August 2020

1st August 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

Local writer, Johnny Carrington, has had the script of his play, “Mitchell’s Wings” published. He has kindly offered a 10% discount on purchases to readers of our page. Please contact: johnnycarringtonpublishing@gmail.com and mention you heard about it here.

A Spitfire Makers review follows…

RJ Mitchell, the renowned designer of the Spitfire, lived an all too short life in the first half of the 20th century.

Johnny Carrington’s recently published play portrays both the delight of Mitchell’s triumphs and the despair of personal tragedy that happened to this driven genius.

The play is a historically accurate drama of the life and work of the man behind the iconic fighter but it is also a moving tribute to those who built and flew it as well as those who just looked up and watched it (and still do) “slip the surly bonds of earth and dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings” (from poem, “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee).

The accuracy comes not only from meticulous research but also from hours of interviews Carrington carried out with some of the play’s real-life protagonists.

The insight into Mitchell’s family life is interwoven with reference to letters and diaries but also narrated in the words of Gordon his son. Childhood memories are recreated and a grown-up Gordon is our onstage guide, commentating perceptively on the nostalgic action.

Stories of “the machine that inspired a nation” are told in the words of colleagues of Mitchell, apprentices and women workers from the Southampton Spitfire factory and we see the first flight of the Spitfire through the eyes of a young girl who was there. Four years later the same girl, evacuated to Swanage, watches with a friend the plane caught in a dogfight above the Dorset coast and this creates a powerful opening scene.

As chair of the recently formed, Southampton-based Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust, I was particularly taken with the passages which brought to life the stories linked to the “so many” workers who were risking their lives to keep building the planes for the “so few” to fly.

This sort of attention to detail is not only a tribute to Carrington’s historical accuracy and integrity but reflects the reality of life, and death, on the home front as well as in the battle going on above.

The scenes told from the point of view of Wing Commander Bob Doe, a Spitfire ace, also interviewed by Carrington, are among the most poignant. He describes the elation of a pilot at the controls of “the most comfortable plane I have ever sat in” and later Doe tells how he damaged a German plane over the Isle of Wight but couldn’t bring himself, “to finish him off”.

This “sudden act of kindness” reappears in the, “Some Sunny Day” ‘theme song’ of the play and is reinforced when we hear that he received a letter from the German pilot’s wife after the war. Her husband was rescued after ditching in the Channel and she writes, “If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have my grandchildren.”

Tender touches like this characterise the essence of the play. There are, of course, some moments of jingoistic patriotism but these are balanced by such scenes of poignant emotion which transcend the partisan nature of the politics and hostilities of those dark days.

Carrington has not only gathered the archival material with which his script is suffused but provided a production-ready compendium of multimedia files to accompany the drama: music, audio and video files are freely accessible from an online source.

Two of the original showings were in the aircraft museums of Army Flying and Solent Sky which were especially fitting venues as well as suiting the ‘promenade’ style of performance. The script is extremely adaptable to such settings (maybe even with social distancing) but would work equally well in a more traditional space.

With this year’s 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the ongoing admiration for the part in it played by the Spitfire – its designers and builders as well as pilots, “Mitchell’s Wings” deserves to be seen by a wider audience and with it writer Johnny Carrington has certainly earned his own wings.

1st August 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

Spitfire salute to our wonderful NHS workers captured by one of our Spitfire Makers project team, Sarah Penfold, as it flew over her house in Lyndhurst this afternoon.

Image by Infinityphotography@hotmail.co.uk

In a similar way, the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust, in this 80th year since the Battle of Britain, is saluting the “so many” workers who risked their lives making the planes for the “so few” to fly.

For more information or to tell us about someone you know who helped make Spitfires email spitfiremakersresearch@btinternet.com

6th August 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

UNESCO

Never forget the victims, never forget History.

On the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of #Hiroshima, let’s recall and reaffirm our commitment to #peaceDove of peace.

https://on.unesco.org/30ww995#Hiroshima75#HiroshimaDay

Remembering with UNESCO all the victims of this and all conflicts.

9th August 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

Great to see the memorial Spitfire has arrived in Salisbury.

Secretspitfires.com

Congratulations to all who have worked to make it happen from Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust, Southampton.

18th August 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

Would you like to see not just one Spitfire but the whole of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight?

Follow this link to sign the petition…

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/325339

18th August 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

Thanks to Anne Grant at Solent Aviatrix for supporting us with a piece on her website which features some more of our Spitfire Makers pennants.https://solentaviatrix.wordpress.com/…/spitfire-makers…/

26th August 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

TOP SECRET SPITFIRE PRODUCTION IN SHIRLEY?

Can you help us uncover the hidden history of “Light and Law”.

We now know the locations of over 30 premises within Southampton where Spitfires Makers were at work. However, one that remains to be pinned down is the Winchester Road, Shirley, business of “Light and Law”.

We know, according to Kelly’s, there was a “Motor Engineers” with that name which operated out of what was probably the old stables or coach house of Oatlands House. It was there before, during and after the war until the early 60s when the St James’ Close flats were built. In 1954 it was also listed as Oatlands Garage.

During the war Oatlands House housed the men and women of the team that operated the barrage balloon in St James’ Park (Shirley Rec). The drawing below shows the plan for the air raid shelter that was built for them in the grounds of the house.

We have heard that during the war, alongside motor vehicle repairs, “Light and Law” also produced parts for Spitfire propellers. “There was just enough room downstairs for a couple of cars and a little rickety wooden staircase that went up the side…”While “he still worked frantically away on his lathe” in the upstairs workshop, Mr Law was heard to say, “I’m the only one left doing this. If I don’t continue then we are not going to win the Battle of Britain!”

Unfortunately we don’t have a photo of the garage, Mr Light or Mr Law. Please have a look at the maps, old and new, and the other info we have so far. Maybe you knew Mr Light or Mr Law or perhaps you can add something to help confirm that this was indeed one of our secret Spitfire production facilities?

Please post a reply here or email us at – spitfiremakersresearch@btinternet.com

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