97 Squadron, Historic, History, World War 2

some pictures of Just Jane

97 Squadron, Historic, History, World War 2

97 Squadron, Thorpe Camp and the International Bomber Command Centre

On Saturday I had the emmense pleasure to meet and spend the day with veterans from 97 squadron, the RAF Path Finders Squadron. From the visit to Thorpe Camp to the AGM and Meal it was full of insights and wit. Please do take a minute to visit the links in this piece as the sites they support need your help to continue and are great causes close to my heart.

As I have mentioned before I have been researching my friends Uncle Tom who was a bomb aimer with 97 Squadron in 1943/44 and flew with Charles B Owen’s crew. (I was told by Jim Wright that you were known by who your pilot was not your own name). And I have previously posted the picture of his bomb aimer brevet though I don’t think he ever wore them as he is pictured wearing his original Observer brevet which I was told again by Jim was called a flying arsehole! And with pride too he also chuckled when he said the Americans wanted to know when would he get his other wing? Apparently the Americans have two wings for their flyers I never knew that!

So it was lovely to meet Tony the Chairman of the 97 Squadron Association and his wife Jo. Jo’s dad sadly died whilst on his 28th sortie and I hope I can add more about that here at a later date. who introduced me to Ernie Groeger who was with both 97 & 617! He is a wonderful man and eage to share his experience including the signature he put on the ceiling of the Blue Bell Inn in 1942! 


And how he built Thorpe Camp which is a brilliant Meuseum that has an area dedicated to 97 Squadron displaying pictures and stories of the men and machines of the squadron and the most precious item of all the book of rememberence for the fallen. It is dedicated to Ann Savage who was the secretary and I am told most loved person in 97 squadron Association and mother to Gail who made me feel so welcome even though I pestered her for days on email for information about the visit.

The day moved from Thorpe Camp and the Blue Bell Inn to the AGM and meal at the Admiral Rodney. Where the guest speaker Air Vice Marshall Paul Robinson came to talk about the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln and please check the webpage link as the site has so much information I couldn’t do justice to here and the absolute need for the completion of this monument to all those who lost their lives in Bomber Command.  But of the 125,000 Aircrew of bomber command 55,573 were killed! 

I learnt another fact and again please get behind this campaign too is that the Aircrew of bomber command are passionate about the fact that they never got a campaign medal as did the other armed forces at the end of the war or since. They sacrificed so much and feel betrayed by this act. We need to right this wrong and also put to rest some of the myths about bomber command. 

I will finish this for now with the pictures of the 97 Squadron memorial at Thorpe Camp and the links to the sites mentioned.



Thorpe Camp

International Bomber Command Centre
97 Squadron Association

The Blue Bell Inn

Bats, Derbyshire, Wildlife

My first swarming survey and other firsts

last night I was part of Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group (DBCG) swarming survey in a cave in Derbyshire. That was not my first for the evening. I have been working with bats now for nearly a year so I still have to meet all of our British Bats. I have to date seen the following:

  • Common Pipistrelle
  • Soprano Pipistrelle 
  • Brandts
  • Whiskered
  • Daubentons
  • Noctule
  • Leislers

But this is not all of them and I know that in Derbyshire we don’t get all of the UK’s bats but I was hoping to meet more of them.

So the idea was to set 3 harp traps and check them every 20 minutes and these were put just beyond the cave mouth. So the plan was to sit and wait, and wait until our 10:20 pm check when we got our first bats, Daubentons or Dawbie for short. Then my first new bat…….. A Natterers bat and what a lovely bat it has a great face and is quite a large bat, certainly bigger than a Pipistrelle. I tried to get a picture of it but it’s hard to take photos at night on an iPhone with a wiggly bat. So my next challenge will be to get a good photo of the Natterers. I must say that the Natterers has become my favourite bat it is a proper looking bat.


I am learning to notice the difference between the Whiskered and Brandts, they are so alike it really is hard to tell them apart but it can be done. More later when I get it right but it does come down to teeth and penis!

And then the bat I have been waiting to see I have heard it it a beauty and most see. The Brown Long Eared bat or BLE. Wow it has big ears! Which they fold into a Rams horn type pattern on the side of their head and the Tragus can be mistaken for its ears. I did get a good picture of him though as can be seen below


Granted it is cute but don’t you think it’s a bit too showy? Nope I think the Natterers is favourite 🙂

So I have now ticked 2 more bats off my list and learnt more about Brandts/Whiskered and it really was fun staying out till 4am! But without doing these surveys we will never find out how bats live we know so little about them when compared to other animals. 

