Myths, Cock ups and Perspective

Published by: AlanP on 13th Feb 2018 | View all blogs by AlanP

In Britain we have a history for heroic failure that seems to rely on the innate belief in some quarters that we are in some way a sceptred isle, blessed by god. Even when we win there seems to be a spirited effort to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Sometimes we don’t get that right even.

Let’s take, for example, the defeat of the Spanish Armada. In a foretaste of the Battle of Britain, of which more later, an overwhelmingly superior, large and heavily armed force approached the coast with military intent. Our plucky, well equipped lads inflicted a mighty defeat on Johnny Foreigner that day. Except perhaps not. It’s true that our lads were nippy, fast and very good at gunnery. Principally they were pirates, or privateers if you prefer, and so it was their stock in trade. In fact the leader of the navy, Sir Martin Frobisher, broke off from the hostilities more than once to take possession of isolated enemy galleons for profit, becoming rather pissed off when Drake sailed in, saved his arse and claimed a portion of the spoils. And really who can blame them? Queen Elizabeth wasn’t paying wages and in fact wouldn’t buy them enough ammo to do the job. It was because they were out of balls that they resorted to fire ships. Rather like our heroic cricket teams the weather came to the rescue and blew the Spanish fleet to destruction in unfamiliar waters. Later the navy was kept in port while they died of scurvy in order to avoid paying them off.

Consider Sir Robert Falcon Scott. Hailed as a hero for his heroic failure to beat that nasty cheating Amundson to the South Pole. Ripe for modern revisionism Scott declined to use dogs and did not wear furs. A revisionist view might say that he was quite correct, politically speaking. Furs were obtained from the slaughter of furry animals and ponies were more British than dogs. In reality Scott risked all on motor sleds, which subsequently failed and high tech fabrics which he was assured had better thermal performance than fur. There is more to this, obviously, such as that the ponies were never intended to haul them to the pole, they were quite unsuited to that task but needs must when your engine fails. The plan was to establish supply dumps for a return journey executed in stages and that was what the Ponies were for, carrying stuff. All very complicated with much that could go wrong. Most of it did. Amundson whipped his dogs to haul the sleds, shot and ate them as they became knackered, won the race to the pole and lived to tell the tale. Yet Scott was the hero and Amundson somehow became the villain (although more recently vindicated).

Eddie the Eagle. Where in creation did Eddie the Eagle come from? Well, literally he was from Cheltenham. He failed to make it as a downhill skier, in part because he was extremely short sighted (he was called Mr Magoo at some point) and his glasses used to mist up inside his goggles. But also because he was self funded, hard up and so couldn’t get anywhere decent to practice. In a leap (see what I did there?) of Olympic (and there!) proportions he switched to ski jumping. He was living in a mental hospital when informed that he was chosen to represent Britain, working as a plasterer, not as a patient, although…..  . Anyway, his practice routine seemed to be to launch himself from some kind of contraption in his aunties back garden. She had a long garden and sometimes he almost reached the fence. Quite naturally he came last in every contest he entered, but we celebrate him as a true British hero.

Queen Boudicca led the Iceni (and much of the rest of iron age Britain) in a rebellion against the forces of the Roman empire. There is no doubt that the Romans were a fairly nasty bunch, in the policy of governor Paulinus anyway. From the point of view of your average Brit at the time and by the standards of the age they had it coming. Yet, ultimately, the British forces were defeated, nay destroyed, at the Battle of Watling Street despite outnumbering the Roman force of some 10,000 odd by around twenty to one (according to Tacitus - who was Roman). Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, the victorious commander, is pretty much lost outside discussions between scholars of ancient Rome - he was told off by the emperor but escaped serious sanction at the time. His eventual fate is not recorded, but he was on the losing side of a rebellion later in the year of the four emporers. Boudicca poisoned herself there and then. Yet Boudicca (Boadicea) is a mighty heroine.

The Charge of the Light Brigade – let’s sum this one up quickly. The Light Brigade charged into heavy, enfiladed Russian artillery who shot the shit out of them. They suffered massive casualties and achieved no gains whatsoever. Why? Not quite sure. Someone told them to do it, but meant somewhere else seems most likely. Nevertheless an heroic failure celebrated by Alfred Lord Tennyson, and the nation it seems.

