THE 75th ANNIVERSARY Of The Battle of Britain

“The Battle of France is over – The Battle of Britain is about to begin” 

Following the evacuation from Dunkirk the British Army was a defeated army, being made up of around a third of a million demoralised men, minus their kit, and in most cases; their rifles and small arms. The Germans had a two-week window [Operation Sea Lion] in which they could have invaded England.

The Germans didn’t know the presence and true strength of the Royal Navy so they decided to delay.  Unknown to the Germans their e-boat strength was superior to the Royal Navy’s having newer and faster boats with better weapons.  Even the Royal Navy’s cruisers with their heavier guns would have been in danger from Stuka dive-bombers.

Furthermore Sir Hugh Dowding [commander of the RAF] had bluffed Germany into thinking there were more RAF reserves than there really was.  This was the main reason the invasion didn’t start in the last two weeks of September; as Hitler didn’t believe he would have full command of the skies.

This led to a failure to invade on Germany’s part because unknown to them; they had blown it – after the 1st October the wind and tides change together with weather conditions and by the following spring it would be too late.  Britain’s bluff would have gained valuable time for the armed forces to recover.

The Battle of Britain [10 July] Begins

Therefore instead of Operation Sea Lion Adolf Hitler ordered Herman Goering [leader of the German Luftwaffe] to launch Operation Eagle Attack.  The Luftwaffe started off attacking shipping off the British coast and then the airfields and control centre’s of Fighter Command, then Bomber Command, and then aircraft related industrial targets in the south of England.

Nearly 3000 RAF pilots [mostly inexperienced] served with fighter command [average age 20] led in formation by a Wing Commander against the experienced Luftwaffe whom referred to these tactics as ‘idiotic!’  The odds were stacked against Britain but the RAF did have lady luck, radar and the ‘Spitfire.’

Firstly the Spitfire which the Germans under estimated was the only British fighter which could confront the Bf 109 on equal terms.  The Luftwaffe’s Bf 109’s flaw was its poor fuel load and economy. It was limited to 20 minutes over English territory before having to return home.

Secondly in Britain’s favour was the fact that if a German pilot was shot down, even if he survived he was captured and lost to his side forever.  Whereas if a British pilot were shot down and survived he could be up the next day and in some cases later the same day.

Thirdly the RAF had the advantage of fighting over their own territory and ‘Radar.’  The Luftwaffe’s intelligence didn’t know how developed Britain’s radar was.  It is estimated that around 1,000 British planes were shot down during the battle, while over 1,800 German planes were destroyed.  

“If the British bomb our cities, we will bury theirs.”

Lastly ‘lady luck,’ because if it hadn’t been for one lone German bomber who veered off course and inadvertently jettisoned their bombs over London, Winston Churchill would never have ordered the retaliatory bombing of Berlin.  Therefore Britain would surely have lost the Battle in the skies.

Much to the amazement of stunned Berliners, on the night of August 25th, 81 British Hampden bombers appeared over Berlin and delivered a blow to the heart of Germany.  Hitting the Nazi’s hard hurting Hitler’s Ego.  Hitler immediately hit back stating, “if the British bomb our cities, we will bury theirs!” 

Hitler just didn’t know how close he had really come to destroying the RAF.  A massive series of raids [7th Sept1940] involving nearly four hundred bombers and more than six hundred fighters targeted docks in the East End of London, day and night. The raids were code named ‘Operation Loge.’

By bombing London the RAF had for the 2nd time recovered.  The Luftwaffe drew the RAF [15th Sept1940] into the most concentrated battle of annihilation.  Around 1,500 aircraft took part which lasted until dusk.  The RAF continued to deal the Germans terrible losses.  The action was the height of the Battle of Britain where the RAF was victorious. 

“Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few”

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IMG_20150903_143148Article – The Kelpies

The world’s largest equine sculptures – The fresh breeze in the air cooled me down, as I cycled under the by-pass, and when I emerged from the other side, I got my first glimpse of the kelpies in the distance. I could smell the salt in the air, which was reminiscent of arriving at the sea side as a child. As I neared my destination, the breeze changed to a head-on whirl, coming off the sea lock.

