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328. Salisbury Cathedral

09/10/2017

This last weekend saw us at Salisbury Cathedral to commemorate the end of the Battle of Passchendaele at the invitation of SSAFA, the oldest Forces’ charity.

As last year, we were there for two days in the company of a pop-up trench system, and joined this year by a replica WWI tank and an archaeologist specialising in WWI. And as last year, we were kept on our feet for the entire time, even though this year we were joined by Sue, who was as busy as Theo and I telling the story with barely a break for a bite of lunch.

On Friday we entertained countless parties of schoolchildren, all of whom seemed to be interested in what we had to say and enjoyed themselves.

On Saturday it was the turn of the general public, and they too thoroughly enjoyed the story we had to tell.

Colin Lee.jpg

Thank you to Colin Lee for this picture which gives a pretty good idea of the fabulous backdrop to the event and what it was like all weekend!

As always, we met any number of interesting people with their own interesting stories. Among them was a relative of Richard Bell-Davies, who won the VC with No. 2 Wing before Grandad joined it for rescuing a colleague who’d crash-landed on Ottoman territory. Bell-Davies landed alongside under Turkish fire and took off with his colleague stuffed into the unoccupied spare seat of his Nieuport 10. Bell-Davies would have been there with 1264 and it’s possible he may have flown her.

We also met William Verdon-Smith whose grandfather was a nephew of Sir George White (founder of the Bristol Aeroplane Company) and who was chairman of it from 1927 to 1955.

And later on in the day we met Mike Palmer who is a lifelong model engineer, and who, among many other achievements, has built a working 1/4 scale model of the Bentley BR2 rotary engine, a video of which you can see here. We are hoping to go and see the thing in the flesh at some point – it looks absolutely awesome!

We tried out an electric winch to get the fuselage in and out of the trailer and this was a great success, though I’d like to find a way of replacing the long battery cables between the mechanical switch and the winch motor with a remote system, and we’re hoping to rig up a pair of snatch blocks to allow us to use it to raise and lower the very heavy side doors.

On our way back a warning light came on the dashboard of the trusty Hilux to indicate the need to replace the timing belt as it passed 90,000 miles. This means I’ve done 70,000 miles in less than two years, much of which is in connection wit 1264, so I decided to have a look and see just how much we’ve done so far in 2017, and it’s a bit scary!

Starting in January I had a week with Theo working on the airframe. Since then between us we’ve done three flying displays, nine static displays, five talks and four other events. That’s a total of 21 events in total, varying in length from an evening to a week.

And we’re not finished yet…

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