Saturday, 23 May 2015

Photo of last wartime raid discovered

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Photo of last wartime raid discovered 

With the 70th anniversary of VE Day still fresh in our minds from a fortnight ago (did anyone see the celebrations on the B.B.C. and particularly the veterans' march past the Prince of Wales - what about that old boy at the end who insisted on getting out of his wheelchair to shake hands with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall?!  What a chap!), it's easy to forget that the war was still raging in Europe almost right up until the moment of surrender on the 7th May.



Photograph discovered of 'last RAF bomb dropped on Germany'

This fact has been brought home again recently thanks in part to the discovery of a previously unseen photograph showing preparations for an RAF bombing raid on the German port of Kiel, with the date (written on the bomb, no less!) of the 2nd May 1945 - only 5 days before Germany's unconditional surrender.  Even more interestingly, this raid - by de Havilland Mosquitoes of 608 Squadron, based at Downham Market in Norfolk - has been confirmed as the last hostile operation undertaken by Bomber Command in the Second World War, so this photograph is most definitely an important historical document of the very last days of the conflict.



It was a fitting closure to aerial operations in the Second World War that Kiel was chosen as the target for this final raid (as it was feared that the remnants of the German Navy would make a last-minute dash for Norway, then still in Axis hands, from the town's large sea port) as it was also one of the very first targets to be bombed by the RAF back in September 1939 (as immortalised in the 1939 British propaganda film The Lion Has Wings, starring Merle Oberon and Ralph Richardson - from which the above clip is taken).

As is the way with newly-discovered photographs we marvel at the snapshot in time that they provide, which in this case is heightened by the knowledge that it was taken less than a week away from one of the defining events of the 20th century - the end of one of the world's bloodiest and all-encompassing wars.  An otherwise everyday wartime activity is thrown into stark relief by the fact that it turned out to be the last such action of the war and one wonders about the awareness of the men in the photo - what were their hopes and feelings on that last raid; did they know it would all be over in a matter of days?  We'll likely never know the answer to that question now since the original owner, pictured in the photo, passed away in 1979 (having, like so many of his generation, never talked about his experiences) but nevertheless it's welcome news that an historically-important image has been found and saved for the nation, fittingly in this the 70th anniversary year of the war's end.

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Strange Case of the Strikingly Similar Silk Ties; plus a chance to be well-heeled

Well hello, everyone!  Sorry I've been a bit quiet this weekend; as I said I had a couple of posts lined up but I felt quite run down last week so I ended up spending the whole May Day weekend at my parents', recharging my batteries.  A very relaxing three days were spent lounging in the garden, doing the charity shops in Leigh and popping into the local bi-monthly vintage fair (not much resulting for me, sadly, although the latter had a couple of good stalls with some nice jackets and waistcoats at decent - for these days - prices so I've noted the seller's details with an eye to checking out her own shop in the future).

It was in The Children's Society shop that I found my only score of the weekend, a Marks & Spencer St Michael brand silk tie in what I felt was a pleasing '90s-does-'50s pattern.  It didn't ring any other bells so I paid the 99p and thought no more about it.  When I got back to the folks' place I put it next to the two or three ties I'd bought with me from home and it was only then that I noticed something remarkable about this new one compared to one of the others.  See if you can spot what it is... (cue eerie music)

New tie, right, versus old tie, left

I couldn't believe it - no wonder I liked it so much, I already had one very much like it!  But not exactly the same, you'll notice.  The first tie I'd bought from a charity shop at least ten, if not fifteen, years ago and was originally from well-known men's outfitters Burton.  Now to the best of my knowledge M&S has never owned Burton, although I'm sure they've had Burton concession shops within their larger stores - either way I can only assume that through a strange quirk of fate they've ended up using the same pattern.  Perhaps it was a popular design?  Strange for me to have come into possession of them both over the space of 10+ years, though!


Now, moving on to the second part of this post - "ooh, how is he going to be well-heeled?", I hear you wonder.  Well, this was not a chance for me to be well-heeled but it is a chance for you, ladies!

I'm not often given to advertising on this blog, especially vintage-style ladieswear because obviously I don't have such things.  But mother does!  Shoes, to be precise, in a spiffingly attractive brogue heel design.  Alas, despite being in her size (UK 5½, EU 39) they no longer fit her comfortably so she is reluctantly getting rid of them.  "Oh, the girls who read your blog would like these, will you mention them on there?", I was asked, and I was happy to oblige!  Egads, I'd have had 'em if I was a 5½ and looked good in heels! 

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Mater's just put them on Ebay today, so they're fresh from the wardrobe.  The main details (on the listing but I'll repeat them here):  produced in Italy for Jones the Bootmaker, so really well-made (the soles still look to have a lot of life left in them, and the overall quality's top notch); 3-tone brogue design (two shades of tan/light brown - mum's put the dark colour as black, I wouldn't swear to it not being dark chocolate brown but it's hard to judge); 2½-inch heel.

Mother's described them as "vintage style" and we can both see them really suiting a 1930s, '40s or '50s bookish look - perhaps with a tweed suit/skirt, maybe?  So if you're a size 5½ why not high yourself over to the E of Bay for a look?  They deserve to go to a good home!

Right, enough hawking.  I hope to return ere long with stories featuring Spitfires, Mosquitoes and steam trains.  In the meantime I hope you all had a splendid May Day holiday and I look forward to catching up with all your posts!

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