The Battle of Britain (and Dunkirk). Backs to the wall, having screwed up royally in Europe leading up to the debacle of Dunkirk where the army lost most of its kit we were let off possibly because of fuel shortages although some say Hitler thought he could negotiate with Churchill if he didn'd flatten us. Britain faced the bad guys pretty much alone. And this one we won, but there are plentiful myths about this, many of which are false. The Spitfire was indeed superior to the ME 109, but not by much. The ME 109 was definitely superior to the Hawker Hurricane, although the Hurricane was good at tight turns and carried more ammo and fuel. The ME 109 was fast and a stable fighting platform. In any event, they always talk about the Spitfire as winning the battle, yet there were about 27 Hurricane Squadrons and 18 Spitfire squadrons and the recorded victories are about in that proportion. Also to fly a Spitfire took a lot of training and skill. The Hurricane was a quick study and more forgiving in the air. The first myth – Hurricanes were decisive, not Spitfires.

The invading forces were trying to escort slow bombers which dragged them down in altitude. In any event once over Britain they could only manage ten minutes flying time before turning back. Whereas we were playing at home could stay up much longer and only had to attack, no escort duties. Nevertheless, despite those advantages it was a close run thing and not the great victory due to British fighting spirit and superior nerve that was, and still is, trumpeted. It was an accident of geography and a lot of good luck. They don’t talk about El Alamein, a genuine military victory, in the same way they do Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain. I wonder why.

And I could go on, but that’s enough for today. Any thoughts on why we celebrate failure so much?

Comments

23 Comments

  • poggle
    by poggle 6 months ago
    When a nation has such an abysmal record in all things, it must celebrate that which mightier nations wouldn't even bother to remember.

    And, it keeps a few people in a job - ie writers, film makers, bloggers etc.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 6 months ago
    Fascinating stuff. Lots of substantial food for thought. A few unstructured ones follow...

    First of all, it's not just us. The American naval tradition is built on what should have been seen as humiliating failures. The unofficial battlecry of the US, 'Don't give up the ship!' the last order uttered by Captain James Lawrence, a hero of the War of 1812 and Captain of the USS Chesapeake. The trouble was, he uttered it after his ship had already been taken from him in an absolute rout in which the British frigate HMS Shannon, of equal if not slightly inferior strength to the Chesapeake, battered the American frigate into submission after a mere ten minutes. (OK, eleven, according to the US records, and it seems fair to give them that extra minute). An astonishing amount of effort has gone into excusing Lawrence's abject failure over the years, much of which has added further ignominy to the sorry tale. For example, it was said that Lawrence gave the order to rally his crew to board the Shannon at one point, but for some reason the bugler failed to sound the call. It happened that the bugler was the only black member of the ship's company, and he was effectively blamed for the defeat. (The facts attest that Chespeake was already defeated by this point anyway).

    Then there's the most famous heroic failure of all - the defeat of the 300 Spartans (and a few thousand Peloponnesians, Lacedaemonians and Helots) at Thermopylae. OK, they inflicted damage on the Persian army out of all proportion to the size of their force, but in reality their sacrifice had the effect of mildly inconveniencing Xerxes I. If, as the legends have it, Xerxes had a million men, most of them wouldn't have had any idea what was going on at the front of the army. It would have seemed a bit of a skirmish, a couple of days handy rest, and then on to face the more serious threat of Athens. If we're generous and say that modern estimates of 150,000 are closer to the mark, then Xerxes lost a good 13% of his force. Not to be sniffed at. But the effect of the battle was still to slow the Persians down by a couple of days at the cost of the best warriors in the Greek nations. Xerxes was free to advance on the Peloponnese and sacked several cities. The real victory was the naval Battle of Salamis, which forced Xerxes to retreat before reaching Athens. If Thermopylae had not been irrelevant before, it certainly was after Salamis.

    And...those examples of the British noble failure. All true enough - although nothing's ever quite that simple. In the case of Scott, whose reputation has not survived intact in the way Shackleton's has, he advanced the cause of polar science more than anyone on the planet at the time. His expedition was essentially a huge scientific study with an additional aim of being the first to reach the Pole. Amundsen was more like an Edwardian extreme sportsman. He didn't care remotely for science, he just wanted the achievement. He was also incredibly lucky. He chose a setting off point at the Bay of Whales that was completely unexplored, in the hope of finding a way over the Commonwealth mountain range. Scott chose the well-established site at McMurdo Sound, planning to ascend the known quantity of Beardmore Glacier. Amundsen got lucky, found a glacier that not only got him over the mountains, but his dogs too - the Beardmore was far too rough to bring sled dogs across. More recently, Scott's scientific achievements have been given a bit more attention, which seems appropriate, and the biggest figures of the heroic age of exploration examined a bit more for their individual strengths and weaknesses rather than just on a sort of rough scale of 'heroicness', which I can only welcome.

