Battle Of Britain Day

Today the wind has dropped to a mere 23 m.p.h. The good news is that there was minimal damage in the rose garden.

Today, Daphne and Ray Salinger share their 70th anniversary with Battle of Britain Day.

Yesterday the Isle of Wight County Press reported:

“BATTLE of Britain Day will be marked by a flypast that will include the Isle of Wight tomorrow (Tuesday).
September 15 is the 75th anniversary of the largest and fiercest attack by the German Luftwaffe over the skies of Southern England and London.
Around 1,500 aircraft took part in aerial battles, which raged throughout the day.
As evening arrived a group of German fast bombers were spotted off Cherbourg on their way to attack a Southampton Spitfire factory.
The Luftwaffe planes were later spotted over St Catherine’s and fighters from 607 and 609 Squadrons were sent to intercept.
The Germans made it to Southampton, but missed the Spitfire factory. However they dropped tonnes of bombs on the city, killing nine people and damaging the harbour and houses.
As they headed back past the Isle of Wight, close to the Needles, the British fighters engaged, shooting down four of the 20 bombers.
On Tuesday, World War Two fighters will again be in the skies over the Isle of Wight, thankfully in more peaceful circumstances.
A group of 40 Spitfire, Hurricanes and Blenheim light bombers are due to take part in flypasts, leaving from Goodwood Aerodrome in West Sussex.
They will be split into ten sections, before taking to the skies across Britain.
Two sections are due to fly over the south of the Island and their routes can be seen below.
The first section is due to leave at noon, with four minute gaps between subsequent sections.”
Screen shot 2015-09-13 at 12.41.43
In the event the weather caused some delay and there were route alterations.
Jackie drove us to Hordle Cliff West car park, where we arrived, shortly before noon,  to find it almost completely full. We sought no further confirmation that we had chosen the best vantage point from which to witness spitfires and hurricanes flying inland over The Needles. This car park usually belongs to the gulls at this time of the year.
Car Park
Car park and crowd
The people came in coaches, they came in cars, they came on bicycles, they came on foot, to witness the flypast, due at about 12.10.
News soon filtered through the crowds, informing us that take-off would be delayed by two hours because of the strong winds. There wasn’t much point in returning home for a while, because we would have lost our place.
Group preparing for spitfires
Possibly this gentleman is being advised that the gulls overhead are not planes.
Crowd waiting 1
We settled down for a wait during which I had a few chats with other would-be watchers and Jackie queued at the kiosk for an excellent choice of egg and bacon rolls, pasties and chips. We were fortunate to be so early, for a couple of hours later the queue stretched to the cliff edge. Clearly the woman in charge made a killing today, but she was managing alone because her husband was ill. Nevertheless she would acknowledge that it is an ill wind that blows nobody good.
Some people wandered off in search of other eating places. Others, like me, struck up conversations with strangers. One gentleman did a little dance on the clifftop, alarming everyone when he tripped over his own feet.
As the latest expected time of arrival drew near, we all fixed our eyes on The Needles, that row of rocks to the West of the Isle of Wight, over which the historic planes were to thread their way.
Had Jackie not been looking in the other direction, and alerted me, I would have been one of the disappointed multitude who missed the sight. The planes flew over the centre of the island, and aimed for Southampton. The itinerary had changed at the request of that city because of their association with Spitfires.
Spitfires 1
Spitfires 2Spitfires 3
 Spitfires 4Spitfires 5I managed to photograph eight specks gliding silently across the sky. I cropped and enlarged the first picture. The clouds behind the planes can be located again in the next shot, indicating the progression across the skies. Clicking on the images may make this easier to discern. One woman, returning to her car, exclaimed ‘Well, that was a damp squib’. ‘No imagination’, I thought.
Given that I was born in 1943, had there been a different outcome to the airborne battle, I may very well never have existed.
There was plenty of food left over from the Spice of India takeaway we enjoyed two days ago for tonight’s dinner. My accompaniment was the last of the Cuvée St Jainé; Jackie’s was Hoegaarden.


  1. A great day’s outing! And I do hope that Daphne and Ray, 75 years ago, didn’t take Churchill to heart when he said: “I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin.”

  2. “One woman, returning to her car, exclaimed ‘Well, that was a damp squib’. ‘No imagination’, I thought.”

    People are imprisoned by their own lack of vision – it’s as if the world has to perform while they idle like Romans during the ‘fall’ toying with grapes as gladiators gore each other to death. I completely understand why you wrote about this.

    1. Thanks, Matt. There was something very special about those planes smoothly gliding along instead of ducking and diving all over the place. As Cynthia implies, the poor woman couldn’t see it.

  3. damp squib, lol. Never heard that phrase but I like it .. when its applicable of course, and not sour grapes. Sounds fun… waiting on a beautiful day with invested strangers and feeling thankful to be alive.

  4. Well, a lot of good those ‘tonnes of bombs’ did – yet that’s still the preferred way of warring today. I wish I have shares in them (no I don’t).

  5. A wonderful commemoration which I watched from the comfort of my armchair last night! Prince Harry did a grand job chatting away to the presenter, obviously disappointed that he didn’t get to fly but none the less showed us what an asset to the Royal family he is. And to see Tom Neal at 95, one of ‘the few’ enjoying his flight and recounting his memories was wonderful. That woman should have stayed at home…she has no idea.

  6. “Well, that was a damp squib” 🙂 She may not have had much imagination, but she did give me a new line. I don’t know how to express myself, but I like the way the people gathered there look. Older people have such stories to tell.

  7. Would have liked to have been there myself, I always enjoyed the old war movies with Spitfires etc. Even the sound of the Merlin engines would have been worth it. Took my kids to see a replica of one this summer, I might just throw it as a post now that you have put it in my mind. Cheers Derrick.

  8. You always seem to have bluer skies than we do! As for damp squibs – I could write for hours on that. I was brought up on Biggles and I can’t even hear the word “Spitfire” without being transported to a different place…

  9. I cannot truly imagine the WWII experience and the damage…Impressive, humungous clouds with the planes. The humor that yet sneaks in is a delight. Thanks for your take on your spot. (You live on Isle of Wight…? I cannot picture where that just is so will look it up in an atlas–that dates me!)

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