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Christmas Greetings 2023

Remembrance Sunday 2023

Sunday, November 12th

Join us here at the museum this year for Remembrance Sunday, November 12th

Poppy fields in front of Shoreham church

A wonderful ‘Wooden Wonder’ pilot

April 28th, 2019

It was a delight on Easter Sunday for Shoreham to welcome Flight Lieutenant Colin Bell DFC, AE, who not only kindly signed items for visitors but also shared many amazing tales from his RAF days, especially his operational experiences flying the magnificent de Havilland Mosquito with The Pathfinders of 608 ‘North Riding’ Squadron from Downham Market. He carried out 50 operations over Germany that included 13 raids on Berlin. Notwithstanding how good the Spitfire was with its Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, Colin loved the fact that with a Merlin powered twin-engined Mosquito, he was essentially flying ‘two’ Spitfires – he maintains that he owed his survival in the air to the ‘Wooden Wonder’.

Colin Bell DFC

Den Layell – a real gentleman from a great generation

February 7th, 2019

It was with heartfelt sadness that the Museum recently learnt that a long-standing Friend and keen supporter passed away. Den Layell was one of our unsung heroes who was incredibly generous in his donations, especially towards the successful ‘Local RAF Memorials Project’ and despite failing health it was a great joy to see Den attending the last memorial unveiling in September 2018.

Den Layell

As a young Londoner, Den became an evacuee during the Second World War and he held RAF Battle of Britain fighter pilots especially in high regard all his life, hence his keen support of the memorials. Den also never forgot his experiences as an evacuee and he was always happy to share his stories and as a member of ‘The Evacuees Reunion Association’ (now called ‘The British Evacuees Association) Den often gave interesting talks to the public.
Just like the wartime veterans who served and sacrificed so much, Den was from a wonderful generation who helped to keep the ‘great’ in Great Britain. They will forever be missed.

Last of the Battle of Britain ‘Red Eagles’

December 9th, 2018

Recently passed away Battle of Britain veteran Flight Lieutenant ‘Bob’ Hughes DFC AE, who served as an air-gunner with the night-fighter Bristol Blenheims of 23 Squadron (the ‘Red Eagles’), was a great supporter of the Shoreham Aircraft Museum and attended the opening in July 1988 and last visited the Museum at Easter 2018 for its 30th anniversary.

Bob Hughes

Despite the perceived less-glamorous role compared to the Hurricane and Spitfire fighter pilots, Bob always defended the work of the Blenheims during the 1940 ‘Blitz’, as by maintaining patrol lines in the night sky the Luftwaffe bombers were often forced onto divergent flightpaths making it harder for them to find their targets. The 23 Squadron Blenheim crews also did a lot of work helping to introduce air interception radar, which eventually proved such a success in use with RAF night-fighter Bristol Beaufighters and de Havilland Mosquitos.

Bob Hughes

Post-Battle of Britain, Bob had remarkable experiences as an air-gunner, surviving two tours on bomber operations, both in North Africa and Occupied Europe and spells as an instructor. Whilst serving at RAF Pershore as a gunnery instructor, Bob took part in the second ‘Thousand Bomber Raid’ on Essen, when to make up the numbers, Bomber Command had to draw upon personnel and aircraft from training units. Having flown in Vickers Wellingtons during his two bomber tours, Bob’s last op’ was in a 50 Squadron Avro Lancaster that was meant to bomb the ‘Big City’ – Berlin. He hadn’t ever been on a trip to the German capital city, so was keen to go and poke Hitler in the eye even though the Lancaster crew weren’t overly pleased to be heading to the heavily defended target. But on route the Lancaster had to divert to the secondary target of Magdeburg, so Bob still didn’t get to add ‘Berlin’ to his logbook; however, on the return from Magdeburg, the pilot of the Lancaster did divert again to get within sight of Berlin so Bob could at least get a glimpse of the city from the air, much to the protest of the other crewmembers. For his outstanding service, Bob received a well-deserved Distinguished Flying Cross.
Bob will not be forgotten.

Memorial for a Polish Battle of Britain pilot unveiled

October 3rd, 2018

Having previously honoured Battle of Britain pilots from the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the Shoreham Aircraft Museum ‘Local RAF Memorials Project’ has now dedicated a memorial to ‘One of The Few’ from Poland. A magnificent stone memorial was unveiled on 29th September 2018 to honour Flying Officer Ludwik Paszkiewicz VM, KW & DFC, of 303 ‘Polish’ Squadron. He lost his life on 27th September 1940, when his Hawker Hurricane was shot down and crashed on Crowhurst Farm, Plaxtol, near Borough Green in Kent. The dedication service was well attended including representatives from the ‘Polish Airmen’s Association UK’, ‘Polish Air Force Memorial Committee’ and ‘The Children of 303′. The service included a superb and poignant tribute flypast by the Hurricane from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar flown by Clive Denney.

