Operation Chastise took place on the 16th & 17th of May 1943, better known to the wider public as the Dam Busters Raid it was an attack by Dam Busters 617 Squadron on the Dams in the Ruhr valley. It had the objective of disrupting German industry and water supplies. At around 21:30 69 years ago today Avro Lancasters of 617 Squadron took off carrying the now famous bouncing bombs and headed for Germany.
What some of you may not know is that the “The Dam Busters” perfected the new low level bombing technique required to drop Barns Wallis’ invention with training runs over the Derwent Dam. Not only was the Dam used to train for the actual raid but it also appears in the 1954 B&W classic war film which stars Richard Todd as Guy Gibson and Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis.
These days the reservoirs and valley that once echoed with the sound of Lancasters 1,620 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 224 engines is now peaceful. A magnet for locals and tourists with nothing more dangerous than the local ducks and geese flying low over its waters, but at the entrance to the west tower on the dam wall is a small memorial to the men of 617 Squadron while in the West Tower is small Museum. Known locally as the Dam Busters Museum it opens Sundays and Bank Holiday
Casualties and losses of Operation Chastise
8 aircraft shot down and 53 aircrew killed. 3 aircrew were taken prisoner. Two dams breached and one dam was lightly damaged killing approximately 1,600 people including over 1,000 (mainly soviet) prisoners and forced labourers.
Cpl Liam Riley of the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment is one of three local heroes who were honoured this morning (Monday 14 March 2011) with the unveiling of their statues at “The Portrait Bench in Killamarsh.
The centre figure is Cpl Riley who was Killed in Helmand Province Afghanistan on 1 February 2010. He was famously described by Prince Harry as “a legend”, the two had met during military training in Canada. Liams mum Cheryl and Sister Olivia were at this mornings event and paid tribute to Liam his mum saying
“it will be nice to be able to drive home and be welcomed by my son”
The second figure is the celebrated Sheffield boxer IBF, European & British light heavyweight champion and former Commonwealth champion at light heavyweight and super middleweight Clinton Woods.
The third statue is former Steelworker Colin Savage. Colin who has a love of walking has campaigned successfully for improved local paths giving improvised access to the countryside through lobbying fundraising and gerneral support.
The Portrait Bench is located at the Junction of Forge Lane and Sheffield Rd Killamarsh and is part of a new National collection of portraits in local communities of local figures chosen by the local community. Together the portrait bench collection will represent around 230 characters, some known out side their communities some not, which will have been chosen by thousands of people across the UK.
Sheffield flying fortress – On Sunday 19February 2012 I worked a shift for one of the local newspapers on the diary was a wreath laying at a memorial for the crew of a B17 flying fortress which crashed in Sheffield shortly before 5pm, 22nd of February 1944 killing all 10 crew:
First Lieutenant John Glennon Krieghauser, pilot.
Second Lieutenant Lyle J Curtis, co-pilot
Second Lieutenant John W Humphrey, navigator
Second Lieutenant Melchor Hernandez, bombardier
Staff Sergeant Robert E Mayfield, radio operator
Staff Sergeant Harry W Estabrooks, engineer / top turret gunner
Sergeant Charles H Tuttle, ball-turret gunner
Sergeant Maurice O Robbins, tail gunner
Sergeant Vito R Ambrosio, right waist gunner
Muster Sergeant George U Williams, left waist gunner
The youngest was 21 the eldest 24. Intrigued by the story of the Sheffield Flying Fortress I decided to find out more.
February 20 to 25 1944 was to become known as “Big Week”. Officially designated Operation Argument the US 8th Air Force were tasked with massive daylight air-raids on the Third Reich’s aircraft industry while RAF Bomber Command supported the daylight the raids by operating against the same targets at night. The intent was to destroy Germany’s aircraft factories, lure Luftwaffe into a decisive confrontation and defeat them. This would give the Allies air superiority in preparation for Operation Overlord.
