Driving back from Kidderminster with Chattie on the Sprinter, I drew up at some lights and two young lads across the road shouted out – ‘Is that a Bugatti?’ Of course,I replied, ‘No, it’s a Singer Le Mans,’ before the lights changed. They shrugged as I moved off as if to say, ‘A Singer Le What?!’ I’ll never know why they thought it might be a Bugatti I was carrying, but was impressed they were interested enough to ask.
Monthly Archives: July 2014
Ground Control and I are going back to Kidderminster tomorrow to pick up the Sprinter (still loaded up with Chattie) after its service. A rather expensive service, as it turns out, but at least we know the Sprinter is good and roadworthy. We had to take it to the Mercedes-Benz dealer, and as I chatted to their Service Advisor, Andrew Brown, he said, ‘My father was in the RAF, too’. Turns out his father, Thomas Royster ‘Roy’ Brown, was a Ground Crew engineer with one of the reconnaissance squadrons. ‘In fact,’ said Andrew, ‘It’s funny you should come today, because I’ve got this with me; it’s from a Spitfire’ and he reached down beside the desk and picked up a piece of equipment that looked like something you might use for technical drawing. See photo:
Andrew explained that his father worked on the photographs brought back by the reconnaissance Spitfires, taking the plates off the aircraft and analysing them, in order to work out the distances and degrees on the photographs and translate them into miles and readable navigation routes. These would then be fed back to the bomber squadrons, pinpointing the target and how they were going to reach it: a vital part of the ability of Bomber Command to get its planes to target successfully. This piece of equipment Andrew is holding, calibrated for this purpose, was used in this way by his father.
Meanwhile, Chattie is in good – if rather overwhelming – company!
As a matter of record, it took me 1 hour 45 minutes to get Chattie onto the back of the Sprinter and firmly tied down, at the end of Pre-War Prescott. Working on my own, it’s hard work, but this was always part of the challenge. We have some modifications to make to the rig, which will make it easier, like loops to go round the wheels instead of wrapping the webbing round. But here, for the record, is the result, which I’m glad to say lasted the whole way home. Here Chattie is shown still tied down on the way to Rygor’s of Kidderminster, for the Sprinter to have its service. Easier to leave Chattie on the back, after all that effort. Here I’m showing off my finished rigging. Not the best, perhaps, but MY best!
Of course the big disappointment for me and my cousins was the fact that the Tiger Moth, G-AFWI/BB814, in which my father learned to fly, was not able to be flown over from Norfolk by its owner Paul Harvey because of the bad weather. My brother Andrew, who lives in the States, was also unable to get over for Pre-War Prescott, though he would absolutely have loved to see the Tiger Moth. Also rained off from the event were my father’s two step-brothers, Derek and Chris, and their wives, and Harry Birkner, a relative on our Grandmother’s side, all of whom were aiming to join us for today. However, we’re hoping that we can meet up with Paul and the Tiger Moth sometime next year, and if Andrew can get over at the same time, that would be fantastic. I will now work on the schedule for next year and see what we can come up with. All heartfelt thanks to Ian Grace of Pre-War Prescott and for Paul Harvey for attempting to make this dream possible – we still hold out for next year!
Pre-War Prescott exhibitd some measure of the spirit of the blitz on Saturday (19th July) as rain lashed down to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning. I arrived on site at around 9.00 with Chattie strapped onto the back of the carrier, thinking that pre-war cars would be a bit short on the ground with the monsoon conditions, but they came pouring in – literally – through the gate, many driven some miles without all-weather hoods. By the time I had unloaded Chattie, with the help of my cousin Alan, I was soaked through to my skin through my rain coat and trousers, and if he hadn’t lent me another one of his, the top half of me would have been drenched as well. Thank you so much, Alan!
We watched through the murk and downpour as the cars swished their way up the hill, their occupants obviously enjoying themselves. But by the afternoon, they were going up dry, and I have a picture etched in my mind of a couple zooming past, the lady passenger laughing in delight, and her white-blonde hair streaming out behind with the speed.
These cars have a special throaty sound, each one with its own voice. No car is just like another; they are individuals with modifications inside and out that have changed them subtly over the years, and each is a character on its own. Many of the owners have kept the same car lovingly over decades, and they have become part of the family, and connected indelibly with family memories. One couple wondered who would look after the car when they themselves were gone, and hoped that one of their children would take on the guardianship. This is a hobby with a lot of love.
Despite the atrocious weather in the morning, around 140 pre-war cars gathered at Pre-War Prescott, many of them going up the hill in the pouring rain. But by early afternoon the clouds lifted at by the evening, those who stayed on for the jazz barbecue were sitting outside overlooking the hill climb and the valley beyond it, in balmy evening sunshine.
More on Prescott to follow.
I’m just finishing off a cup of tea before setting out for Pre-War Prescott. Bad weather forecast means Dad’s Tiger Moth and Chattie will have to meet up another day, but there’s plenty I’m looking forward to at Prescott, quite apart from the huge number of pre-war cars on show and the evening jazz barbecue – including meeting other members of the Singer Sports Car Club, and getting together with my cousins and uncles tomorrow.
Ground Control has checked the rig and I’m ready to go.