    (Battle of Britain - I've done a bit of work on exploring why the Spitfire may not have been decisive in that campaign, or any other in WW2, and have received more abuse for that than anything else I've ever done)

    So here's my take: myths are better built on heroic sacrifice as an inspiration to victory, than on victory itself
  • Dolly
    by Dolly 6 months ago
    I think its a British thing. Like you say, Eddie the Eagle became a national hero for always coming last! You forgot Mallory, who disappeared while climbing Everest in an overcoat, whose body was found many years later.
  • J.net
    by J.net 6 months ago
    Fascinating blog, Alan, and a thoroughly enjoyable read. I agree that while other nations have shown similar tendencies, we Brits do tend to excel at celebrating failure. My father, ex-RAF, said the very same thing about the Hurricanes and, Daeds, he pretty much provoked the same reaction. As for Boudicca, that is my area of study and everyone knows her name, don't they? - and yet there was another queen, one who ruled in her own right (in exactly the same era), who struck a deal with the Romans rather than fight them and kept peace in her tribes throughout her reign. Mention Cartimandua though, and the chances are you will get a blank look, or be told that she was the adulteress traitor, wasn't she? - the one who handed over a rebel hero in chains to the Romans. That she did, except there was so much more to it - in a nutshell, she had little choice, and the 'rebel hero', who was defeated by the Romans, pleaded for clemency once caught and lived out his life in Rome.
  • RichardB
    by RichardB 6 months ago
    Fascinating blog, Alan. and I'm constantly surprised by the depth and breadth of your erudition, Daeds. Here's my small contribution.

    I once got interested enough in the folly of the Charge of the Light Brigade (and it's not so well known that after Marshall Pierre Bosquet said 'C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre,' he added 'C'est de la folie.' - 'It's madness.') to try and find out how it happened.

    It would appear that if one man can be held responsible it was Captain Nolan, who delivered the order from the C-in-C, Lord Raglan. to the commander of the cavalry (both light and heavy), Lord Lucan (great-great-grandfather of THAT Lord Lucan). Raglan's order was rather vaguely worded and Lucan, not having Raglan's panoramic view of the battlefield, wasn't sure which guns the order referred to. Nolan, who seems to have been a hothead spoiling for action and to have been cheesed off that the cavalry hadn't yet taken any part in the battle, seeing Lucan hesitate, waved his arm towards the wrong guns and said impatiently 'There, my lord, is your enemy! There are your guns!'

    Lucan loathed Lord Cardigan, commander of the Light Brigade, and that may have made him that much less reluctant to send Cardigan on a suicidal mission. He ordered the Light Brigade to attack the guns Nolan had indicated.

    Nobody knows whether or not Nolan's misdirection was deliberate as, with a rough justice more often found in fiction than in real life, he was one of the first, possibly the very first, man to die in the charge - even though he wasn't part of the unit and shouldn't have been in the attack at all.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 6 months ago
    Absorbing stuff J.Net - I had not heard of that other queen. I wonder how much of it was down to the way things were spun by the Roman propagandists? But then when you look at the way the Norman conquest has tended to be portrayed until relatively recently - at least, the way I was taught about it at primary school when we were learning about the Domesday book for the 1986 anniversary, which was that Edward the Confessor totally legitimately promised the throne to William, Harold greedily nabbed it, and William came and bravely fought for his rightful crown...

    It is a peculiarly British thing - to tackle poggle’s point above - that when the British have so many genuine successes to celebrate, we choose to lionise the glorious failure.
  • AlanP
    by AlanP 6 months ago
    Interesting additional material surfacing, as is ever the case when starting up a discussion here. Daeds, I was only vaguely aware of the USS Chesapeake, although it seems consistent. The Royal Navy always placed more emphasis on gunnery than other navies and usually came out on top in "equal" engagements. I agree that heroic failure plucks the heart strings more effectively than organised success. There were things about colleagues not making agreed rendezvous points in the Scott failure that were never properly explored and as they were only 12 miles from a supply point when they ran out of energy, some things must be unexplained. Something about people doing their scientific duties rather than setting off to search? No sat phone, I suppose.

