Wednesday, 13 November 2019

The Wednesday Poem and Cultural Round Up - Don't Blame Me

Don't Blame Me

Don't blame me when you're firm goes bust,
Don't blame me when dreams turn to dust,
Don't blame me when savings disappear,
Don't blame me you can't afford a beer,
Don't blame me when your kids blame you,
Don't blame me when your bank forcloses too,
Don't blame me when the world erupts in war,
Don't blame me they're knocking on your door!

I did my best to try and make sure,
You don't believe those leaflets they put through your door,
I wrote six million words, telling you in this blog, 
So don't you dare say it's all your fault Rog!

Copyright 2019 Roger Tichborne

On the 12th December, we vote in a General Election. There are a hell of a lot of porkies being told right now. Last night I saw the most bizarre Party political broadcast of all time, featuring the Prime Minister pretending to go for a coffee and claiming, amongst other things that he likes The Clash and The Rolling Stones. A general election debate should be about policies, not this sort of vacuous nonsense. Yesterday, we had a report in the Jewish Chronicle that one of Mike Freer's Conservative buddies had behaved in an appalling manner on a visit to Lib Dem challenger Luciana Berger's offices. There are two undeniable facts. The first is that the Tory party has lurched to the right under Boris, with a purge of sensible and competent moderates. The second is that appalling behaviour, such as that displayed at Luciana Berger's office is becoming more prevalent. I am not a Momentum supporter, but if the perpetrator of the visit had been a Momentum supporter, it would have been the lead item on the news. The BBC seems to me to have been cowed by the Tory party. This should be a worry. 

If you cannot see how dangerous the situation is becoming, then I suggest you buy a couple of history books, detailing what happened in Germany in the 1920's and 30's. The first thing that happened was abuse, then violence was normalised. It isn't alright. Whoever you intend to vote for, please consider the fact that we need proper debate, not conducted with milkshakes, violence and hate. I've written a blog for eleven years now, over six million words. My mission has been to spur sensible debate, promote art and culture and try and make our little corner of London a better place. Felt I had to say something. 

Cultural Round Up.

There are some good things going on in and around the Borough of Barnet, Please add these to your diary.

Jazz Tonight in Mill Hill

Panto In Finchley

Hampstead Theatre

Comedy in Finchley
Ska in Barnet

Irish Music in Kilburn

Music Lessons for Children in Finchley

Please join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Why we are back in 1974 in reverse

At the weekend I wrote two rather special blogs about my Dad. Saturdays was listing the ten things I miss about him and Sundays was concerning his war record and how he was shot down and made it back to the UK. As I was pondering these later on Sunday, he was born in 1917 and I realised that he was the same age in 1974 as I am now (57 years old). At the time I was twelve. It got me thinking about the challenges and political situation of the times. The parallels are quite incredible, but so many things have become a mirror image. There were two elections in 1974, a spring and an autumn one. The first resulted in a hung parliament, which required an Autumn election to sort the mess out. The Labour party won, largely by promising a referendum on membership of the EEC. Strangely this is Labour party policy today, but it seems to hardly get a mention. The right wing press was full of stories of how the Unions would run/ruin the country if Labour were re-elected (some things will never change).

My Father was a supporter of the concept of European Union. He was a former WWII bomber pilot, and had been stationed in Foggia in Italy in 1944, so he'd seen first hand the devastation across Europe of war. Ted Heath was Leader of the Tories, unlike Boris, he was a passionate European, with Labour being far more sceptical, however I suspect that just like Boris, that scepticism is for public consumption.

As I write this, I am hearing that the Labour Party has had a cyber attack. Although the source isn't known as I write this, there has been repeated claims of Russian influence. In 1974, there were similar rumours, although now it seems Russia favours the leave supporting Tories, wheras in the 1970's it was the Labour Party that were suspected of collusion.

Another interesting parallel is what is happening in the USA. 1974 saw the first inklings of the Watergate scandal, that would result in the impeachment of Republican President Nixon. As we all know, Donald Trump is facing similar problems from Congress.

Then there is the foreign policy. In 1974, Nixon was desperately trying to extricate the USA from the mess of its own creation in Vietnam. Today Trump faces similar problems in Syria, sadly I suspect that the problems will prove far more messy in the long term than Vietnam.

There are some other interesting parallels. In sport, Manchester United were relegated in 1974. Whilst the finances of football make such a thing highly unlikely today, they have been, in effect, relegated from the top flight, as they are no longer regulars in the Champions League. As in 1974, City are the top team in Manchester, United having suffered a series of unsuccessful managers following the end of the glorious Busby era.

As for music, 1974 is the glam rock era. One of the interesting things about Glam Rock for me was that was the first music genre to really be TV friendly. When Bolan and Bowie stormed our living rooms via Top of The Pops, the old ways of relentless gigging to bolster album sales suddenly seemed old hat. A hit single on TOTP was the way forward. Now TOTP is gone, but we find our superstars on The Voice and X Factor reality shows. Strangely Vinyl is back on the high street! I suspect that many are bought to put on the mantle piece and are never played.

There are a few other rather strange parallels. Take education. This always seems to go in phases. In the 1970's the consensus was that Comprehensive Education was the way to go. Margaret Thatcher was a particular champion of this. Grammer Schools were forced to change or merge to produce mega comprehensives. I was attending Finchley Catholic High School, which had been created out of a merger between Finchley Grammar School and Chaloner (a small Catholic private school). The shock to the schools establishment meant that it almost ceased to function as a viable educational establishment. My year had the worst ever results, before the Head was sacked and a long period of adaption and retrenchment was begun. The Labour party has similar plans, aiming to completely abolish private schooling. At the same time The Tories are doing everything to take the axe to Thatchers baby, the Comprehensive system. Once again, these changes throw schools into turmoil and pupils education will suffer, as mine did. It seems that the Tories have looked at 1974 and decided to put the UK into reverse gear!

