A Merry Christmas to all!

As the year draws to close and we spend time with our loved ones, I would like to just wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful new year.

Another year has passed and looking back, we realise how quickly time passes. I am amazed how my own blog has gone from strength to strength, how my own writing has developed, from early posts that were merely a couple of paragraphs to more recent ones that are 2-3000 words long – a big change for me! I must admit I have a slight cringe when I read some of those early posts; as time has gone on I have started to revisit them (and the places they are about) and make some updates.

I would like to take time to thank each and every one of you who has read, commented and stayed with me during this journey, it has certainly been an experience I don’t want to forget.

This year, the blog surpassed 21,000 visitors and 50,000 views whilst not huge in comparison to some, it is certainly far more than I ever thought it would, and I appreciate each and every one.

Some notable posts/events you may have missed:

Hearbreak on Christmas Eve – the sad loss of Brigadier General  Frederick W. Castle (posted December 2015), whose awarding of the Medal of Honour, reflected the determination and personality of one of Eakers “Original Seven”. He chose to leave a safe position for a combat role, taking on the demoralised 94th, leading them into some of the Second World War’s most ferocious air battles.

The Last Word to Guy Gibson – also posted last year, a poignant word written in Gibson’s book.

In October 2015 we saw the end of an era, with the grounding of Avro Vulcan XH558. After an eight year reign as Queen of the skies, she finally bowed out after the three main technical companies that support her, withdrew their support. In her last flight on October 28th 2015, she completed a short 15 minute flight, the culmination of 228 flights and 346 hours flying time. A landmark in British Aviation history.

A number of British airfields were earmarked for development or planning applications, amongst them are the former: RAF Kings Cliffe, RAF Downham Market, RAF West Raynham, RAF Denethorpe and RAF Coltishall, with further applications affecting former RAF Dunsfold, RAF Bourn and RAF Wellesbourne Mountford. So what does the future hold for Britain’s airfields?

Early 2016, Aviation Trails was nominated for the Liebster Award by The Aviation Site and I was honoured to accept this award and in November it was nominated by Historypresent for a further writing accolade. Sadly this slipped off the list, but I would like to offer my sincere thanks for this very kind nomination.

With the total number of Trails standing at almost 40, I have visited what must be over 100 airfields; in addition a large number of memorials, and many great museums, and there are still many, many more of each to get to.

The interactive map has been useful to many readers outside of Britain hoping to find places where loved ones served, and a few people have contacted me which has hopefully helped trace some information thus filing in some gaps.

All in all it has been a marvellous year for AviationTrails, I wish to pass on my gratitude and thanks to each and every one of you.

So without further ado, a very Merry Christmas to everyone and a peaceful and safe New Year!

Andy

The Last Word to Guy Gibson

I’ve just finished reading “Enemy Coast Ahead”, written by Guy Gibson VC DSO DFC, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the man or the missions.

At the end, there is a very poignant comment made by Gibson following the Dams raid when the remaining eight of the original sixteen aircraft were returning home to Scampton. It made me think, and at this festive time, I leave you with his words which are abundant with significance. One related quotation, quite often attributed to Winston Churchill, but first used by George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, reflect  in Gibson’s own words. 

“Why must we make war every twenty-five years? Why must men fight? How can we stop it? Can we make countries live normal lives in a peaceful way?” But no one knows the answer to that one. 

The answer may lie in being strong. A powerful, strategic bomber force based so that it would control the vital waterways of the world, could prevent and strangle the aggressor from the word ‘Go’. But it rests with the people themselves; for it is the people who forget. After many years they will probably slip and ask for disarmament so that they can do away with taxes and raise their standard of living. If the people forget, they bring wars on themselves, and they can blame no one but themselves.

 Yes, the decent people of this world would have to remember war. movies and radio records should remind this and the future generations of what happened between 1936 and 1942. It should be possible to keep this danger in everyone’s mind so that we can never be caught on the wrong foot again. So that our children will have a chance to live. After all, that is why we are born. We aren’t born to die.

A sincere thanks to everyone who has followed Aviation Trails. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very peaceful New Year.

Andy

 

“Enemy Coast Ahead”, Guy Gibson, Published by Goodall Paperback from Crecy Publishing, 1986 ISBN 9780907579625