They will not be forgotten

April 15th, 2018
It is a sad fact that as they are now reaching very old age we have to say goodbye to our ever dwindling group of wartime hero veterans. Four veterans recently passed away that the Museum could call friends and supporters were Sydney Pigden, Rodney Scrase, Fergus Anckorn and Adam Ostrowski.

Sydney was an RAF fighter pilot who survived well over 100 ground-attack sorties with 164 ‘Argentine-British’ Squadron, when flying Hawker Hurricane and Typhoon rocket-armed aircraft against heavily defended enemy ground targets. Losses on these missions were high and on several occasions Sydney’s aircraft was damaged by flak, including an incident when he had to land his mighty Typhoon on a forward airstrip in Normandy post D-Day with no brakes or flaps. Due to his high landing speed, he soon ran out of runway, so Sydney had to kick in full rudder to skid his aircraft off to one side in a ground loop and was lucky to avoid either the undercarriage collapsing or flipping over into a violent cartwheel. His successful recovery of his damaged aircraft earned Sydney a well-deserved Mention-In-Despatches. Postwar, Sydney flew Spitfires and took part in the Battle of Britain flypast over London on 15th September 1945. After first visiting the Museum in 2010, Sydney kindly donated his flying logbook and medal’s where they have been on proud display ever since.

Rodney was a proud serving member of 72 Squadron and flew with distinction across the Mediterranean theatre of operations that included the invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Flying Spitfires in air combat, he was credited with four enemy aircraft destroyed and a further three damaged. All his claims were against enemy fighters and included Messerschmitt Me109’s and a Focke-wulf Fw190 and his success in air combat earned him a coveted Distinguished Flying Cross. After completing his tour in mid-1944, Rodney carried out instructor duties teaching air-to-air gunnery in the Middle East before returning to England at the end of the year to serve with No.1 Squadron on escort missions until the war ended. Rodney was a longtime very keen supporter of the work of the Museum, especially the on-going Local RAF Memorials Project and in attending many fund-raising signing events.

Fergus can truly be called a remarkable survivor, not least because he found a way to keep strong against brutal Japanese captivity in the Far East. As a member of the Royal Artillery, Fergus was wounded and captured at Singapore in 1942 by the Japs who eventually sent him to work on the infamous ‘Death Railway’. However, Fergus honed his skills as a conjurer that did much to alleviate the horrors of the prison camps not just for himself, but also for his fellow captives. Once the atom bombs brought Japan to sign a surrender and bring the Second World War to an end, Fergus was liberated and repatriated back home to recover from his ordeal and try and return to a normal life, which was not easy. Fergus eventually built a career in teaching and having been the youngest elected member to the Magic Circle before the war, he became a professional magician. In addition, he also became a Special Constable, where his ‘beat’ included the home of Winston Churchill at Chartwell. Fergus was a very popular and entertaining visitor to the Museum who wowed young and old alike with his sleight of hand tricks.

Adam had a remarkable wartime experience that started out being captured by Russian forces in Poland and ended by flying Spitfires for the RAF. Working as an engineering student Adam had obtained his pilot’s licence, but caught up by the German and Russian invasions of Poland in September 1939, the Russians shipped him off to a labour camp in Siberia. Eventually released when General Sikorski, the Polish leader-in-exile made an agreement with Stalin to release his countryman to help the war effort, Adam managed to secure passage to Great Britain via Murmansk, where he presented himself to the RAF. They taught him to speak English and flight theory (the RAF way!) until he was allowed to fly. After serving with various flying units, in late 1944 Adam eventually gained a proud posting to fly Spitfires alongside his countrymen with 317 ‘Wilenski’ Squadron operating as part of the Second Tactical Air Force in Belgium as they supported the Allied advance into Europe against determined German defence. When the war in Europe ended, Adam and his Polish squadron were based in Germany as part of the British Air Forces of Occupation. Saddened at the fate of his beloved Poland under Soviet occupation, Adam elected to settle in England. His visits to the Museum were warmly welcomed and he was a keen reader of the ‘Friends of The Few’ newsletter, especially when any stories appeared linked to the great fighting spirit of Poland, for which so much was sacrificed in the face of massive adversity.