Against this background, around mid-day, Tuesday 22nd February 1944, the USAAF B17 Flying Fortress Mi Amigo with its 10 crewmen reached the coast of Denmark along with the rest of the 305 Bombardment Group from the US 8 Air Force. Cloud cover was thick, there was little chance the bombers would locate their target and German 88mm anti-aircraft guns were peppering the sky with black clouds of shrapnel filled flak, but the aim of this mission wasn’t just to bomb targets, it was to draw out the Luftwaffe’s fighters so they pressed on.
Attacked by Focke-Wulf Fw-190’s the squadron leader decided enough was enough, the 305 Bombardment Group jettisoned their bombs and headed for their home base, RAF Station Chelveston (USAAF Station 105) in Northamptonshire. At some point in the mission whether from flak, fighters or probably both Mi Amigo sustained damage. The reports from other aircraft in the formation indicate Mi Amigo was in trouble. The Flying Fortress was struggling to maintain altitude, more than one of her engines was misfiring, her “skin was in tatters” and she was beginning to fall behind the rest. A “nursemaid” was assigned to try and help Mi Amigo home but thick cloud that probably saved the stricken bomber from the fighters now became an enemy. The Flying Fortress assigned to escort Mi Amigo lost visual contact with with her around 500 miles from the English coast. Despite attempts to regain contact the next sighting of Mi Amigo was shortly before 17:00 on the 22nd of February, she was well off course, around 100 miles from Chelveston, over Endcliffe Park 2 miles south-west of Sheffield City Centre.
Eyewitness accounts of Mi Amigos last moments vary “ it circled” “it rolled”, “it clipped the trees” “the engines stuttered”. Some believe that pilot First Lieutenant John Glennon Krieghauser, spotted the 75 hectare Endcliffe park as a place to put down but seeing children playing football he chose to crash the massive Flying Fortress on the wooded hillside short of the open area where children were playing.
Jeff Hawkins a 14 year old at the time didn’t see the Sheffield flying fortress crash but was one of the first on scene. He describes what he saw in an interview with the Sheffield Star. (There’s a slightly different account from Jeff Hawkins here)
“We heard a huge roar, echoing across the valley, that lasted only three or four seconds and ended abruptly,”
“This huge silver bomber was lying among the broken trees near to the bottom of the bank, across the river, with its nose pointing down towards the river.”
“There appeared to be little damage to the aircraft which was in one piece except for the tail and rear end of the fuselage which appeared to have parted from the main fuselage and was left further up the bank.”
“The wings, engines, fuselage and cockpit were all relatively intact. The only fire that was visible was a small flame and a little smoke from a wing.”
Initially the eyewitness and onlookers were able to get close to the wreck but children were ushered away, as at least one unidentified corpse had been thrown clear. Again the accounts begin to differ some describe hearing crews cries for help, others that say they sent the would be rescuers away. One young Sheffielder said he tried to pull an airman clear, but the man’s legs were trapped.
Interestingly on my way out of the park, after photographing the wreath laying, I spoke with an old gentleman and his family. He how told me how he and his friend saw the Flying Fortress
“it came over from out towards Bradway”.
“I set off home on my bike but my friend set off for the crash site”. “He tried to save one of the crewmen I’m sure he was given some kind of award or something for it.”
Once the fire took hold and unspent ammunition from its guns started to “cook off” the Sheffield locals were forced back and Mi Amigo was destined to become a burnt out wreck.
What ever really happened aboard Mi Amigo will remain a mystery, no radio contact, unable to give a situation report to their comrades and no survivors tell their story, exactly how and why a B17 Flying Fortress ended up a burnt out wreck in a Sheffield City park can only ever by conjecture and guess work.
In Memory of those 10 young men every the people of Sheffield hold a wreath laying ceremony on the closest Sunday to the 22nd February in Endcliffe Park on the site of the Sheffield flying fortress crash and a Memorial service at St Augustine’s church Brocco Bank.
Mam Tor on the Western end of the Hope Valley in the Peak District is a 517 metres /1696 feet hill. Known as Mother Hill around 3000 years ago a group of Celtic People built a Bronze Age hill fort here and called it home.