Another worrying parallel is the Middle East. In 1974 there was a war between the Arab nations and Israel. This year has seen a Turkish invasion of Syria.  It is a tragedy that 45 years after that conflict, the region is more dangerous than ever.

The final similarity I will list is one that will probably mean nothing to anyone but me. When I was twelve, I bought a small Philips radio, that I could listen to when I went to bed. It was perhaps my best friend for a couple of years. The Radio Station that I fell in love with was BBC Radio London. Regular readers will know that I am still a big fan of the station. My favourite show was Robbie Vincents late night London. It was a show where, as a 12 year old, London was brought to life. It started as a show called "The Crisis Show", because during the miners strike, TV transmissions were shut down and only the radio was broadcast. After the crisis passed, I became a firm fan, until I discovered punk rock and switched allegiance in 1977 to John Peel. Today, I am back on BBC radio London with the Robert Elms show! It's in the morning, rather than late at night, but it is the place to keep in touch with London.
Please join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission

Monday, 11 November 2019

Environment Monday - Election Issues - Should environmentalists support HS2

If you've read our environment Monday column before, you can skip this paragraph. It just explains what it is all about. So you want to save the planet, combat climate change, leave a legacy for your children that you can be proud of but you just don't know where to start? I started the Environment Monday series of blogs to try and spread a few practical ideas, things that are practical and work. I'd love your ideas, guest blogs and help. The old adage of think global, act local has been my mantra for decades. If we all start with ourselves, look at our lifestyles, look at the small changes we can make in our carbon footprint, on our own we will make a miniscule difference, but if we do it and it works, maybe our friends will sit up take, notice and over time (which is precious), together we can start to make a big difference. Each week, we will explore a different theme, a different way that we can all make a difference.

As the election grows closer, we take a look at some key issues in detail and we ask whether the parties position is consistent with a green agenda. Today we look at the HS2 project. Lets start with the Green party position.

The Green Party has responded to news the Government is considering scrapping HS2, ahead of a broadcast of Channel 4’s Dispatches tonight.              
Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said:
“Ministers are right to doubt HS2 – this vanity project is a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and it’s time they put it out of its misery. HS2 is already inflicting environmental vandalism on our countryside and woodlands as the cost of the project continues to spiral. Ditching this project would save billions and allow thousands of jobs to be created by investing in desperately needed upgrades to local rail networks.”
I've got to say I'm highly disappointed with this statement, for a number of reasons, but primarily because of the brevity of what they have to say. The Green party view is that the money would be better spent on 'upgrades to local rail networks'.  Of course there are hundreds, if not thousands of small upgrades to local rail networks that are desirable, but lets for arguments sake, say that there would be £80 billion in the pot to for such improvements, if HS2 was scrapped. What are these schemes and is there genuine evidence that they would deliver a lower carbon footprint for the UK than HS2? Since my children have been at University, I've made dozens of journeys to Manchester, Leeds and York, on the A1, M6 and M1. I also regularly travel to Manchester on the train.

It is clear to anyone who has made such journeys regularly that the M1 corridor and the railway to Birmingham and Manchester is overloaded and overcrowded. One of the benefits of HS2 that seems to be a blind spot in these arguments, is that it will free up space on the existing routes for freight and local services. Running high speed express services and low speed freight and suburban services on the same tracks limits the number of train paths on the route. There is a clear market for fast travel between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. This is why we've seen ever increasing numbers of highly polluting local flights. The sad truth is that infrastructure projects are expensive and cause a degree of environmental destruction, but this has to be weighed against the bigger picture. The Green party are right to call for more investment in local services. What they need is a coherent plan with specific schemes and costings. I believe that many of the schemes that are needed would effectively be self financing. If they return a 3-5% return on investment, then this would offset the cost of interest and deliver a return. The economic stimulus and the reduction of CO2 production is an added benefit. Schemes such as the West London Orbital Railway are obvious examples.

The other party which is opposed to HS2 is the Brexit Party. They say

“The Brexit Party welcomes the news the government is waking up to the fact there is no business case for HS2. 
“Once again, we led the way on a critical issue, highlighting how the money can be better spent elsewhere, and now the Tories are moving to copy another of our policies. 
“I really hope this review comes to the right conclusion, but The Brexit Party remains the only party fully committed to scrapping this failed and unpopular £100 billion white elephant.
“We want to invest in the regions and in infrastructure projects which benefit areas other than London, generating real economic growth across the UK.” 
What is striking is that the Brexit party statement is very similar to the Green party. It is interesting that they rather dishonestly claim they are the only party fully committed to scrapping the scheme, ignoring the fact that the Greens have been championing this cause for years before the Brexit party ever existed. Like the Green party, they talk about other projects, but don't actually bother to name any. They want to invest in the regions, but do not mention that one of the biggest impediments to regional growth is our creaking travel network.

Although the Conservatives are conducting a review of HS2, Boris is a known lover of big infrastructure projects, so it is unlikely that this will do anything other than make a few cosmetic changes. Labour and The Lib Dems also support the project.

My view is that the UK needs a plan for our transport infrastructure and a holistic view, rather than a whole swathe of stand alone schemes, that get agreed, cancelled, postponed, downgraded. At the botrtom of my garden, I have the M1 motorway and the Midland main line. The Thameslink service is a prime example of how investment in a railway can transform its fortunes and deliver huge benefits. When I started work in 1981, the line was called the Bedpan line. Clapped out diesel railcars shuffled between Bedford and St Pancras and around 5,000 people a day used the service.