Bats, Derbyshire, Wildlife

Bat released! Yippee 

well an update on the bat that came in that was grounded and is the one in the post below and was named Bill D Bat as Cory thought “comm pip bat 1″ was a useless name, he got released yeah!

It took longer to care for him than I was planning but he went at his own pace nearly a month! He was also the star of a bat walk and talk night where we showed there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to bats. Cory and I took him back to where he was found last Friday night as we prepared to let him go we cranked on the bat detector and picked up a couple of pips transiting over the car park  towards a body of water over which they seemed to be feeding. We got Bill D Bat out of the carry case and he started to echo locate straight away and after a few moments stretching he flew. He circled us a couple of times and we picked up his feeding buzz meaning he he could feed himself and within 2 minutes he was flying around the Car park opposite then as more bats transited over us he turned away from the car park and joined the others.

So a few pictures and lessons I have learnt from my first bat care patient. 

1. Pips don’t need to be fed till they stop…… They won’t stop the little piggies” 14 mealworms a night is bad! The advice as I heard was feed them what they will eat but didn’t know that it meant between 5-8 of them, and an obese bat won’t fly though it bounced well when it tried to fly. Only kidding.

2. They love to be clean and he spent a fair amount of time grooming and before he was released he would stretch his wings as in the photo below which then made me think I need an area for him to fly besides the bathroom.

3. Indoor flying tent that Cory found! It is light-weight and can be hung from the ceiling on a cup holder hook! Allowing the bat to excesize without the need of me being there and in the dark. It is in fact a British army cot mosquito net and it works a treat. Loads of room for most bats I think and it is machine washable.

4. Patience is the key and the hard work pays off.

Bye Bill good look and on to the next bat. So this week we had 2 calls to grounded bats the first the finder was happy to feed and release that night and sadly the one last night died from its injuries it looks like it could have been a cat attack. Cats are a big hunter of bats but they only seem to play with them. More info on bats can be found at the bat conservation trust or for more local info (well to Derbyshire) try the DBCG


Voices and Voicing in the Scottish Revolution, 1637-51

the many-headed monster

Our next post in ‘The Voices of the People’ symposium (full programme here) is by Laura A.M. Stewart, Senior Lecturer in Early Modern British History at Birkbeck, University of London. As they have done in our previous three posts, issues of power and the authority to speak continue to loom large, but our next two posts show a different aspect of that relationship – highlighting contexts in which the voices of ordinary people in the early modern period could, in albeit heavily circumscribed contexts, be accorded a degree of value and legitimacy.

Laura A.M. Stewart 

In the spring of 1639, Scotland was facing an invading foreign army for the first time in eight decades. During the previous year, thousands of Scottish people had covenanted with one another and with God in defence of religion, kingdom, and king. This event had persuaded the government in London…

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Women’s Work in Rural England, 1500-1700

the many-headed monster

Mark Hailwood

bruegel hay makersMany ‘monster readers will have already deduced that I recently started a new job. So I thought it would be a nice idea to write a very short post introducing the project that I’m now working on. It is based at the University of Exeter, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, and will run until the summer of 2018. The leader of the project is Professor Jane Whittle and I will be the main researcher. Our aim is to gather an unprecedented level of information about the everyday working lives of early modern English women by extracting incidental information about work activities from witness statements given in court cases (and a few other types of record too). We hope that this innovative methodology will help us to capture aspects of women’s work – for instance domestic and other types of unpaid work – that more conventional history of work…

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Time for bats

so I have been really busy at work and not had much time to write and with the bat season really kicking in it’s been evenings of Bat Walks, Trapping surveys, and now a couple of bat rescues. The first rescue was to a common pipistrelle that had been attacked by a cat. This bat had been very damaged and sadly had to be taken to the vets as it was in a very poor state. The second bat was to a male common pipistrelle that was grounded in a factory doorway. It was very dehydrated and hungry and would not fly. I have fed him up on mealworms and he is getting stronger by the day. He is starting to excersize his wings last night and is really eating well. I am hoping he is flying by the weekend and that he can then be released where he was found.