Mam Tor is also known as the Shivering Mountain because of its instability. A land slip that probably began in pre-historic times and is still active today has opened up the whole side of Mam Tor, revealing what’s inside. It’s a classic example of a rotational landslip and during heavy or prolonged rainfall water seeps between the layers of rock causing them to become slippery. This allows the different layers shale and sandstone of to slide over one another resulting in further land slips. Experts believe this will only stop when face of the land slip reaches 30 degrees in probably another 1500 years.
Don’t expect to visit here and be able enjoy solitude especially at weekends not even on a cold January Winters day. It is such a popular spot that steps and a paved path have been added to protect Mam Tor from the thousands upon thousands of feet that tramp over it every day.
As we get to the end of one more year I thought I might go through my archive of photographs and do a 2011 in pictures blog. A straight forward enough idea look back and choose some images but then came the questions…
How do I choose them?
From a whole year how many should I choose?
What about if I had 3 really nice photographs for one month but weaker ones shot in another?
Should I include personal photographs?
I decided I would choose one image taken during each month of the year, this would naturally limit the me to 12 photographs and force me to show some images I may not otherwise have selected. This collection of photographs is not a list of the 12 biggest news stories or celebrities or PR jobs I shot during the year. It’s not even necessarily the best 12 photographs I produced in 2011. It is a personal choice of pictures which are my some of my favourite photographs, some produced as commissioned images and others as personal images, one from each month of the year.
January 2011 – Hatfields Jaguar Dealer Principal Andrew Jeffery in the refurbished show room on Sharrow Vale Rd PR image commissioned by PFPR. This was one of my very first photographs of the year I really like the way I was able to both the Jaguar and Hatfields Brands in the same photograph despite them being in separate places,its not something that can always be achieved when building a PR photograph using two brand names.
February 2011 – Chris Huhne Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change visits Casa hotel in Chesterfield to hear about the hotel buildings energy efficient design and renewable energy. PR Image Commissioned by Bonner and Hindley This one is a very straight forward un posed grabshot I think its the light I love on this large windows in the boardroom allowed bags on even natural light in.
March 2011 – A protester grabbed by police after crossing the “Ring of Steel” fence in Barkers Pool, outside Sheffield city Hall where the Liberal Democrats are holding their Party conference Conference. A grabshot on a 17-35mm wide with the full frame Nikon D 700. I caught movement out on the corner of my eye and turned to see the police grabbing this protester after he had climbed over the metal barriers. Photograph shot on spec
April 2011 – Dancing on Ice Photocall Motorpoint Arena Hayley Tamaddon and Denise Welch joke in front of the cameras After posing with their dancing partners in the show Haley and Denise wandered back across to the photographers and began a few outlandish poses as though they were a dance couple. I grabbed a several photographs but especially like this frame, it captures the point at which they posing stopped and dropped into fits of laughter Photograph shot on spec.
May 2011 – My partner Aileen as watches the other runners cross the finish line while looking for her two young granddaughters who were also running. She had just completed the “Race for life” at Calendar Park in Falkirk. Personal Image
June 2011 – A wild Poppy growing on waste ground in Ecclesfield. As a freelance I carry a camera everywhere this was photograph was taken during a Monday morning walk with my camera when business was quiet. Photographed for use as a Stock image.
July 2011 – The Ponderosa “Spam” 1940’s war weekend held in Heckmondwike. Reenactors from the Northern World War Two Association portray German Panzergrenadiers from the Elite Heer (army) GrossDeutschland Division, defending a camouflaged mortar pit from attacking allied troops. Personal Photography Project
August 2011 – Wallace chases a ball in Ecclesfield Park while out walking. I took this on a borrowed 300mm F2.8 Nikon hand-held. I was about to do sport for a newspaper for the first time in a number of years and thought I would get a bit of practice in. Personal Image.