Firstly it was electrified, then the route was opened up to Blackfriars, via a disused former freight tunnel. That happened in 1988. As I was working in Blackfriars at the time, this was a highly useful improvement. The latest figures show 28,000 people use the service in the central area. By any and every measure the service is a stunning success. Over 5,000 journeys a day are made from Mill Hill Broadway alone.  Anyone who has seen the service develop,  would realise the benefits of big infrastructure schemes. Three of the stations on the route, St Pancras, Blackfriars and London Bridge have had massive investment and are unrecognisable from the 1981 versions. When Crossrail opens in 2021, Farringdon will also be transformed into a massive hub, with connections to Heathrow. Crossrail is another project that has caused huge and painful change. It has been called a 'White Elephant' by many of the same people that criticise HS2. It is clear that it has been badly managed by both Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan, as London Mayors. Boris set up the structures to deliver the project and Sadiq Khan has let these run out of control. It seems that it is a given that such projects will spiral out of control. I have a theory that this is all a subterfuge to con the British public. Rather than tell us the true cost, we get conned into signing up, on unrealistic budget quotes. These are then bumped up when it is too late to change things, to the true cost. Whilst some may hold their hands up in horror, I think it is a simply a sad reflection on the British psyche, where we always want to do jobs on the cheap.

When people such as the Green Party and Brexit Party say that HS2 will cost £100 million, there are three things they fail to mention.  The first is that this is the cost of the project, but much of that comes straight back to the Treasury. Every single worker on the project pays income tax and NI, every company pays corporation tax and VAT. Every worker spends their wages in shops, paying VAT on products. They buy homes and pay stamp duty, they buy cars to get to work and pay fuel duty. Their wages are spent in shops, pubs, restaurants, creating jobs in other sectors and keeping people off benefits. So when all of this is subtracted, what is the real cost? As  to the environmental aspect of this, we can only really address the challenges that we face, if the economy can support the cost of decarbonisation. There are some interesting policies coming out of the parties, such as the Lib Dems plans for grants for energy efficient homes. These will only be delivered if there is a vibrant economy. My hope for the future is that we can build sustainable industries, low carbon homes and world beating green solutions, and we need the cash to invest to do that.

The second factor that is ignored is the cost to the economy of traffic congestion. According to a report in February, congestion costs the country £8 billion a year. As London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds are some of the countries most congested road routes, relieving this will give a huge payback over the lifetime of the railway. Of course there will be claims that other schemes could relieve congestion more effectively. If this is true, then they should detail these schemes with a cost justification, rather than the bland statements that say nothing. There is a clear benefit to the environment in having less traffic congestion and more people on the railways. Cars sitting in queues on roads are perhaps the worst of all worlds.

The third factor and one which I hardly ever see mentioned is that the UK can only grow and be successful as a world player if people see that we are investing in our future. For foreign companies looking to expand, projects such as HS2 open up opportunities. There is an interchange at Old Oak Common with links to Heathrow. If you are the CEO of a foreign company looking to build your business in Europe, what things would give a City such as Birmingham or Manchester an advantage over their competitors? People who don't run businesses don't understand this, but as someone who runs a business with an international client base, I know for a fact that the Thameslink service to Mill Hill gives us an edge on many competitors. If I was a Far eastern Car Manufacturer, looking to take advantage of the amazing engineering infrastructure in Birmingham, Crossrail would be a big incentive, making it a far easier destination for execs etc flying into Heathrow to visit the business and suppliers etc. How can you quantify this? It is hard, but these sort of issues feed into decisions.

You may say what has this got to do with the environment? Do we want foreign companies building car factories in Birmingham and flying into Heathrow?  The answer is that the factories will be built somewhere in Europe, the journeys made, so we want to mitigate this as much as possible and an electric railway is by far the best way.


Sunday, 10 November 2019

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 10/11/2019

It's Sunday, so it's time for our round up of this weeks finest tweets from this little corner of paradise!

1. Lets start with a rather good historical tweet of the week

2. Today is Remembrance Sunday. To us it is important, so I thought I'd pick a couple of my favourite tweets from services around the Borough. I love this one

3. And this is a fantastic tweet that captures the spirit and feeling of the day

4. This must win the "Bonkers Tweet of the Week" Award!

5. Mark Amies has put a huge amount of effort into his campaign to save the Railway Hotel in Edgware and to get the area cleaned up. We think he deserves our fullsome support.

6. We also support our local litter pickers. They do amazing work for the community. Please follow their twitter feeds and join their litter picks

7. Fancy some Jazz this week?

8. Need help with your computer. Barnet Carers Centre are at hand!

9. Good luck to everyone doing Rock School exams today. The hard work is well worth it!

10. We'll finish with a tweet that brings together two things I care passionately about, youth football and respecting those who have fallen. Well done to both teams, I cannot state how important it is to both get children active and to give them the right mindset. I wanted to end with this as this is our hope for the future

Please join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission

Remembrance Sunday - Recalling the sacrifice of the RAF, My father and his crew

This article was put together by Roy Wilcox for the amazing Aircrew Remembered website. I am deeply indebted to Roy for his work for my father and all of the other brave men who made so many sacrifices. This is reproduced with permission. The origin article is here -

Please support their work. If you have any pictures of aircrew or other items of interest for Roy, please use the link below to get in touch. For our family it was most moving to see all of this.

Lest we forget.......

