramatic, political or indeed social engineering connection between, Torchwood, Dr Who and East Enders? There's enough content there I believe, for a university thesis on how the BBC appears to be following a particular agenda in shaping our view of contemporary society.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hard Times Ahead

It's been a bit quiet here of late. I've had a fair amount of council work to deal with and I'm in the middle of the busy flying season, although today's weather doesn't look too hopeful for the Durham Miners' annual march, a marriage proposal at Bagshot and a 'Congratulations' banner over Brighton Marina.

Meantime, I've been spending rather alot of time either in the SIM or flying practise instrument procedures in preparation for my up and coming flight tests at Cranfield. Below, for the technically-oriented, I've embedded a quick clip of the Citation jet simulator I was sitting in the other day, as it warmed up and positioned itself on the runway at Cranfield. Sort of Microsoft Flight Simulator X 'on acid'!

Earlier in the week, I was at a meeting of cabinet members of local councils from around Kent at Canterbury. Once again, the message was made very clear to us all in a presentation. Central Government is now short of at best £50 billion and more likely £90 billion. The levels of cost savings required of local government in the next two years are quite "unprecedented" in modern times and while the Chancellor, Mr Darling stubbornly refuses to announce the true figures in advance of any General Election, the public remain quite unprepared for the true impact of the recession that now surrounds us.

There's very little doubt that we will see a new Government take the reins of power in the next twelve months or so but any incoming administration will be left to deal with with the consequences of a scorched-earth policy by New Labour; a dangerously wobbling, near bankrupt economy and a fragile dysfunctional society over dependent on State benefits.

At least it isn't raining!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

A Michael Jackson Tribute

Should anyone have missed the recent sad news surrounding Michael Jackson, the Birchington Village Partnership has arranged a special tribute event and competition at King Ethelbert's School in Westgate on FRiday 31st July at 7pm. - see poster.

I'm getting a little too old to audition for moonwalking these days but I've added the date in my own diary, in the hope that perhaps fellow bloggers, Tony Flaig or indeed, even ECR might enter one of the categories.

See you there I hope!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Birchington Park Lane Primary Reunion

Mike King writes:

"I've been a reader of your website for three years or so and find it very informative. I'm an ex-Birchington boy who moved away in my 30s. I'm after a bit of help if possible please?

I was wondering if you could kindly post a mention that for those of us who left Birchington Primary School in 1975 (also known as Park Lane) there is an annual school reunion on Saturday 25th July - we meet at The Powell Arms at midday. Anyone interested can e-mail me on mikeandkarenking(at)

Many Thanks - and I'm pleased to see you're taking the common sense approach re seagulls and litter. We have the same problem here in Beckenham with foxes and squirrels. "

Letter from America

The internet, as we all recognise, has remarkable reach and yesterday I received the following email from Mr Steve Duffy of Glendale, Arizona, regarding the Liberator bomber crash in Westgate in 1944.

"I just wanted to let you know that I stumbled upon your blog in doing some research on my Dad. He was the tail gunner in the crew in the Weinheimer aircraft that went down at Westgate 27 March 1944. I greatly appreciate your postings on this topic. This was his ninth (and, as it turned out, last) mission, but my Dad survived 40 years after the incident. He did not live to see the internet, or the kind of information you and others have posted, but would have been interested. Many thanks, and I hope that if I ever get to England, I can persuade my wife to take a detour to the area-in my mind something of our family’s version of visiting Omaha Beach."

I wrote back to Steve and told him that we discussed ideas for a ceremony, next year, at a meeting of the Margate Charter Trustees on Monday. Perhaps tha might be a good time for a visit!


By a strange coincidence, twenty-four hours later, I received the following email:

"Dear Mr Moores

I also found your blog when searching my father's name. My father was the pilot, Jacob Weinheimer. I just returned home from having dinner with my brother and sisters. I was telling them that I had found a picture of Daddy's crashed plane. You may be hearing from them as they are all older than I, and have better information than the few meagre stories that I was able to drag out of my father.

Part of the story is not quite correct as my father was severely injured in the crash. His co-pilot, George Marshall, was unharmed in the crash and could only be the one speaking with Mr. Smyth after the crash.

Thank you for the Liberator memorial. If my father were alive, he would very much want to be a part of it. The fact that he lost half his crew weighed heavy on him the rest of his life."

Dona Weinheimer Cox