Sydney, Rodney, Fergus and Adam will ever be fondly remembered at Shoreham.

Memorial for Jack unveiled

September 29th, 2017

As part of its ‘Local RAF Memorials Project’, which seeks to pay tribute to ‘The Few’ who lost their lives within a 10 mile radius of the Shoreham Aircraft Museum, a stone memorial was unveiled on 23rd September 2017 to honour Sergeant Pilot Jack Hammerton of 615 ‘County of Surrey’ Squadron. He lost his life on 6th November 1940, when his Hawker Hurricane crashed at Noah’s Ark, near Kemsing in Kent. The dedication service concluded with a tribute flypast by the Hurricane from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar flown by Clive Denney.

An ‘Eggscellent’ start to the season

April 24th, 2017
The Easter weekend saw several veterans visit Shoreham to help launch the Museum 2017 season in wonderful style.

Bob Hughes

On Saturday 15th April, Flight Lieutenant ‘Bob’ Hughes DFC, made a return visit to Shoreham after nearly 30 years. He attended the opening of the Museum in 1988 and was delighted to be back where once again he proved to be a popular visitor. Bob served as an air-gunner with the night-fighter Blenheims of 23 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. He later went on to complete 2 operational tours on bombers and earned a well deserved DFC.
Johnny Johnson
On Easter Sunday, Shoreham was privileged to welcome on his first visit to the Museum, the last surviving British 617 Squadron ‘Dambuster’ veteran, Squadron Leader ‘Johnny’ Johnson DFM. He was the bomb aimer with Lancaster ‘T for Tommy’, which attacked the Sorpe Dam. Johnny went on to enjoy a long and distinguished RAF career.
Tom Neil
On Easter Monday, the well known Battle of Britain and Malta Hurricane ‘ace’, Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC & Bar, (a Shoreham ‘regular’), kindly attended to meet and greet many visitors and sell a good pile of his varied and splendid books.
That rounded off a superb holiday weekend and greatest thanks goes to Bob, Johnny and Tom for coming to Shoreham with additional appreciation extended to their family members and friends who carried out ‘taxi duties’. A thank you too for Museum and Tearoom volunteers for helping to keep ‘control’ and ensuring the teas and cakes kept flowing! Lastly a thank you to all Museum Friends, supporters and visitors for supporting the events by coming to meet our veteran heroes and helping to raise much needed funds for Museum projects.

Ron Liversage MBE (Mil) – Bomber Boy

March 28th, 2017

It is with much sadness that the Museum recently learnt of the passing of Ron Liversage MBE (Mil) who served as an air-gunner in RAF Bomber Command during WW2. Ron first visited Shoreham in the summer of 2012 and he then became a regular visitor supporting many fund-raising events at the Museum in aid of the Bomber Command Memorial Maintenance Fund.

Ron Liversage MBE (Mil)

Ron was a wonderful character who was both a very proud Scouser and proud of his long RAF service that included flying in Vickers Wellingtons from the besieged island of Malta and with the Desert Air Force in North Africa. He later flew operationally in Europe with the Avro Lancasters of 625 Squadron and his signature adorns the Museum’s Lancaster propeller blade. He remained in the RAF post-war and in 1964 was awarded a well deserved MBE (Military) before he retired in 1971.

It was a privilege for Shoreham to have Ron as a Friend and he will not be forgotten.

‘Spitfire Girl’ visits Shoreham

November 13th, 2016

It was a privilege on Sunday 6th November 2016 for Shoreham to welcome Joy Lofthouse, a veteran pilot who served with the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). Joy flew a variety of RAF aircraft including the superlative Supermarine Spitfire and naval types like the extraordinary looking Fairey Barracuda.

Joy Lofthouse

Joy was kept busy signing books and prints and chatting at length in conversations with visitors; artist and Museum Curator Geoff Nutkins, presented Joy with his original portrait painting of her. The day was a great success with thanks especially to Joy, and additional thanks to Mrs Janet Nicholls who provided our special guest and her driver with a comforting bed & breakfast. Museum volunteer Ken Back did a sterling job providing the on-the-road escort to enable Joy to arrive safely and on time at Shoreham. Appreciative thanks also go to all the Museum volunteers and kitchen and tearoom staff who ensured all went smoothly and a thank you too for all those who supported the event in coming to meet Joy.