Bill Hillman Presents
Forces: Land ~ Air ~ Sea ~ Home
March 2000 Edition
Compiled by Bill Hillman
Wherein we share an eclectic assortment of items gleaned from the
Internet, media and contributing readers.
Please send your ideas and contributions to the
FLASH. . . Editor and Webmaster: Bill Hillman:

1. Blakehill Airfield Lives Again
2. A Place for Heroes: Kilroy Was Here
3. The Aviation Art of Rich Thistle
4. Air Force Ranks (Humour)
5. Fokkers (Humour)
6. Home Front: Radio Entertainment
          i. Radio PSAs
          ii. Lancaster: Pep Cereal Premium for Superman Listeners
          iii. L FOR LANKY: CBC radio exploits of a Lancaster bomber
7. WWII Monument at Plymouth
8. Aviation in Newfoundland and Labrador
9. CATP Museum Honoured by Attractions Canada

1. Abandoned World War Two Airstrip Brings Hope for UK's Wildflower Meadows

The future of Britain's beleaguered wildflower meadows lies in a disused Second World War airfield  once used as a base by the Canadian airforce.

The 235 hectare former Blakehill airfield near Cricklade in Wiltshire will be the site of the UK's largest restoration of an ancient wildflower meadow, meeting 50 per cent of the UK Government's target for restoring ancient meadows over the next decade.

Blakehill's chequered history spans more than 700 years. During World War II Blakehill became a base for Dakotas and gliders, where they prepared for the D-Day and Arnhem landings. After the war it was used as a government research establishment.

Units based at Blakehill during WWII are 437 (T) Husky Squadron, Royal Canadian Airforce, 14/9/44 - 7/5/45, and 127 Royal Canadian Airforce Wing (Spitfires).

Intensified agriculture has resulted in the loss of 97 per cent of UK hay meadows in the last fifty years. Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's restoration of Blakehill will bring back wildflowers such as knapweed, devil's bit scabious and saw wort, butterflies including meadow brown, white-letter hairstreak and orange-tip and birds such as skylarks and curlews. The scrub woodland at the edges of the fields will also attract nightingales, barn owls and reed buntings.

This will be a wildflower haven for everyone to enjoy, as Blakehill will be open to all visitors. It will be a fantastic local asset and only 15 miles from the city of Swindon.

More details are available by following the newsflash link on the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust web page at

2. WWII & Korean War Sites and Stories
--an attempt to find, catalog, publish and save remaining
historic sites & memoirs

Kilroy Was Here  "A Place for Heros"
This site is dedicated to finding, cataloging, publishing and
saving remaining places and memoirs of those times.
Read or submit personal stories.
See or send pictures of important places then and now.
Even read the legends and sightings about Kilroy.
There's a place to search for lost buddies, a place for letters, and
"The Rest of the Story" type anecdotes.

Tribute to Courage By Rich Thistle 1995
3. RICH THISTLE is a Canadian artist and writer, respected for his military & general aviation paintings, watercolor landscapes, automotive art and more. Visit the RICH THISTLE STUDIO to enjoy his paintings and read RICH'S ARTICLES about the people and the aircraft depicted in his aviation images. Purchases limited edition prints, posters and collector plates from his CATALOG.

4.Air Force Ranks

GENERAL: Leaps tall buildings in a single bound, is more powerful than a locomotive, is faster than a speeding bullet, walks on water, and gives policy to God.

COLONEL: Leaps short buildings in a single bound, is more powerful than a switch engine, is just as fast as a speeding bullet, walks on water if the sea is calm, and talks to God.

LT. COLONEL: Leaps short buildings with a running start and a favorable wind, is almost as powerful as a switch engine, is faster than a speeding B-B, walks on water in an indoor swimming pool, and talks to God if a special request is approved.

MAJOR: Barely clears quonset huts, loses tugs-of-war with locomotives, can fire a speeding bullet, swims well, and is occasionally addressed by God.

CAPTAIN: Makes high marks when trying to leap buildings, is run over by locomotives, can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting self-injury, can dog paddle, and talks to animals.

1ST LIEUTENANT: Runs into buildings, recognizes locomotives two out of three times, is not issued ammunition, can stay afloat if properly instructed, and talks to water.

2ND LIEUTENANT: Falls over doorsills when trying to enter buildings, says "Look at the Choo-choo," wets himself with a water pistol, and mumbles to himself.

NCO: Lifts buildings and walks under them, kicks locomotives off the track, catches speeding bullets in his teeth and chews them. Freezes water with a single glance. He IS God!

AIRMAN: Builds the buildings, lays the track and drives the trains, is responsible for arms and munitions, doesn't drink water, only beer. God smiles on him.

5. Fokkers
There I was, surrounded...
A World War II pilot is reminiscing before school children about his days in the air force. "There I was over Germany in 1942," he says, "the situation was really tough. The Germans had a very strong air force. I remember," he continues, "one day I was protecting the bombers and suddenly, out of the clouds, these fokkers appeared. (At this point, several of the children giggle). I looked up, and right above me was one of them. I aimed at him and shot him down. They were swarming. I immediately realized that there was another fokker behind me."

At this instant the girls in the auditorium start to giggle and boys start to laugh. The teacher stands up and says, "I think I should point out that 'Fokker' was the name of the German-Dutch aircraft company."