    Richard. That is consistent with my more superficial understanding, that they charged the wrong guns. Thank you.

    JNet, thank you too. I was not aware of Cartimandua at all. Some reading to do there. Reminds me in a way of Josephus, another colourful rebel who was captured and made good in Rome. As a historian he wrote the history of his own role in the Judean rebellion, having subsequently been granted citizenship by Vespasian. He must have been quite a lad.
  • AlanP
    by AlanP 6 months ago
    Dolly. I think Mallory might have been a bit better equipped than that, but nevertheless he didn't make it and so qualifies for the group of heroic failures.

    Interestingly they reckon that Scott's party, who were "buried" where they were found by piling snow and ice over the tent, will eventually float off into the Ross sea in an iceberg which will of course melt, eventually. As a naval expedition, mainly, burial at sea seems appropriate.
  • AlanP
    by AlanP 6 months ago
    1066 and all that. It doesn't do to try to view these things too much from a modern day perspective, although that is how it was taught when I was at school too. Kingship wasn't in the gift of the King to determine back then and heredity and bloodline was a supporting claim, but no more. There was much faith in god's choice, but there was an element of almost democracy in that Harold was the "people's choice" based on his being a good warrior and his determination to defend the interests of Saxon England. He had almost certainly promised to support William's claim, but at the time he was William's prisoner and would have had his cobblers chopped off if he hadn't - to give it a modern slant.

    If Harold had won he would have had the opportunity to write the history, but he didn't.
  • J.net
    by J.net 6 months ago
    Daeds, Cartimandua and other women rulers were indeed subjects of Roman propaganda. They appeared to fall under one of two categories: loose women/ seductress (Cartimandua/ Cleopatra), or looked and behaved like a man (Boudicca). And then the monks transcribed the Roman writings (in Britain at least), and they were hardly likely to translate favourably when it came to pagan women.

    Alan, Cartimandua by Nicky Howarth is the study book that inspired my version of the queen. There is a lot of cross referencing, but I like that. It also gives an insight into how the Romans recorded other historical figures.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 6 months ago
    Correct regarding the gunnery Alan, although Captain Philip Broke of the Shannon was one of the first to make something of a science of it. The typical attention was on rate of fire. Broke also focussed on accuracy, having calibration marks painted on the decks and gunsights fitted to the cannon, and drilling the men ceaselessly. One of the reasons Shannon bludgeoned Chesapeake into submission so quickly was that the gunners aimed for the gunports rather than the usual practice, when in close combat, of not bothering to aim in the knowledge that wherever you fire, you’ll hit something. The US Navy had built a series of extremely big, powerful frigates at the end of the 18th century, and early in the War of 1812, Royal Navy frigates had unwisely engaged in single-ship combats with them. (One of these is USS Constitution, preserved and still afloat, though I dare say about as much of it is original as HMS Victory). This led to some embarrassing defeats for the RN, which had previously been able to count on being able to tackle an equal or even somewhat superior force with a guarantee of victory. The US Navy, as a result, perhaps got rather overconfident in single-ship actions. The frigate skirmishes were of course of no strategic significance at all, and what won the naval war for Britain was a good old fashioned blockade. The early battles (Constitution vs Guerriere, Constitution vs Java and United States vs Macedonian) were immensely important to the confidence of the US Navy though, and helped build the founding ethos of the young service. In Britain, it was a different story as the public had grown to expect victory as a matter of course, so when the Shannon defeated the Chesapeake, it was no more that the Navy should have been doing anyway. Ironically, in those earlier cases, the RN captains had gone into battle significantly against the odds and given a good account of themselves (in particular Guerriere, which was on her way home after becoming severely worn out at sea on the America station, and had rotten masts) but were most definitely not celebrated as gallant failures.
  • Stevie
    by Stevie 6 months ago
    Good blog, Alan. My own thinking is that its the heroic that is the important word here. There is something inately heroic in fighting against bad odds. When there is little or no hope of survival, it just seems to make it all the more heroic. Yup, it doesn't make any sense. Why not just surrender or run away but it is making a stand that grips us, irrespective of the circumstances.

    Trafalgar. 22 - 0 to us and we started with less ships than the French. The RN celebrate it every year. Waterloo. Our side out-numbered the French by tens of thousands. We won but we don't celebrate it like Trafalgar.

    Againcourt. A staggering victory for an out-numbered and out-armoured English army. Immortalised forever by the bard.