02/03.07.1944 No. 40 Squadron Wellington X ME990 

Operation: Prahova, Romania

Date: 2/3 July 1943 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 40 Squadron - Motto: Hostem acolo expellere; ("To drive the enemy from the sky")
Badge: A broom. The broom was chosen to immortalise the frequent exhortation of Major 'Mick' Mannock, the famous World War I pilot, who served with the squadron, to "sweep the Huns from the air!"
Type: Vickers Wellington Mark X
Serial: ME990
Code: -R
Base: Foggia Main, Italy
Location: Măceșu de Sus, Romania 45km south of Craiova
Pilot: F/O. Lawrence Franklin (Laurie) Tichborne Aus/425381 RAAF Age 27 (1)
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Leslie John (Les) Goodlet NZ404025 RNZAF Age 22 (2)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Anthony Thomas (Tony) Duff Aus/424291 RAAF Age 20 (3)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Albert Ivan (Al) Poole 125481 RAFVR Age 24 (4)
Air/Gnr: F/O. John Charles (Spud) Murphy 152861 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (5)

We appeal to anyone with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via our Helpdesk


Having crewed up at No. 21 Operational Training Unit at Moreton in Marsh Gloucestershire during September 1943 the five airmen were posted to No. 40 Squadron at Foggia Main in Italy in January 1944.

Laurie Tichborne, an ex-Electrical Labourer from Queensland was captain and eldest member of the crew whilst at the other end of the age scale was 20 year old bomb aimer and fellow Aussie, Tony Duff, whose most striking feature was perhaps his diminutive stature. Standing just 5' 1" he was one of the shortest officers in the RAAF and when seen alongside the 6' plus Laurie Tichborne presented an amusing sight.
Al Poole, the wireless operator was a 24 year old School Teacher from the then British Dominion of Newfoundland and had therefore enlisted in the Royal Air Force.
The rear gunner was John Murphy. Inevitably nicknamed "Spud" he was a native of Gloucester and being at Moreton-in-Marsh enabled him to get home more often than he might otherwise have been able. He and Laurie had forged a good friendship since meeting up at OTU.
The navigator of the crew was F/O. Bob Walsh about whom nothing further is known.
On 1 December 1943 the crew was posted to No. 311 Ferry Training Unit, also at Moreton-in-Marsh. After ferry training there followed 9 days leave from 22 to 31 December prior to flying out to join No. 40 Squadron in Italy.
Laurie Tichborne however, had arrived in the UK in April 1943 and somewhere among his training he had managed to meet a certain Miss Celia Fanning and in the few short months that they had known each other the couple had become very close. Their parting had been particularly hard to bear, there being no telling when they might see one another again, if ever.
10.30 hours on 9 January 1944 found the crew at Rabat–Salé airfield, Morocco, at the time being used as a stopover and landing field for Air Transport Command aircraft on the Casablanca-Algiers transport route. On the outbound route their Wellington DF542 had developed engine trouble 100 miles out from Portugal but with no explanation, came good and was OK for the rest of the flight. Following another stopover at Algiers they finally reached Foggia Main on 16 January where DF542 was given up (see photograph below)

Two days later Laurie flew as second pilot on an operation to Senigallia Railway in Central Italy and on 20 January flew the first operation with his own crew, a raid against the Plombino Railway on the West Coast of Italy.
Operations followed on a regular basis but not without incident. On one Al Poole for some reason, collapsed after delivering flashes and on 1 February their Wellington was hit by 6 bursts during a raid to Maribou in Yugoslavia. Part of the windscreen was blown away and petrol tanks holed but they managed to limp home.

In between ops a certain amount of steam was clearly being let off at riotous parties and after one such event Laurie wrote "Had a party at 104 Squadron. Merry - Not Arf. Had a door thrown at me."
At another "Had [party] tonight at 5th Army camp - drinking Sarti Cognac and Vesuvius special - champagne and cherry brandy in equal proportions. Really good".
On 17 February flying Wellington X HE237 'B' they bombed San Stefano. Laurie reported that they "had trouble all the way with 'B' but made the grade OK".
The next day Laurie recorded "Went to flight and told 'B' had been repaired. Ken Lyon was later blown up on take off in 'B'"
All the crew were killed except the rear gunner who was badly injured. Two days later because he had flown the aircraft the day before the crash, Laurie gave evidence at the Court of Enquiry about the trouble that he had experienced with the aircraft.
On 19 February a seemingly melancholy Laurie wrote "My sweetheart's birthday. I wish I was with her tonight and every night".

More operations interspersed with drinking parties and the odd spell of leave to Pompeii were to follow but so many ops were being scrambled (scrubbed) that Laurie recorded on 31 March "Briefed for ops and scrambled ditto last night. It's getting me down. If this keeps up I'll never get finished".
He need not have worried: the very next day they raided the Varese aircraft factory and although the parties were far from over operations also came thick and fast as did the ack ack on many of them. Though many friends were lost the Tichborne crew's luck held.
But it wasn't all doom and gloom: on Sun 23 April Laurie noted that, "Our entertainment officer is so tired of planning updates of parties - has placed up a notice 'PARTY EACH EVENING' "
For reasons unknown, in May 1944 Bob Walsh the crew's navigator, was replaced permanently by a 22 year old New Zealander, Les Goodlet.

Wellington LN921 pictured above, had been flown by P/O. R. Collins on the Porto Ferrajo (Elba) raid of 16/17 May 1944. Due to engine trouble the aircraft was unable to reach the target and returned early. The aircraft did not apparently fly again operationally and was SOC (struck off charge) as DBR (damaged beyond repair) following an accident on 30 May 1944.

Unlike the European Theatre, where a tour of operations was quite simply a matter of totting up the number of completed operations carried out by a crew, in the Middle East and Mediterranean a tour was calculated by reference to the number of completed operational flying hours, the number of hours constituting a tour being 250.
By the end of June 1944 Laurie Tichborne had completed 38 operations, 36 with No. 40 Squadron plus 1 at OTU and the Ferry Flight and in doing so had amassed a total of 232 hours of operational flying. With 18 hours to go he was perhaps looking at a further 2 or 3 operations to complete his tour. But because Laurie had flown one more operation than the rest of the crew the others (apart from Les Goodlet) would have completed about 226 hours with about 3 or 4 operations to go. All things being equal all except Les Goodlet would be home and dry by the end of July at the latest.
On 2 July Laurie Tichborne and his crew were detailed for an attacked on the Prahova oil refinery at Bucharest. No. 40 Squadron was to contribute 6 Wellingtons to the force of 31 Wellingtons, 9 Liberators and 8 Halifaxes of 205 Group despatched on this operation, the main object of which was to destroy the oil storage tanks of the refinery.