"That's true," says the pilot, "but these fokkers were flying Messerschmidts."

During World War II, some radio shows, either in lieu of, or occasionally in addition to, airing a commercial, broadcast a PSA (Public Service Announcement) regarding some aspect of the war effort.  In one of Mr. Keen's programs, The Case of the Girl Who Flirted, Mr. Keen spends some time after the program explaining why the listeners had to make their automobile tires last throughout the war.  He  gave detailed instructions on how to conserve tires (e.g., "Don't drive over 35 miles per hour ....") and scotching rumors about plentiful synthetic rubber being just around the corner.

Likewise, on one of the Captain Midnight "Suicide Squadron" episodes, instead of an Ovaltine commercial, there was a detailed discussion of conserving (and recycling) paper.  It was explained how paper could be used in the war effort (e.g., statistics on how many cartons of ammunition cases could be made from paper scrap).

There are other War-related PSAs captured on other shows.  It's interesting to hear these bits of history embedded within OTR shows, like insects in amber.

Contributed by Stephen A. Kallis, Jr.

6.ii.Lancaster: Pep Cereal Premium for Superman Listeners
The British Lancaster bomber was popular enough to be included among the 14 different model war planes Superman listeners might find in their Pep cereal boxes. The colored cardboard prizes also included the Curtis Helldiver & C-54 transport. In all, kids could get 4 British, 2 Russian and 8 American model planes.  (Source: Superman radio programme: 45.01.29)

6.iii.L FOR LANKY: The radio drama exploits of a Lancaster bomber
The CBC radio programme, "L for Lanky," was a very imaginative program which many of us remember fondly from our childhoods.  "L for Lanky" means the Lancaster bomber that was the central figure in the show. It was about a WWII flight crew and their adventures going out on raids with this bomber -- but the "narrator" of the program was the Lancaster bomber itself.   The plane was given a voice and a personality, and it began each show setting up the premise, in a slightly echoed voice with airplane sound behind it, and it always started out by saying "I'm L for Lanky.  I'm a Lancaster bomber....."  And on it went from there, setting up that week's story and then the regular actors as airmen  took over. The voice of Lanky was played by an actor named Herb Gott.  A great example of how well radio tapped into the theatre of the mind - one simply bought the premise without question. Otherwise they were standard WW2 air adventures.  Apparently most of the ETs were destroyed after the war and apparently there is little evidence of the show in the CBC archives. There are rumours of excerpts still in existence.
Suggested by Sam Levene and George Coppen
"Air Force Fans also had their own wartime show, a drama " L For Lanky" sponsored by the Canadian Marconi Company, written by Don Bassett, and produced by Alan Savage. Again true war stories were implanted on a fictional bomber "L For Lanky. This show was almost as successful as "Fighting Navy" and included in the cast were Jack Fuller, Jules Upton, George Murray, Herb Gott, Art Martin and Vincent Tovell."
From Coast To Coast, A Personal History Of Radio In Canada by Sandy Stewart

7. This WWII Monument stands alongside the Armada Monument and the statue of Sir Francis Drake on Plymouth Hoe, one of the worlds most famous landmarks. It consists of a column of granite atop of which is the "unknown airman" - a bronze sculpture of a typical aircrew member in full flying kit, staring cleared eyed and resolutely out over Plymouth Sound. The Monument and this site are dedicated to those men and women who served in the Allied Air Forces during the period 1939-45, both in the air and on the ground.  Within this website you will find a description of the monument and its activities and an outline of the role played by each of the Allied Air Forces involved in the conflict.

8.Aviation in Newfoundland and Labrador
A Brief Look at Air and Army Base Development and World War Two/Post-War Operations
The site has a section on bases with photos and info:
Argentia ~ Botwood ~ Fort Pepperrell ~ Gander ~ Harmon ~ Torbay
Also featured is an Aviation History section.

by Lyndenn Behm
Brandon Sun ~ Saturday, March 25, 2000
Photo by Bruce Bumstead ~ Brandon Sun
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum executive director Stephen Hayter gives the Tiger Moth aircraft a dusting Friday afternoon. The museum was nominated as one of the
best national attractions sites.

Two western Manitoba facilities -- one new and one nearly two-decades old -- have won Attractions Canada awards.

The Asessippi Ski Area and Winter Park north of Russell as well as the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum at Brandon were among five provincial and 41 national winners.
. . .
The museum ... has been in operation since 1981. It pays tribute to the airmen from Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand who trained at 230 sites across Canada during the Second World War.

Executive-director Stephen Hayter says the award will make the museum more widely known across the country. The benefits will be even greater if the museum is selected as one of the national winners next month during the second round of the competition.

"This is a real nice pat on  the back for all the volunteer work that has taken place the last 20 years," he said Friday.

"It means that after 20 years we are getting some real recognition and some real visibility."

The museum has 40-50 active volunteers in addition to the women's auxiliary and about 1,000 members in total, he said.

Museum president Reg Forbes said the museum -- the only one of its kind -- has a lot of educational value, especially for the younger generation, which is unfamiliar with the sacrifices made during the Second World War.

The museum has planes and displays related to the air training program. There is also a short biography of each of the 18,000 airmen who died in war or training.
. . .
National winners will be announced April 28 in Vancouver.

As You Were . . .
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Ex-Air Gunners Association

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