    And heroic failures are not just us. Remember the Alamo? Who doesn't? 200-ish Texans against 1500-ish Mexicans. None of the Texans walked away but who really won?

    For the best I can come across, there's the Battle of Camaron. where 65 French Foreign Legionaires were beseiged by some 3000 Mexicans and held them off for nine hours. They were offered surrender three times and refused, only surrendering when there were three of them left.

    You can say what you like about the sense in that but its certainly heroic.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 6 months ago
    Wow. That’s less than Rorke’s Drift odds. And probably with a lot more parity in weaponry too.

    Speaking of Rorke’s Drift, I wonder if that would have been quite so celebrated if it weren’t for the horrific destruction of the entire No.3 column at Isandlwana mere hours before?

    Agincourt is a bit of a ‘victory from the jaws of defeat’ situation. The campaign was a failure, and Henry was only trying to save face by marching from Harfleur to Calais. The sensible thing for the French to do would have been to let him go, but they saw a chance for an easy victory. Rather like Hastings, a single battle changed the strategic picture beyond all recognition, which is why if you were a mediaeval leader, the best thing you could do was avoid a pitched battle like the plague, and people who forgot that tended to come to a sticky end. A bit like playing Crewe at home late in the season.

    Apparently what we call The Spanish Armada, the Spanish call The Invincible Armada...
  • AlanP
    by AlanP 6 months ago
    @Stevie. The Alamo is interesting. It wasn't really seen as a defeat in that, rather like Thermopylae it was seen as a strategic victory having bought time at extreme personal sacrifice. It was a pyrrhic victory for Santa Ana as his force of 1,500 was reduced by about 600 costing Texas about 200. Inspired by the heroism of the Alamo Houston's ranks swelled and not long after Santa Ana was defeated and captured. The USA usually doesn't lose with good grace, it's not in their national persona - that's OK it's just how they are and there is much to admire in America, present POTUS aside. They treated Vietnam vets with little respect and much disdain for years until Hollywood worked out that they really had won that war after all.

    @Daeds. I think at the time they called it El Grande y Felicísima Armada (The Great and Most Fortunate Navy), or at least King Phillip of Spain did. This was because they were off to deal with the heretic Queen Elizabeth and assumed God was on their side. One of my cardinal rules of project management when I used to deliver courses was Never Assume. Agree about Agincourt, except I thought Henry marched to Calais to save his ass as his only way out of the mess.
  • mike
    by mike 6 months ago
    One of the granddaughters of someone I visit on Sundays has all sorts of degrees in creative writing and has abandoned all in favour of servicing helicopter engines for the air force - at equal pay I might add.
    I have a query about the Crimean War. I recently read a book by John Simpson in which he records the life of foreign corespondents and he goes into the history of the profession. He refers to Russell as being the first war correspondent; Perhaps he meant the first influential war correspondent? Russell is well known in that his reports were influential after the Crimean War. But the 1848 European wars were witnessed by english journalists and their eye witness accounts were printed in English journals very soon after the events. (There were regular boats crossing the channel.) The english public were particularly well informed about the events in France.
    The film Dunkirk ends with a Spitfire on a funeral pyre. Do you mean this film is not accurate? Yes it it is! One of the van drivers where I worked had a hobby - sailing - and his boat was one of the small boats that had sailed to Dunkirk. He did not own it at that time, but had restored it,. I remember him telling me that it was quite tourist draw when he berthed in a London Dock.
    Tony Richardson is a rather forgotten film director. I think his film of 'The Charge of the Light Brigade rather reflects the politics of the sixties. It makes clever use of of Pythonesque cartoons but Nolan is the key figure responsible the charge. The military establishment is given a sixties makeover There is a later film - and an earlier one!
    I think history increasingly reflects the the present. I recall the Globe put on a production about Boadicca few years ago. I cannot remember it in much detail but it had been great fun and was probably about female empowerment et. I have material about a group of disco dancing lesbians, but I cannot say that. It is about a key event in the Chartist movement in 1848 and the embryonic pre-suffragettes - pre blue stocking. It is highly topical but of no interest. Chartism is not a crowd puller.
  • RichardB
    by RichardB 6 months ago
    And how about Sir Richard Grenville and the Revenge? For no other reason, apparently, than preferring death to dishonour, he refused to retreat with the rest of the English fleet when faced with a much superior Spanish fleet, and steered straight towards the Spaniards, one ship against 53. The Revenge put up a hell of a fight, lasting out for many hours and repelling boarders several times, but the end was never in doubt. Grenville is even said to have referred to his men as 'traitors and dogs' (while dying of his wounds) for finally surrendering, with the ship totally dismasted, full of corpses and awash with blood.