September 2011– Walkers Fresh Hot Crisp Tour comes to Barkers Pool Sheffield as Masterchef winner Lisa Faulkner Shows the three simple things that go into making a bag of crisps PR Image Commissioned by Freud Communications .
October 2011 – Complete with coffin, candles and gravestones a Vampire Fashion Show part of Sheffield’s Fashion Week. Photograph shot on Spec
November 2011 – A small wooden cross and poppy of the type that can be found on almost every War Memorial in the UK. This one was standing in among the remains of an old stone building on top of one the hills overlooking Langsett Reservoir on the Sunday after remembrance Sunday. Alone and out of the expected context it makes a poignant image. Photographed for use as a stock picture.
December 2011 – I spotted this during a nine mile walk around Grenoside woods on a very wet and dismal overcast Sunday afternoon. It was exactly the type of day that you don’t expect to get a usable photographs then I saw this large old fern it looked like something from the set of Jurassic Park. Photographed for use as a stock picture.
So there it is my year in photographs, no beaches in summer, no fireworks in November and no Santas in December
Private Thornton was deployed to Afghanistan in October of 2011. As a member of the support Company for 1 Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (1 YORKS), which is part of the The Queen’s Royal Hussars Battle Group, Matthew was based at the northern end of Lashkar Gah district in the Babaji area, at Checkpoint Koorashan. On the 9 November 2011 Private Thornton was taking part in a patrol to the north of Checkpoint Loy Mandeh, the aim was to develop a better understanding of the local area and people. During this Patrol his unit was attacked by an enemy using small arms fire and grenades, as Private Thornton was manoeuvring and returning fire an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was detonated and the blast killed him. Poignantly Matthew Thornton’s tragic death came less than a week after his 28th birthday and only 2 days before Remembrance Day (11 November).
Weekend of the Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 of July found the Ponderosa Centre in Heckmondwike was the scene of skirmishes and an pitched battles as once again they held “SPAM” the Ponderosa Wartime Weekend. The aim of SPAM is to transport visitors back to to the 1940’s, give them a taste of what life was like for the civilians and and soldiers of all nationalities who fought their way across Eastern and Western Europe.
Bigger and better than ever before gunfire could be heard though out the two days as Allied and Axis reenactors who were living in and around trenches, foxholes, dugouts, bunkers and a TV set style derelict village sent out patrols to reconnoitre and probe their enemies positions.
The weekend included a Spitfire flypast on Saturday while on both days military vehicles including three US tanks, a Hellcat, Marder Tank-killer, British Daimler Dingos, US M3 Halftrack, SdKfz 251 Ausf. C Halftrack, Wyllis Jeeps and Kubelwagen all owned by private collectors and members of the Northern World War 2 Association and Military Vehicles Trust were just some that could be seen on static display and in a drive by parade.
Many of the same vehicles also took part in the grand finale each day. A western front battle with TV quality pyrotechnics which pitted Germany’s Panzer Grenadier Division Großdeutschland, 21st Panzer Division and Infanterie Regiment 208 against the US 101st and British 6th Airborne, with the East Yorkshire Regiment. The end of scenario has Axis units prepare and launch a counter attack against advancing Allied forces, but the combined British/US Armour and infantry push them back with American tanks destroying the Germans fuel dump before finally over running the thier positions as the axis resistance collapses.
Below: The last stand of Großdeutschland. British 6th Airborne division accompanied by members of the French Resistance overrun and destroy one of Germany’s Elite units at the Ponderosa Heckmondwike.
Should this leave you wondering what the Ponderosa Wartime Weekend looked like from reenactors point of view here are a couple of shots
Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler” in command of the Eight man squad plus one “Kreigsberichter” of the Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland somewhere in NorthYorkshire
Point man “Stefan Kollers”
Above: From a gulley on the tree line Feldwebel “Otto Henning” looks for any unexpected movement as two of the squad move forward across open ground to the wreck of an old tank. Below: Having safely made it to cover Gefreiter “Hans Altmann” looks back as his comrade checks for enemy movement to the front, before calling up the rest of the men.