An hour after sunset the six aircraft of No 40 Squadron began taking off from Foggia Main. Fifth in line, Wellington ME990 piloted by Laurie Tichborne left at 22.12. It was Laurie's 39th op and apart from navigator Les Goodlet the crew had flown most if not all of them with him. They were a well drilled outfit as one would expect given their experience and as they busied themselves with their various routines Laurie headed approximately east north east towards the target.
Two hours later at 0045 hours they were within half an hour of the target when they were attacked by a hitherto unseen Junkers Ju88 resulting in several feet of the port wing being shot away.
Laurie instinctively began a corkscrew but the enemy fighter attacked again and this time set the starboard engine on fire. Laurie feathered the engine and losing height, jettisoned the bomb load before setting a course for Turkey. The fighter attacked a third time without effect but attacking yet again set the plane on fire aft. Laurie ordered "Prepare to abandon" but at 4000 feet with the aircraft becoming out of control he ordered, "Abandon".
Les the navigator jumped first followed by air bomber Tony and then Al, the wireless operator. By the time Laurie jumped the Wellington was down to 1500 feet and the aircraft blazing furiously. It had been impossible to reach the rear turret to check on Spud.
The bomber crashed in flames and exploded with red and green very cartridges exploding near the village of Măceșu de Sus some 45 miles south of Craiova.

Aircraft of the attacking force bombed on Target Indicators laid accurately by 614 Squadron.
Of the No. 40 squadron aircraft detailed, MF244 flown by Sgt, N Walters returned early due to oil on windscreen obscuring forward vision entirely, ME 990 and LP253 flown by Fl/Sgt. R.D. Sutcliffe were shot down by night fighters whilst the other three bombed the target and returned safely to Foggia. Flying only his second operation as captain Fl/Sgt. Sutcliffe RCAF and two other crew members were taken as prisoners of war whilst his rear gunner and navigator were both killed.
Liberator FW199 of No. 31 SAAF Squadron was also shot down by night fighters. The pilot, Captain R.D. Bird SAAF and his wireless operator were taken as prisoners of war whilst the other four crew members were all killed.

Laurie Tichborne landed heavily and spraining his ankle but somehow managed to walk, or hobble, in a westerly direction for the next six hours before being picked up by what he perceived to be local peasants who gave him food and the promise to take him to the Allies. True to their word they duly handed him over to the authorities at PoW camp Lagarul No. 13 where indeed the Allies were, albeit prisoners of war. He was interrogated by both Germans and Romanians for a couple of days before being taken to the camp itself on 6 July.

Laurie was shown the body of the rear gunner Spud Murphy. There were three holes (probably cannon shells) through his chest and he was buried in a small town on the Danube south of Craiova. Laurie was permitted to attend the funeral.
In a letter to his fiancée, Celia, Laurie tells her of the crash and Spud's death. He also tells of having been to see Al Poole the wireless operator who was in hospital with a badly injured foot sustained on landing. Al, he says, "was quite happy as three of his friends who had been missing for some time are there with him."
Lagarul De Prizionieri No. 13 was within the barracks of the 6th Mihai Viteazul Guard Regiment in Bucharest where a few large barrack buildings were used for housing the prisoners. The camp however was in the target area of the city of Bucharest which was frequently bombed by RAF, USAAF and Russian Air Force and later by the Luftwaffe.
Laurie was one of 70 officers accommodated in a room 70 ft x 35 ft lit by 3 x 20 watt electric lamps. He said in his liberation report that the bedding was OK and that because of the time of year heating was unnecessary. There was also a dining hall, showers and lavatories.
For the first five weeks breakfast consisted of ersatz tea, brown bread (jam sometimes); dinner was cabbage soup, brown bread, boiled macaroni and supper was cucumber salad, brown bread and curd cheese. He says that after the 5th week rations improved and were quite good.
Air Bomber Tony Duff was also captured and is thought to have been also held at Lagarul De Prizionieri No. 13 though nothing is known of the circumstances of his capture or subsequent release although a note in the records of the Australia Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial at Ballarat, Victoria states "Held as POW in Bucharest Rumania Escaped to Switzerland 2/7/1944 RTA". The date is clearly an error as he was not taken prisoner until 3 July.
Tony Duff is known to have survived the war and returned to Australia.
Al Poole, the Wireless Operator sustained a broken ankle when he landed in a field.
“I made a splint for the ankle out of corn stalks and the shrouds of my chute”, he said. “A little later a farmer went by in a cart and I fired a distress signal, but he didn’t stop. I lay in that field that night and the next day, getting good and thirsty.”
His was a story reminiscent of that of the pilot in that towards dusk he too was picked up by a group of country people who removed the splint and took him by truck to Bucharest where he was placed in a prison hospital with other Allied airmen.
“The hospital was staffed by Rumanians and we were treated well,” he said. “Later I was moved to the school, where the treatment was also good. We were allowed outside only half an hour a day for exercise, but the food was adequate and those of us who had money could buy extras through the guards. The guards would give us money for rings, watches or any kind of jewellery.”