    He must have been one stroppy bastard.
  • AlanP
    by AlanP 6 months ago
    Mike, a remarkable post as ever. I have to congratulate you on working in disco dancing lesbians. Had I thought about it I think I would have concluded it couldn't be done in this blog.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 6 months ago
    I hadn’t heard that story about Grenville. Remarkable! I gather during the earlier phases of the engagement, several captains broke off from the fleet harrying the Armada to take prizes of individual ships. Many of the English captains had effectively been pirates prior to being made a little more respectable - needs must when the devil drives - and old habits die hard.
  • Dolly
    by Dolly 6 months ago
    Of course, there's always Arnhem. 8 VC's won with paratroops carrying rifles and machine guns fighting tanks, and getting slaughtered for their trouble.
  • mike
    by mike 6 months ago
    Dear Alan,
    It is disco dancing lesbians that is the pitch .It did catch your attention. Lesbianism was not an issue in Victorian times! I did email the education department of a theatre on this issue because it was local to the theatre. There had been a family connection with a cause celebre of 1848 which is well documented, so the drama would be based around a historical reconstruction of the event. But the theatre did not reply. They never do, S I usually don't bother,. but you can see how topical the subject is.,I have the material for about four musicals! Even one about the second world war. I was born at the wrong time. A new theatre has opened with a stage that has a completely flexible acting area.
    I definitely left the film 'Dunkirk' with the feeling that a Spitfire, had been a hero,but the film. as I had suspected, was structured around one small boat. I much preferred another film about Dunkirk called 'Their Finest Hour' whose spirit was more in line with Dad's Amy'
    A few days ago, I saw a Chinese film and, in the morning there had been a discussion, and a documentary about Chinese labour in the first world war. The whole day was very interesting and so removed from the reality of war.
    One of the best plays staged - the moment - in london is set in the Tudor period, At the start of the play two actors toss a coin over who is to play the lead part - Queen Elizabeth or Mary Stewart.
    This play is going on tour this year, I can really recommend it. Watching TV is like eating processed food - especially the cop shows. David Hare is running rings around these - on Monday nights.
  • mike
    by mike 6 months ago
    Dolly,
    Suppose the battle for Arnhem had been successful? My Dutch relations didn't really talk about the war and I cannot remember what they said but who knows? It is not something that I could do, but my Dutch grandfather ran a music school during the second world war and he had three young daughters. It is more a plot for Andrew Webber than me.
    I have been watching films of the late fifties and early sixties and the better ones have a jazz score. Even the popular ones have more tad jazz than pop groups. Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball were often in films. The BFI have restored a documentary on the first Glastonbury festival so it must be available,on amazon. (If not from the BFI) My interest had been in the popular music of the late Victorian and Edwardian period. It is very unfashionable now. I was told nobody would be interested but then somebody made 'Brassed off"
  • mike
    by mike 6 months ago
    Dear Alan,
    re your query at the end of your blog. At the time,the battle occurred, Dunkirk was considered an achievement in that so many troops had managed to return. The way Dunkirk has been portrayed in the arts and media is quite interesting. THe BFI has the English propaganda films made at the time and they make interesting viewing now. There is a BFI player.
    I cannot remember the exact context but Germany has recently complained about England's obsession with the second world war. Of course one wishes to know the German viewpoint. But I can see what they mean with the current crop fo films. Why are they made now?
    I made a mistake in leaving work as I am now on my own all day but I go to London events more than I did before. On the monday I spent all day at the BFI where there were introductory talks to the films and documentaries shown. A Chinese film person gave a talk about what the Chinese call their 'years of humiliation' Because she is Chinese, her talk about the Opium wars and the Chinese Japanese wars were seen from thr Chinese perspective. History is being re-written by the Chinese,
    A battle of Britain pilot came onto where I worked and asked if it was possible to get a diagram of the workings of a Spitfire, It was some years ago and I think I directed him to the War Museum which was not far away. But I recall him talking about the Spitfire and he explained about the controls and what fun it was to pilot. I rrmember searching afterwards and did find a history of the plane but I cannot recall if he returned.
  • Squidge
    by Squidge 6 months ago
    Thought of this blog when I saw this report....harks back to Eddie the Eagle days...!!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/winter-olympics/43080766
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