The remainder of the squad wait anxiously for the signal to make their way across the open ground and into cover.
Having made it into woodland without being ambushed the men of Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland take a breather. Above Right: Using an Esbit stove and German mess kit Gefreiter “Johann Rechenmacher” and other members of the patrol share a coffee while others (Above Left and Below) rest or chat quietly so as not to give their position away.
Below: The Großdeutschland squad anxiously wait for the return of point man “Stephan Kollers” who has been sent ahead to investigate gunfire.
Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler” orders his men into position as they advance on an “enemy position” that is already involved in a fire-fight with other elements of Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland, 21st Panzer Division and 1st Fallschirmjäger.
One Panzergrenadier attempts to work his way towards the strongpoint and find an effective firing position. Below: Feldwebel Otto Henning has already spotted one target.
While attempting to get around and flank the allied strong point, with Grenadiers “Stefan Kollers” and “Hans Muller”, our battle was cut short by fusillade of well placed rounds from element’s of Fox Commando Royal Navy and US 101 Airborne (below).
Above; The long walk back to the camp at the end of day one. Left to right: Fallschirmjäger from the NWW2A, Grenadier “Hans Muller”, Grenadier “Stefan Kollers” and Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler”
NWW2A consists of a number of different groups or“units” ranging from the US and British Airborne troops, French Resistance, British and Soviet infantry, German 21st Panzer Division, Infantry, Luftwaffe and Fallschirmjäger and the Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland. Moving away from front-lines units there’s the German Field Police, Deutches Rotes Kreuz , Ensa Moonlight Seranaders and 40’s Civilians & Home Front Auxiliaries.
Some of you may have noticed that I have an interest in most all things military, I also have an interest in the 1940’s, more specifically the second world war. This has led me to invest in a “new” camera, well new to me. Its actually a 38 year old Kiev range finder, a postwar Russian copy of the famed German Contax range finders which were introduced around 1933 and were once the main competitor for Leica.
I intended to buy one of these Russian Contax or Leica clones as a display piece but attempts to find a good looking non working display camera for under a fiver soon evolved into a little bit of a quest to find a reasonable working camera and preferably a Keiv. I wasn’t actually worried about the age of the camera but I did want it to work on 1940’s technology. Then thanks to eBay a Kiev 4, a Contax IIIa copy, arrived along with a very odd desire to put a roll of film through it.
I think I actually imagined I was going to stick a roll of film in this 1940s vintage piece of technology and instantly be able to use it just like my Nikon equipment. However to give you an idea of the differences between this camera and any modern digital SLR or compact I thought about writing a short list of what you don’t get with a Kiev but forget the list. If your camera has the word “auto, automatic, program, mode or electronic before one of its features take it as read the Kiev doesn’t have it. It does have a built in light meter but its not very reliable and you have to read it, work out the exposure settings then manually enter those settings on the camera. Its design requires the camera to be held in a specific way, known as the Contax hold, so the fingers of your right hand don’t block the range finder window and make focusing impossible.
To swap from my Nikon D700 to the all mechanical and manual Keiv for a couple of days was to say the least a culture shock. I am used to knowing my Nikons so well that I pick them up and work them, almost without thought, leaving me free to concentrate on creating images. With the Keiv I was forced into a much slower pre planned, less instant, pace of photography. Not just less instant in the sense you don’t get to see the result straight away but you suddenly realise you have to move the camera away from your eye to set the shutter speed and aperture then again to wind the film on. You are forced to think much more about the image you are about to shoot or want to shoot and makes the grab shot so much more valuable. It has also left me wondering how famed war photographer and Magnum founder member Robert Capa managed the images he did from a pair of Contax II cameras. Despite the totally different way of working forced on me when using the Kiev I think I may just be looking for a Zorki or Fed Leica copy now to sit alongside my Keiv or maybe Ill look for a Kiev clone of Capa’s Contax II.