Les Goodlet also landed safely, was captured and made a prisoner of war. Alas nothing further is known of his experiences except that he was liberated and repatriated to New Zealand.
On 23 August 1944, with the Red Army penetrating German defences during the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive, King Michael I of Romania led a successful coup against the Axis and in a radio broadcast to the Romanian nation and army on the night of 23 August issued a cease-fire, proclaimed Romania's loyalty to the Allies and declared war on Germany. That night the PoWs were told the news and that since Romania was now on the side of the Allies, they were all free. But if the erstwhile prisoners thought their problems were over they were soon proved wrong.
The following morning German aircraft began raiding the city and continued to do so for a few days. Laurie Tichborne reported that "Guns from various crashed aircraft plus guns supplied by [the] Romanians [were] set up in camp for [our] own protection. Had to go to well outside city for water supplies and it was then that we shot at snipers [sic]."
"Eventually on 31 August evacuated by fleet of B17s (Fortresses) of the American 15th Air Force and flown to Bari - Italy."
And Al Poole recalled,
“We had just been told we were free. Our prison was a former boarding school in the centre of the city. We went out in the streets when the people thronged around and gave us cigarettes and wine. Even when the Germans were still there, people used to wave at us and give us the ‘V’ sign as they passed under our windows. Just as we were getting used to the idea of being free, the German planes appeared and started machine-gunning. We scooted back into the school. As the Germans withdrew, their aircraft ranged back and forth over the city, strafing and machine-gunning the people in the streets."
On the 27 August they were removed to the airfield on the city’s outskirts to await evacuation by Allied aircraft from Italy and on 31 August Allied PoWs were evacuated by a fleet of B17s (Fortresses) of the American 15th Air Force and flown to Bari - Italy.
As they left advance units of the Russian army were seen to enter the city.
Two months later Albert Poole was repatriated to Canada.

Laurie Tichborne was returned to RAAFLO Middle East from where he would normally have been repatriated to Australia. However he expressed a desire to be sent to the UK as he was engaged to Miss C. Fanning of 56, Milling Road, Edgeware, Middlesex and he desired to be married.
His request was duly granted and he arrived in the UK on 18 September 1944. Laurie and his fiancée were married before the year was out.
Laurie became a pilot instructor at No. 21 Operational Training Unit and was demobilised on 23 August 1946 having been promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 19 January 1945


(1) Fl/Lt. Lawrence Franklin Tichborne was born on 1 April 1917 at Blackall, Queensland, Australia the son of John Henry Tichborne (1875-1941) and Catherine Tichborne nee Mills (1879-1937). He had three siblings: Jean Thelma Tichborne born 1912; Clarence John Henry Tichborne (1914-2001) and Hazel Catherine Tichborne (1920-2003)

After leaving school he was employed as an Electrical Labourer
When he enlisted at Brisbane on 1 February 1942 he was 6' 0½" tall, weighing 158 lbs with a fair complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair.
After training at No.3 Initial Training School at RAAF Sandgate, Queensland, No. 5 Elementary Flying Training School at RAAF Narromine, New South Wales and No 8 Service Flying Training School RAAF Bundaberg Queensland he was awarded his Flying Badge and was promoted to Sergeant on 27 November 1942. His remained at No. 8 SFTS until 13 January 1943 when he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer and on 6 March embarked at Melbourne for the UK. On 18 April, the day after his arrival, he was postedtoNo. 11 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre at RAF Brighton.
On 15 June he was posted to No. 20 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Kidlington, Oxfordshire for training on Airspeed Oxfords and Avro Ansons followed on 31 August with a posting for to No. 21 Operational Training Unit at RAF Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire for night bomber training on Wellingtons. Whilst at 21 OTU he was promoted to Flying Officer on 14 July. On 1 December he was posted to No. 311 Ferry Training Unit also at Moreton-in-Marsh and on 16 Jan 1944 to No. 40 Squadron at Foggia Main, Italy.

After returning to the UK after his liberation he became a Pilot Instructor at No. 21 Operational Training Unit from 19 December 1944 until 24 September 1945.
He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 19 January 1945.
On leaving 21 OTU on 14 September 1945 his superior officers' reported that:
This officer carried out his duties in a most keen and conscientious manner. Very neat and smart in appearance.
This officer always sets a very high example. He is of the best type and should reach high rank in Regular Service
He was demobilised from the RAAF in the UK at 33 Personnel Despatch Centre (HQ for demobilisation Overseas - Discharge List 113)
On 28 October 1944 Laurie married Gladys Mary Cecilia Fanning in Annunciation RC Church at Burnt Oak, Middlesex. They went on to have three sons and three daughters.
After leaving the RAAF Laurie continued his career as a pilot for several years working as a civilian pilot for John Howard Construction in the Middle East. As a reservist, he was also called up for the Berlin Airlift, although his role in the operation is not known.
Lawrence Franklin Tichborne died at home in Mill Hill in the London Borough of Barnet of natural causes on 31 January 1987, aged 69 and predeceasing his wife Celia by 21 years.

(2) WO. Leslie John Goodlet was born on 9 May 1922 at Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand the son of Mr and Mrs A. C. Goodlet of 350 Cargill Road Dunedin.
In 1946 he married Nada May Scott
Leslie John Goodlet died in New Zealand in 1995

(3) Fl/Lt. Anthony Thomas Duff was born on 8 August 1923 at East Maitland, New South Wales Australia the son of Eric Duff. He enlisted at Sydney.

He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation on 11 June 1943 (Commonwealth of Australia Government Gazette 9 September 1943) confirmed in this appointment and promoted to Flying Officer on 11 December 1943 (Government Gazette 15 June 1944). He was promoted to temporary Flight Lieutenant with effect from 11 June 1945 (Government Gazette 2 August 1945) and this appointment terminated on demobilisation on 6 September 1945 (Government Gazette 14March 1946)
He was demobilised on 6 September 1945.
Married to Mary they lived at Sydney, New South Wales.