Excitedly, I changed gear, as I struggled against the wind, until I reached the first sign post, which read – ‘you are now in the Kelpie Hub!’ I could feel the chill coming off the water as I trundled over the wooden arched bridge. Impressed by the awesome site in front of me, I eagerly parked my bike up.

First I ventured round those magnificent metallic horses heads, encircled by their own moats. Seeing coins glistening in the water, I smiled, and dropped a penny in – ‘plonk.’ I made a wish on an ever decreasing circle, as my coin sank to the bottom…

Next I wandered round the landscape gardens, mostly low maintenance ferns and young birch, floored with bark chips. Very pleasing to the eye, especially with the marvellous art work in the background. Written in stone, the words – ‘Stretch up your long necks to face the sun,’ – and – ‘Bow down your strong heads to taste the water.’ I felt emotionally inspired.

 The Kelpies Tour – The kelpies are the brain child of [artist] Andrew Scott, who takes you on a historic journey involving the local history, history of the canals and the story of the working horses of the area. The best way to enable visitors to explore the complex and internal structure of the Kelpies is to experience a 45-minute guided walking tour.

Ticket Prices:

  • Adult [16+yrs] – £6.95
  • Child [under 5] – Free
  • Child [Aged 5-15] – £4.00
  • Concessions – £6.00
  • Family [2 Adults, 2 Children] – £21.00

Tour Booking – Tickets are sold on the day from the Visitor Centre at The Helix. Alternatively, pre-book your tickets online at http://www.thehelix.co.uk, or contact The visitor centre on 01324 590600 for further information. The visitor centre is now open 10:00am to 5:00pm, 7 days a week. Tours run every 30 minutes from 10:30am to 4:30pm [except noon] – Address: The Helix, Falkirk. FK2 7ZT.

 How to Get There:

  • By Car if you are driving on the M9 [sign posted] close to Grangemouth and Falkirk, you can see the Kelpies from the motorway.
  • By Train from Edinburgh to Falkirk Grahamston [45 minutes] – from Glasgow Queen Street to Falkirk Grahamston [50 minutes] – from Stirling to Falkirk Grahamston [25 minutes].
  • By Bicycle from Falkirk Grahamston to the Helix [10 minutes] turn left onto Grahams road and follow [0.3 miles] – turn right onto Bankside, go through 1 roundabout and follow [0.6 miles] – slight right at Abbots road then slight left [0.4 miles] – turn right onto A9 [0.2 miles] – at the roundabout take the 1st exit, destination will be on the right.

Where to Eat:

  • The Plaza Café [The Helix] is open seven days from March to October 10:00am-5:00pm, and serves a selection of sandwiches, snacks, hot and cold drinks, and ice cream for warmer days.
  • Jambo Grill and Restaurant. Address: 142 Grahams Road, First Floor, Falkirk FK2 7BZ. Contact the restaurant on 01324 612493 or visit http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk.

Where to Stay:

  • The Premier Inn, Average price from £35.00. Address: Main Street, Camelon, Falkirk FK1 4DS. Contact the hotel on 0871 527 8388 for further information.
  • The Graham Hotel, Average price from £25.00. Address: 40 Grahams Road, Falkirk, FK1 1HR. Contact the hotel on 01324 628576 for further information.

 Find Out More:

  • Falkirk: Through Time by [author] Jack Gillon. Using old images juxtaposed with modern photography, author Jack Gillon explores how the town has changed and developed over the years. Amberley Publishing 2015, RRP £14.99.
  • The Life and Times of Falkirk by [author] Ian Scott. [No Review]. Ian Scott was until 1995 the Assistant Principal at Falkirk College where he taught history for a number of years. Edinburgh John Donald 1994, RRP £11.85.
  • Falkirk: A History and Celebration [author] David Elliot. Featuring the stories and events that make up the town’s fascinating history, learn about the personalities, past and present. The Francis Frith Collection 2012, RRP £18.00.

