No monthly meetings during this period due to Covid-19 infection, please be safe and well until we meet again.
Last month saw us saying farewell to Dame Vera Lynn, the “Forces Sweetheart” and a National Treasure. (Two Spitfires flew over the funeral procession of Dame Vera Lynn as family, friends and fans said goodbye to the Forces' Sweetheart).
Today, 10th July, is also the date that the Battle of Britain started.
We Shall Remember Them
Ralf Athelsie Pole Allsebrook, born 1920, was the youngest son of George Clarence Allsebrook, a County Court Judge and his wife Dorothy Allnut Allsebrook. They initially lived in Holly Lodge (now a guest house) on Ricketts Lane near the table top tree until around 1940. It was then a part of the Blidworth Parish, later to become Ravenshead. During the stay in Holly Lodge the family attended Blidworth Church and were in attendance when war was declared. Ralf had an entry in Blidworth Parish Church Bazaar Handbook, he wrote “Life is a dream and death an awakening", this was November 1939. He attended Stowe School, a public school in Buckinghamshire. A keen sportsman representing the school rugby team, he also loved Shakespeare and acting. He was complimented in the 1937 school year book for his performance as Brutus and the slaying of Julius Caesar. In 1939 Ralf completed a one year “war degree" before being accepted into the R.A.F.
By 1943 Flight Lieutenant R.A.P. Allsebrook had flown more than 50 missions as a pilot with 49 Squadron Bomber Command and been awarded the D.S.O. and D.F.C.
The summary of this mission is written by Wireless operator /Air gunner Sgt R.L.A Woolgar (Jimmy). “At 1800 hrs on the 14th February 1942, Hampden AE397 - G for George took off from RAF Scampton for a bombing raid on Mannheim. The four crew were: Pilot P/O R.A.P Allsebrook (Rafe) Navigator Sgt P T Stanbridge (Bob) Wop/Ag Sgt R L A Woolgar (Jimmy) and Rear Gunner Sgt J W Wilkinson (Jack)
This trip was regarded as something of a ‘milk run’ – a piece of cake!! The bomb load was duly dropped on the target, a little flak was encountered and Rafe took some mild evasive action but as they were leaving the target area the port engine cut and stopped. Unfortunately, it could not be feathered causing considerable drag to port. A course was set for home but the aircraft lost height from about 18,000 ft. fairly rapidly. At 4,000 ft. all hatches were opened and parachutes clipped on in readiness to abandon the aircraft. However, for some reason the aircraft levelled at that height.
I sent out a message saying that the port engine was u/s and we might be bailing out. Around 0230hrs, some five hours after leaving the target, the starboard engine ran out of fuel and Rafe made a very good landing on the sea. The aircraft very quickly began to fill with water and the crew made the quickest ever exit, standing on the port wing expecting the self-inflating dinghy to pop out, but nothing happened. Bob quickly broke open the wing panel with the heel of his flying boot, put his hand inside pulled out the dinghy and flicked the switch. Slowly the dinghy began to inflate.
Then, a long cord was seen attached to the dinghy and disappearing into the engine. Rafe reached into his pocket, took out a pair of folding nail scissors from a small leather case, hacked the cord free, folded the scissors, carefully put them back into the leather case and restored it to his pocket.
The paddles were found, and hastily used to get the dinghy clear of the aircraft which rapidly sank. In the early morning some cliffs and radar towers became visible. This led to some speculation as to where we were. After some discussion, we thought we were off the Yorkshire coast having drifted too far north by over compensating for the port drag. We put out some yellow fluorescent sea markers. A little later an aircraft was spotted some distance away and a couple of distress flares were quickly let off - but to no avail. Not long after noon, another aircraft was heard, much closer. A Walrus aircraft flew over and waggled its wings several times before flying off. Some two hours later a Motor Anti-submarine boat, came along-side the dinghy and took us on board. Very cold and wet but in high spirits, made even higher by the very liberal hand out of rum rations by the Navy crew. Imagine the surprise being told we were just off the Isle of Wight. The ’drag’ had taken us in a huge curve.
After returning to RAF Scampton, and having some leave, we took the ground crew out to the village pub to celebrate our return - and particularly to thank the fitters of the starboard engine which had held out for so long. After a pint - or two - the ground crew confided that the squadron had never been able to keep a G for George, but of course could not mention this to the aircrew. As it was, the aircraft was lost but the crew were saved.”
Flight Lieutenant Allsebrook transferred to 617 Squadron, composed of volunteers who were specially trained to attack important selected targets. After breaching the Mohne & Eider Dams the squadron became known as the “Dambusters”. Ralf Allsebrook's first mission with 617 Squadron was an attempt with eleven other Lancaster bombers to knock out a power plant and transformer station near Milan on 15th July 1943. On the return trip one engine failed and he returned to R.A.F. Scampton on three engines.