The following notice concerning Anthony Duff was published in the Government Gazette of 7 January 1954
Department of Defence Production
Appointments effected under Section 47.—Anthony Thomas Duff (born 8.8.23), without probation as Chemist, Grade 1 (£620-£908), Third Division, Explosives Factory, St. Mary's, New South Wales, new office Cert. 52/1580, with effect on and from 9th October, 1953, or date of commencing duty, whichever is the later.— (Ex. Min. No. 64.)
It is believed that in his civilian career Tony was involved in the nuclear testing program run by the Government at a high level.

(4) F/O. Albert Ivan Poole was born on 18 March 1920 the son of Mr and Mrs A.W. Poole at Belleoram, Newfoundland and Labrador. Before joining the RAFVR in Newfoundland in 1941 Albert was a School Teacher.

After training as a wireless operator and air gunner he was commissioned, details of which are as follows:
798672 LAC Albert Ivan Poole was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 19 June 1942 (London Gazette 23 February 1943) confirmed in this appointment and promoted to Flying officer (war subs) on 29 December 1942 (London Gazette 7 May 1943).
He then served on the staff of the wireless school at RCAF Malton until being posted to the UK in May 1943.
He was further promoted to Flight Lieutenant (war subs) on 29 June 1944 (London Gazette 21 July 1944)
He married June Mary Faithfull at Fairlawn United Church, Toronto and they later had two daughters.
Albert Ivan Poole died at Grand Bend, Ontario in 1992.

(5) F/O. John Charles Murphy was born in 1923 at Gloucester, Gloucestershire the son of Arthur John Murphy (a Timber Importer's Traveller) and Doris Mary Murphy nee Charles, of Gloucester. He had a brother, Peter H Murphy born 1924

In 1939 the family lived at 16 Robinson Road, Gloucester.
1585618 LAC John Charles Murphy was commissioned as a Pilot officer on probation (emergency) on 23 July 1943 (London Gazette 5 October 1943) confirmed in this appointment and promoted to Flying officer (war subs) on 23 January 1944 (London Gazette 28 January 1944)
He is commemorated on the Gloucester War Memorial, Gloucester Park, Park Road Gloucester.


F/O. John Charles Murphy was buried at Bucharest War Cemetery, Romania - Grave reference: Plot 1 Row A Grave 2.
His epitaph reads:
"Thine eyes shall see
The King in His beauty
And behold the land afar"

On behalf of Aircrew Remembered, Roy Wilcock would like to thank Roger Tichborne, son of Lawrence Franklin Tichborne, for providing and permitting the use of, family photographs, extracts from his father's private diary and much invaluable information about his father and other members of the crew.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - October 2018

With thanks to the sources quoted below.
RW 20.10.2018
RW 18.11.2018 Substantial additional material added courtesy Roger Tichborne.
Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
Click any image to enlarge it

Saturday, 9 November 2019

The Saturday List #240 - 10 things I still miss about my Dad

Sunday the 9th November 1986 is a date that always brings a tear to my eye. Today is the 33rd anniversary of that day. What happened you may ask? I had a curry with my Dad. He'd been seriously ill earlier in the year, having his Gall Bladder removed. After a lifetime of smoking 60 ciggies a day, he'd given up. Earlier in the day, he'd been to Mass with my mum and then she'd travelled to Bournemouth to see her sister Margo for a few days. Dad was at a loose end and rang me up, asking if I fancied a curry. I was living in Mollison Way at the time and had nothing in the diary. So we went for a pint and a game of snooker at The Services club, a curry and a nightcap at my parents house. The next day, I had a sore head at work. My parents would shortly depart to Florida, for a holiday in the sun to recharge their batteries. The plan was to stay with my sister Valerie until the colder months of winter passed. I didn't know it, but it would be the last time I ever saw my Father alive. He returned to the UK on the 29th January, as my mums sister Margo had unexpectedly passed away, I didn't know he'd returned, as there were no mobiles and they hadn't called me. The first I found out, was at 7am on the 31th, when my brother Laurie called, telling me he had passed away in the night, with a suspected heart attack. It was an event that changed my life, for the worse. I still miss him.

1) His turn of phrase. He had a way of descriptively summing up situations concisely, with wit, sarcasm and humour. He had all manner of strange sayings, from the outback of Australia where he was raised and from the RAF. I recall watching the World at War with him, and as a senior RAF officer was talking, he commented "How would he know, he was a shiny arsed desk jockey".

2) His "Will do" attitude. If he decided to do something, nothing would stop him. Perhaps the best example was when our next door neighbours had a tree that was undermining the foundations of our house. He asked them to have it removed and they refused. He simply found out when they were on holiday and got a few mates to come around and chop it down and burn it, then denied all knowledge, claiming he thought they'd seen sense.

3) His maniac driving. My Father was a complete petrol head. His pride and joy was a 3litre Capri, that had been souped up for the Pan African rally. He drove it like a looney. If he saw a Police car, he'd burn them off. If a speeding ticket turned up, he'd simply say that it was one of the staff at the garage he ran and claim he was very cross. He was no respecter of authority and driving laws. He would take us out for drives and took great delight in driving extremely fast through puddles, especially if there was someone he didn't like the look of nearby. As a kid, I thought this was normal sensible behaviour. 

4) His extraordinary kindness. My mother used to berate him for being too kind. One of his staff spent all of his wages at the bookies before Christmas. The guys wife was sent up to plead for an advance on his wages. My Dad refused, but then took her around to the Butchers, bought her  a turkey and then to the Co Op and bought her a box of provisions. He said "The idiot can't spend that, so you will have a Christmas". He then told her that she had to collect the wages in future, and if she wanted to give him pocket money for the bookies, that was her business. The following week on pay day, they guy kicked off. My Dad, who was a fearsome character said "You are an idiot, but your wife isn't. If you take my advice and let her watch the money, you'll still have a wife this time next year". My mother was furious at him for spending so much, but he said he couldn't sleep if one of his staff's 
family wasn't having a Christmas dinner. 