Prices can vary, for further information visit http://www.abebooks.co.uk/Falkirk

THE GOLDEN LEGEND

THE LEGEND

Saint Valentine, as the legend goes, was imprisoned [3rd-century A.D.] by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Rome stated that he was locked up for performing weddings on behalf of soldiers, who were not allowed to marry, believing that married men did not make for lasting soldiers.

Saint Valentine, so it is said, wore a purple amethyst ring, a recognizable symbol associated with love; Roman soldiers would recognize the ring and ask him to perform marriage for them. For his disobedience, Valentine was executed [A.D. 270-on Feb-14] by order of the emperor.

Before his execution he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer Asterius. On the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he wrote the first Valentine’s card himself, addressed to Julia who was no longer blind, and as a farewell – he signed it, “Your Valentine.”

Julia herself planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. Today the Almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship. The expression from “You’re Valentine” developed into a celebration in which lovers express their love for each other by offering flowers, chocolate, and sending cards [Valentine’s].

ROMANTIC OFFERINGS

Due to Saint Valentine, amethyst has become the birthstone of February, which is thought to attract love. Today Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart. Offering flowers like beautiful fragrant red roses will be the first choice, being a symbol of love and passion.

The custom of sending cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts originated in the UK. From February shopkeepers decorate their shops with balloons, cuddly toys, cards, romantic poetry books and colourful knick-knacks. Symbols used today include heart-shaped outlines, doves, and figures of winged cupids.

Valentine’s Day is all about intimacy, love and sharing, bonding relationships and friendships, letting other people know what you feel for them. The verse Roses are red can be traced as far back to 1590, where the cliché Valentine’s Day poem can be traced back to 1784.

Verse from 1590 – [She bath’d with rose’s red, and violets blew, and all the sweetest flowres, that in the Forrest grew].

Poem from 1784 – [The rose is red, the violet’s blue, the honey’s sweet, and so are you. Thou art my love and I am thine; I drew thee to my Valentine: The lot was cast and then I drew, and fortune said it shou’d be you].

Paper Valentines became so popular [19th-century] that they were manufactured in factories where lavish Valentines were made with real lace and ribbons. Approximately 60,000 Valentine cards were sent by post in [1835] Britain, despite postage being expensive.

NEW TRADITIONS

The increase of the Internet’s popularity at the turn of the century has created new traditions. People are using cheaper digital means of sending Valentine’s Day greetings. An estimated 15 million electronic valentines such as e-cards, love coupons and printable greeting cards were sent in 2010.

Valentine’s Day is one of our top five days of the year in the UK. Though elsewhere, there is a new tradition that is marked in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. White Day [March 14] is one month after Valentine’s Day, where lonely women have a second chance to receive a gift from a man.

White Day’s official website states that the colour white was chosen because it’s the color of purity, evoking pure, sweet teen love, and because it’s also the colour of sugar. Men give both white and dark chocolate, as well as other edible and non-edible gifts, such as jewellery.

For those who did not receive anything on Valentine’s Day, or any returns on White Day, there is a day for them. It’s [April 14] called “Black Day!” Lonesome singles head to their local Chinese restaurant and console each other over their loneliness while eating, “BLACK NOODLES.”

Cycling Expenses

Cycling Expenses

Dear Sir,

Further to our conversation regarding legitimate travelling expenses, to and from the work place. I have researched into this matter, and believe that organisations may be able to claim money from the government for cyclist’s.

The UK Supreme Court ruled [April 2015] that levels of air quality pollution were illegal, and that 2,000 people each year die early from exposure, from air pollution – ten times the number dying in road crashes.

Furthermore, 80% of toxic pollution comes from traffic, therefore an air quality action plan was drawn up.  The local council must spend at least 10% of their transport budget on active travel.

Scotland is not meeting its climate change targets, and at the moment only 1% of the national transport budget is spent on walking or cycling, and only 2% of trips in Scotland are by bikes.

The Government and local councils must reduce traffic volumes and improve vehicle emissions standards to save lives and protect health.

Hope to hear from you in due course.

Kind Regards

Wm Gillon