Flight Lieutenant Allsebrook's final mission was on the 15th September 1943, the squadron had re-located to R.A.F. Coningsby in Lincolnshire. The mission to attack the Dortmund-Ems Canal, the object to breach the bank of the canal causing it to empty and leave cargo vessels stranded.
The attack was led by Squadron Leader, acting Wing Commander George Holden; Wing Commander Holden’s aircraft was shot down before the target was reached. Flt. Lieut. Allsebrook, his deputy took charge and found the target covered in haze. After dropping his bombs, he then dropped two parachute beacons which directed two more aircraft onto the target. His own aircraft was then seen to be hit and on fire. Ralf Allsebrook's Lancaster crashed at Bergeshovede, he and his crew of seven were initially buried by the side of the canal in the Evangelical Cemetery at Horstel, later re-interred in the British War Cemetery in the Reichswald Forest.
62267 Flight Lieutenant Ralf Allsebrook D.S.O. D.F.C. is remembered on the Blidworth War Memorial.
This year, from this month in particular, we commemorate 400 years since the Mayflower set sail for the New World – Nottinghamshire County Council are marking this historical milestone with a series of educational, community and visitors’ events over the Summer and Autumn.
For more information see https://www.visit-nottinghamshire.co.uk/ideas-and-inspiration/mayflower-pilgrims
English Puritans (known as Separatists) fled to exile in Holland, feeling they needed to purge the Church of England of many excesses and abuses. Religiously tolerant Holland took them in but England considered them illegal radicals!
A large number of the separatists were members of a church in Nottinghamshire. They fled in the night when they realised that the authorities were aware of their congregation secretly practicing their Puritan form of Protestantism.
The villages of Scrooby and Babworth, in north Notts are 2 of the original homes of the separatists that fled to Holland. Richard Clifton was a minister at Babworth Church 1586-1605; William Brewster, was baptised and married at the St. Wilfred’s Church in Scrooby; William Bradford, the second Governor of the Plymouth Colony, was born in Austerfield.
All of these became leaders and signatories of the Mayflower Compact. This was originally titled the “Agreement Between the Settlers of New Plymouth” and was the first governing document of the Plymouth Colony.
The willingness of the Separatists to travel to America was risky as Jamestown, founded in 1607, had most of its settlers die within the first year. But they were convinced that God wanted them to go!
Once they decided to leave Holland, the plan for crossing the Atlantic would use two purchased ships. A small one, with the name Speedwell, would first carry them from Leiden to England. Then a larger vessel, the Mayflower, would be used to transport most of the passengers and supplies.
The trip to the south coast of England took three days, where the ship took anchor at Southampton on July 26, 1620. From there, the Pilgrims were able to see their larger ship, Mayflower, as it was being loaded with provisions.
Although both ships planned to depart for America by the end of July, the Speedwell had found a leak which had to be repaired.
The ships set sail for America around August 5, but Speedwell sprang another leak shortly after, requiring the ships to return to Dartmouth for repairs.
My dad George Savage. Today would have been his 102nd birthday. He was based in Hong Kong in the Royal Navy in 1941 when the Japanese attacked, six weeks before they bombed Pearl Harbour. (By kind permission of Terry Savage).
The British suffered many casualties during the ‘Battle of Hong Kong’. George was ‘missing believed dead’, and my grandparents Len and Amy Savage who lived at 17 Lyndhurst Avenue Blidworth we’re notified.
When George was finally able to return after escaping Hong Kong to mainland China my grandparents had not been informed that he had survived, so when he turned up on their doorstep in 1942 you can imagine their reaction. Amy fainted, and Len who was working down the ‘pit’ was told that George was home safe and well, left work and returned home. Len then took time off work to be with George. His employer summarily dismissed him! He didn’t return to the colliery until the mines were nationalised.
Following the war George eventually returned to Blidworth, working down the pit and finally working as the caretaker at Joseph Whittaker school where he died in January 1982 at the early age of 63.