5) His sense of fun. My father believed life was to be enjoyed and money was to be spent. He loved winning raffles, so would buy as many tickets as he could afford, winning all manner of useless prizes. At one event he won five in a row. When someone suggest that he give the prize back, he replied that if they wanted it, they should buy more tickets. Again to my mum's disgust, he'd always have the most expensive steak on the menu, when eating out. His view was that that was the thing he'd enjoy most, so that's what he'd have. 

6) His disdain for cheapskates. The one thing my father despised more than anything, was people who wouldn't buy their round in the pub. Cheapskatery was to him the sign of sad, unimaginative person. To be called a 'Skinflint' by my father was to be damned forever. 

7) His advice on dating. My Dad was a charmer. He thought I was a bit dim and a bit useless as a teenager, so he'd impart all manner of interesting advice "Don't eat spaghetti on the first date as you'll make a mess of your shirt and look like an idiot", "Always polish your shoes before a date, as women look at your feet first",  "The more special you make a girl feel, the more she'll like you". My father told me once that he was bemused that I ever had a girlfriend. I was taken aback and asked why. He said "You never brush your hair, you're always skint and you haven't got a car". I replied "Yeah, but I've got your charm when I need it". He just laughed and said "yeah, but think what you could be doing if you brushed your hair, had cash and a decent car". 

8) His boxing and cricket commentaries. Watching Boxing and Cricket with my Dad was always fun. He'd played cricket at a good level in Australia and boxed in the Australian Army and Air Force. He loved both sports. He would give us a commentary. I always thought he was talking nonsense, until the Rumble in The Jungle fight between Ali and Foreman. He loved Ali, thought he was a boxing genius and a man of high principle. I recall him telling someone who called Ali a coward for dodging the draft that no one was a coward who got in a boxing ring. In the fourth round of Ali's Rope a Dope routine, as Foreman battered him, I said "Foreman is slaughtering him". My Dad replied "No, Ali is too smart for him, he's tiring him out". In round 8, he said "Told you so". His favourite cricketers were Jeff Thompson and Dennis Lillie, proper Aussie fast bowlers. 

9) His ability to mend things. My Dad was a superb engineer. There was nothing mechanical that he couldn't mend. He'd buy broken petrol lawn mowers and fix them and all manner of household appliances were fixed. He tried to pass this on. When my elder brother wanted electric guitars, he bought them the bits to make them. Frank became a rocket scientist and Laurie the worlds finest welder.

10) His cooking. Unlike many men of his generation, My Dad was a brilliant cook. His range was limited,  for breakfast, he'd make awesome omlettes and bacon and tomato sandwiches. He'd buy the best ingredients he could, and taught me this was the secret of success. For lunch or dinner, it would be steak. He liked steak to be incinerated, I loved it. His view was that if it took more than 15 minutes to cook, it wasn't worth the effort. Steak with veg was the perfect dish for him. At our last dinner, I asked him about his cooking skills. He told me that his mum had told him "learn to cook the things you really like, then you will always live like a king!". It was wise advice. 

I miss him. I wish I'd appreciated him more when I had the chance. 
Please join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission

Friday, 8 November 2019

The Friday Joke - Who should you cast your vote for in the 2019 General Election

I am starting to think that Politics has been reinvented as satire. We have a Prime Minister who made his name as a bumbling idiot on a comedy quiz show. We have leader of the opposition, who is bidding to be Prime Minister having made a career of being an Ultra backbencher, spending more of his time disagreeing with former leaders of his own party than the Tories. We have a leader of the Brexit Party who can't even be bothered to stand, because he knows he'd lose for an eighth time in a row. We have a Leader of The Lib Dems who desperately wants to see a coalition government but claims she can't support the leader of the Tories or Labour????

So who should you vote for? The Barnet Eye would never seek to tell you, but here are a few pointers, that we hope will give you a few ideas.

You should consider voting Conservative if.....
You think that Boris shafting the DUP on Brexit was a price worth paying.
You hate the poor because their poverty is all their own fault
You think that Jacob Rees Mogg is the voice of reason.
You hated the 1970's and want to return Great Britain to the 1950's, it was much nicer then.
You run a hedge fund or present a TV program for petrol heads.

You  should consider votinge Labour if.....
You sort of want something to happen to make Brexit go away
You hate very rich people.
You hate you hate public school education (unless your kids go there).
You think that Leon Trotsky is the voice of reason.
You want a return to the 1970's (punk rock, free university education, British Rail)
You work in the public sector for an area ripe for outsourcing.

You  should consider voting Lib Dem if......
You hate Brexit.
You can't stomach Nigel Farage, Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson.
You love the 1970's, but only for the disco music and cheese and wine parties with Blue Nun.
You think that Delia Smith is the voice of reason.
You don't trust the either of the current Labour or Tory party to be left alone with the keys to no 10.
You work for yourself and know that an economic disaster will destroy your business.

You  should consider voting Brexit Party if......
You want a no deal Brexit.
You only trust Nigel Farage out of all the political leaders.
You think Anne Widdecombe is the voice of reason.
You remember the glory days of the 1970's as listening to Skrewdriver and football firms
You think that everyone else is either a traitor or a splitter or an establishment stooge.
You have retired, have a safe pension and no children or grandchildren

You  should consider voting Green if.....
Sod Brexit, You were arrested at the XR protests for civil disobedience
You think meat is murder and we should all turn vegan
You think that Ralph Nader is the voice of reason.
Sod the 1970's, it's the 1960's we should return to, Hippies and Peace and Love.
You like a big spliff, but only for medicinal reasons.
Work... What's that?????


Please join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission