I used the Fuji X-Pro1 60mm f2.4 at couple of 1940’s events over the last couple of weekends, Kelham Island Sheffield and East Park Hull. Probably the most challenging of things to shoot were the Spitfire/Hurricane Flypast at the Hull Veterans weekend. I intended to use my Nikon D700 with 80-200mm but was caught out after being told the flypast would be Sunday. It actually happened very late on Saturday. I only had time to flick to AFC and shoot fortunately the camera was set as described in my last post resulting in the aircraft images included below. The exposures were f11 1/350 or better all at ISO 400.
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.
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.
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
As a full-time professional Press and Public Relations photographer I tend not shoot many weddings, but sometimes the areas of News PR and Wedding photography do cross over like this wartime wedding. Andy Hacking and Kath Plummer who are both World War Two reenactors announced they would be getting married at Lytham during the Fylde Coast Wartime Weekend, and they would be doing it 1940 style. Uniforms, reproduction 1940 wedding dress, vintage armoured car to whisk away the bride and groom, right down to ration books at the reception and a little like the World War One Christmas of 1914 there was the slightly surreal sight of German and allied troops fraternising and forming a guard of honour for the happy couple.
Best man Dave straightens Groom Andy’s button hole before they move inside the church and greet some guest while awaiting the brides arrival.
Just like the 1940’s bride Kath arrives on foot, but that’s petrol rationing for you, then a brief nervous wait at the back of the church for the air raid warning to stop and the ceremony begins
After the marriage service and register signing the happy couple make their way back down the church aisle to the Dam Busters march, pose briefly for a picture at the church door then out for the official photographs.
Confetti, a sweep, a yank selling nylons, bridesmaids who know the drill, friends, family, a Guard of honour including German troops and the the 6th Airborne what more could a soldier and his bride want from a wedding?
How about a genuine 21st century press pack including local video news camera crew and a fist full press photographers!
Travelling in style
“Katie Katie give me your answer do………. “
“………For you look sweet upon the seat of Dingo made for two!”
Ration packs, ration books 1940 entertainment a world war two wartime-style wedding right through to the reception.
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.
Lytham held the first of what could turn out to be a very good annual event on the weekend of 21st and 22nd August 2010. The 1940s war weekend was a celebration to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and to help raise funds for a memorial to the members of the RAFs Fighter and Bomber Command which, when erected, will stand on Lytham Green where the event took place. The weekend which kicked of on Friday evening with a 1940s dance held in the park pavilion, included Re-enactors from The Northern World War Two Association who put on excellent living history displays and a battle re-enactment. There was also full size replica spitfire complete with aircrew waiting for the call to scramble, period military vehicles including a German Sd.Kfz. 251 Auf C half-track and a mini assault course for the kids. The period atmosphere was helped along by re-enactors from the North West Military Colletors group, live 1940s music and dancing all in period costume during the Saturday and Sunday bringing in crowds of sightseers. The whole weekend was topped by a flypast on the Saturday by a Dakota of the type that would have dropped allied paratroops into France on D-day and Arnhem later in the war. Sundays fly past was by the last Hurricane ever built, PZ865 was finished in summer 1944, there were 14,533 of them built throughout the war. She bares the inscription ‘The Last of the Many’ on her port and starboard sides.
There is also a video report here from the weekend from Blackpool TV
I’m just testing the water with this idea, trying to find multiple income streams seems to be the key to survival in todays photography business. So here is a small very niche market first attempt. Please take a look and tell me what you think…