RAF Pilots with Scramble Bell Perhaps the most iconic item associated with the RAF involvement in the 1940 Battle of Britain are the large bronze Station (or “Scramble”) bells that once adorned British airfields. These impressive bells were used to signal incoming enemy raids to waiting RAF pilots. From the Imperial War Museum to the museums at the old Tangmere and Duxford airfields, the display of these bells often attracts the awe of visitors, and the envy of collectors.
Although the two World Wars of the Twentieth Century are viewed as modern wars, it is stunning to consider that many of the soldiers who fought in these conflicts went into battle wearing armor plating that resembled the chest plates that had been worn centuries earlier by medieval knights. During World War 1, elite German, Russian and British combatants, such as sappers or “trench-raiders,” were provided with specially designed armor that was fitted over the torso to provide
Churchill & Orwell: The fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks New York: Penguin Press, 2017, 339 p. $29.00 Thomas E. Ricks is perhaps best known for his book, The Generals, but his latest work, Churchill & Orwell, is a volume that seals Ricks’ reputation as one of our finest historical observers and commentators. Ricks is a fine writer and his erudite style adds much to what is both a dual biography of Winston Churchill and George Orwell, as well as an essay on the legacy and
Original photos taken by the Germans of the Allied POWs at Stalag IX-C. Most of the photos have no names identifying the subjects of the images. (Bill Howard Collection) Those who served on the frontlines of World War II faced constant uncertainty. Regardless of their branch of service, serving in the military during wartime is a dangerous proposition. A soldier, airmen, sailor or Marine might be killed, wounded, incapacitated by illness, or captured by the enemy. Those
Photo of USS Missouri (on left) and USS Arizona Memorial (center right) taken from the deck of the submarine USS Bowfin on November 6, 2015. The tower at Hickam Field can be seen in the distance directly over the Arizona Memorial (Bill Howard Photo) Pearl Harbor is peaceful and reverential today. The tourists that visit this hallowed place seem more respectful – more knowledgeable – than those I’ve experienced at other historic sites. Pearl Harbor is a special place. Seve
One of the most attractive RAF-related items from World War II is the “1942 Badge” that is so popular with militaria collectors. The badge is often inaccurately referenced as an “Eagle Squadron Badge” because of its general association with the American pilots who flew for the RAF but the official name of the badge was the “American RAF Foreign Volunteer Badge.” The badge was awarded not just to Eagle Squadron pilots but to any American officer who served in any capacity wi
Photograph of RAF Pilot Bill Millington (left) and Tom Neil. The RAF pilot Tom Neil recalled that Bill Millington always had an affinity for animals. The diary of another Battle of Britain pilot, George Barclay included several photos of Millington with various mascots that he introduced to No. 249 Squadron. There was a dog, “Pipsqueak” and a duck “Wilfred” that became famous mascots of the embattled fighter squadron. In this photo, Pilot Officer Millington is seen in the