Harry Clarke wrote the following after Pearl Harbour:
Dec 8 Mon 1941
Work Sat Afternoon, fire watching at night, at work Sun night. I go fire-watching 2 Sat nights a month. Had to go to “Sheppard’s” house on Sat night blackout is terrible, I don’t suppose anyone dare tell him. On Sun night the Rev. Bogis our minister gave his experiences in the Blitz in London. He said a land mine hit a blacksmith shop & wiped it of the face of the earth. A hammer was found ¾ of a mile away, & an anvil weighing 3cwts was found in another part of the town. He & his wife slept for 9 months in a shelter. On Sun morn the children took some dealing with, Tom Drabble especially but they listened to a Christmas story. I wish someone else would take the job on I am not suitable for it. I am sorry to say I am drifting further from God. Having to work on a Sunday has partly been the cause of it. I have a job to curb my temper. I find in my dealings with men at the pit, when they come in a blustering manor is to speak quietly to them, it instantly disarms them. I believe a lot of people are turning communist. Japan has declared war. I dread to think of defeat, to see Germans in the street & to see people butchered & yet it is quite possible. People go about as if there was no war on. The Churches are empty & when the pub doors are opened, they are like hooligans to get inside so a pub goer told me. The morals of the girls especially young married women whose husbands have been called up are terrible. Ransome & Marles factory at Newark is a byword. The actions of the girls & men going to work on the buses is filthy. The income tax returns have caused a lot of resentment & bitterness. One collier at Rufford has £104 to pay in 26 weeks, I have £15 to pay. One man in the canteen said he had over £3 to pay & he had 5 children, someone looked at his paper & discovered he had earned £40 a month. Received my ration of chocolate from canteen 2 bars of “Ration Chocolate”, 2 ½ d a bar. Had some American canned meat called “Prem” didn’t like it.
As children begin returning to school, after the Summer holidays and that there is building work at Joseph Whitaker, due maybe to Covid-19, let’s look at this school.
The school takes its name from Joseph Whitaker (1850-1932), a famous naturalist and sportsman who lived at nearby Rainworth Lodge.
Founded in 1963, the school expanded considerably in 1971, when it became an 11-18 years mixed comprehensive. In 2004, the school was awarded specialist sports college status and we became a foundation school in 2006. The school gained academy status in 2011 and extended its specialism to include the performing arts in 2013.
The Whitaker family coat of arms, with its motto ‘SPES ET FIDES’, accurately reflects the expectations of our founder, and the philosophy by which we work today – HOPE for our pupils’ future and FAITH in their ability to rise to whatever challenges they meet.
The Joseph Whitaker School has over 1200 pupils on roll with a strong sixth form housed within new state of the art facilities.
The academy is constantly evolving and striving to provide the highest possible quality of education. They will continue to support pupils to improve their attainment, develop their skills and adopt a healthy lifestyle. They always remember and value their roots within the local community whilst recognising that pupils are part of a global economy, and will further develop student’s understanding of the world through extensive international links. Above all, in everything that they do the school will encourage students to Be Outstanding.
At that opening in 1963 the following hymn was sung:
These Things Shall Be! A Loftier Race
By: John A. Symonds (1840-1893); Tune: Inglemount Comp: E. York Bowen, 1904
1)These things shall be! A loftier race; Than ere the world hath known shall rise, With flame of freedom in their souls; And light of knowledge in their eyes.
2)They shall be gentle, brave, and strong; To spill no drop of blood, but dare All that may plant man's lordship firm on earth, and fire, and sea, and air.
3)Nation with nation, land with land, In armed shall live as comrades free; In every heart and brain shall throb; The pulse of one fraternity.
4)Man shall love man with heart as pure; And fervent as the young-eyed joys Who chant their heavenly songs before God's face with undiscordant song.
5)New arts shall bloom of loftier mold; And mightier music thrill the skies, And every life shall be a song, When all the earth is paradise.
This month our speaker would have been Ian Morgan presenting the topic “Pestilence, Intrigue & Murder” and we will have to wait until next year now to hear him. But as we think of the “pestilence” from that title it brings to mind the Plague – feared by all.
You may all know of a small Derbyshire village called “Eyam” (pronounced “eem”) that became famous after the Black Death of 1665 and 1666. This village contained an outbreak of the plague when villagers decided to isolate themselves from surrounding communities. There are still descendants of those people in “Eyam” today and although currently closed due to Covid-19, many aspects of village life are now opening up. For more information see https://www.eyamvillage.org.uk/
Imagine the hopelessness of being caught up in a plague. Of having to deal with it as a Community; Individual; World! As we see the easing of the Covid-19 restrictions it is hoped that we can soon meet again.
Libraries and archives are reopening from 6 July. Inspire have worked hard to reopen libraries with the priority of keeping customers and staff safe. They’ve reviewed their service and reorganised spaces, introduced social distancing and hygiene measures.
We have heard that the Blidworth Miner’s Welfare, opened on 4th July 2020 and the Society are checking all the government guidelines with regard to “gatherings” and will be in discussion with the Welfare management with regard to when we may be able to have our first meeting and what guidelines will they have in place for the function room.
As soon as we have any information as to when we can meet again we will try and contact the membership individually (please contact us to ensure we have your most up to date contact details – by email to email@example.com or check out both our website http://www.blidworthhistoricalsociety.co.uk/ or Facebook page Blidworth & District Historical and Heritage Society