I bought my partner Black Diamonds for Christmas. Not the ‘Black Star of Africa’ or ‘Table of Islam’ type, she isn’t that lucky because I’m not that rich, it’s one of the downsides of being a professional photographer. What I did buy her was the book “Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty” by Catherine Bailey. It tells the epic and stranger than fiction story of the Fitzwilliams, who claim descent from William the Conqueror and once owned what was, in fact still is, the largest privately owned house in Britain, Wentworth Woodhouse.
I have lived in South Yorkshire all my life, I have heard of the Fiztwilliams, Wentworth House and that there was something special about the place but as is often the case with things you grow up around I hadn’t really given it that much thought. Even when one of my first assignments as full-time professional press photographer was to cover the wedding of Wensley Haydon-Baillie, one time owner of Wentworth Woodhouse who married at Wentworth’s “new” Victorian Church with Prince Michael of Kent reportedly as his best man, I didn’t really think beyond that immediate story.
Above left: Former owner Wensley Haydon-Baillie and his new bride are congratulated by a local as they walk the footpath back to Wentworth Woodhouse from the Fitzwilliam family Church. Above right: Prince Michael of Kent attends Haydon-Baillie’s wedding in Wnentworth.
Below: Commissioned by the 6th Earl of Fitzwilliam in 1872 at a cost of around £25,000 in memory of his parents, with a spire of almost 200 feet tall Wentorth Church is visible for miles around. Dedicated to the Holy Trinity it was designed in Gothic revival style by leading Victorian church architect James Loughborough Pearson who later designed Truro Cathedral.
Wentworth Woodhouse, the size of the building is breathtaking. Built by Thomas Watson-Wentworth, 1st Marquess of Rockingham, added to by his heir, in the nineteenth century it was inherited and became the family seat of the Earls Fitzwilliam. It took a Scots Lass Born in Glasgow, who strangely enough can trace her ancestral linage back to one of William the Conqueror’s Noblemen to pique my interest in the place enough to try and capture the grandeur of its East façade. This is really the only shot that can be taken of the house as it is a privately owned house and not open to the public.
You really do have to stand in front of this Grade I listed country house in Wentworth, South Yorkshire to fully appreciate its size. The East Front, 606 feet (185 meters) long, it is the longest country house façade in Europe. With 365 rooms the house covers an area of over 2.5 acres (10,000 square Meters). Currently it is owned by a retired architect in his 80s called Clifford James Newbold who, if what I have read is to be believed….
Paid in excess of £1.5 Million pounds for Wentworth Woodhouse.
Paid £1.5 Million pounds for Wentorth Woodhouse
Moved from a “family sized home” in Highgate to Wentworth Woodhouse.
Lives there alone.
Is a recluse
planned to convert it into three homes for his family.
Is is progressing with a defined programme of renovation/restoration.
I’m only guessing here but I think its probably fair to say some of the things written about Mr Newbold may not be quite accurate.
What seems fairly certain is in 1998 he was Master of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London.
In May of 2010 the guild held three events
Thursday 13 May 2010 – Weekend Visit to Wentworth Woodhouse
Thursday 13 May 2010 – Reception & Gala Dinner – Wentworth Woodhouse
Friday 14 May 2010 – Day Visit to Wentworth Woodhouse
If Britannia Historical Attractions are to be believed when the house went up for sale for £1.5 Million pounds it would “require ten times that to restore” and “In Early May 1999, Wentworth Woodhouse was purchased for a figure substantially in excess of the guide of £1.5m”
While I haven’t seen them apparently Country Life Magazine published evidence of the restoration and renovations in issues dated 17 February and 24 February 2010.
Its seems as though some people are always willing to believe the worst, something borne by the graffiti on the sign at the entrance to Wentworth House. Surrounded by a 150 acre (0.6 km²) park the numerous “Private” and “Keep off the Grass” signs gave me the feeling that my presence was being suffered because it is a public right of way rather than welcomed. If like me the mysteriousness of Mr Clifford James Newbold has raised your curiosity levels a photograph of the present owner can be found here under the heading “Presentation to the Guild 27 February 2008”