Tag Archives: Battle of Britain

Coastal Dawn: New book features Bajan RAF ace Aubrey Richard de Lisle Inniss

‘Coastal Dawn’ also includes Battle of Britain Jamaican Pilot Officer Herbert Capstick

by Andy Bird, author ‘Coastal Dawn’

Dear Barbados Free Press,

Pilot Officer Aubrey ‘Sinbad’ Inniss – of No 236 Squadron in 1940 will feature in a forthcoming book entitled “Coastal Dawn” to be published this July 2012, by Grub Street Publishing, London.

“Coastal Dawn” will also feature the only Jamaican to take part in the Battle of Britain, Pilot Officer Herbert Capstick also flying with No 236 Squadron.

From Amazon.com booksite

In 1940, the defence of Great Britain rested with a handful of volunteer aircrew, Churchill’s ‘few’. Overshadowed in later folklore by the more famous Spitfire and Hurricane pilots, there were other pilots, observers and air gunners – just as courageous – flying the Bristol Blenheim MKIV-F. The future of the country and arguably that of the free world depended also on their skill, morale and sacrifice. Remarkably little has been chronicled of these men and their aircraft – the ‘Trade Protection’ squadrons formed by Hugh Dowding – allotted to 11 Group in October 1939. The aircraft’s range and endurance made it suitable for defence of coastal shipping against attack on the southern and eastern shores of Britain, and for operations further afield. Indeed during bitter fighting casualties among Numbers 235, 236, 248 and 254 Squadron Blenheims were high on operations over Norway, Holland, France, Dunkirk and then the Battle of Britain where the Blenheims were completely outclassed by Messerschmitt 109 and 110 fighters and fell easy victims, scythed from the sky. But the record of the aircraft and their crew was an immensely proud one. Drawing on contemporary diaries, periodicals, letters, logbooks, memoirs and interviews with survivors, lauded historian Andy Bird reassesses the vital role they played and repositions it in history. In doing so, he justifiably embraces the heroes we have left behind.

About the Author,  Andrew D. Bird

Born in Berkshire, England in 1962 , like many of his friends, Andrew had only one ambition during his school years, and that was to fly fast jets with the Air Force. At the age of 13 he was enrolled into the Air Cadets during which time he became friends with MRAF Sir Arthur ‘Bert’ Harris C-in-C RAF Bomber Command 1942-1945, leaving the Air Cadets in 1980. Andrew then served with the TAVR before joining the RAF Regiment. Andrew is an aviation artist as well, exhibiting his work at the Guild of Aviation Exhibition, London, his work has been shown in galleries in London, the Home Counties, and Toronto, Canada.

His first book ‘A Separate Little War’ reached the number three position in The Top Ten Best Sellers List in 2003 (Glasgow Herald & Daily Mail Weekend Magazine) it was reprinted twice in hardback. The author up-dated ‘A Separate Little War’ for the paperback edition 2008.

Further Reading

BFP: Battle of Britain 70th anniversary – Remembering Bajan RAF ace Aubrey Richard de Lisle Inniss

Blenheim Mk IV photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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Filed under Aviation, Barbados, History, Military

Jim Bailey: Battle of Britain fighter pilot and anti-apartheid warrior

(click photo for large)

The wondrous life of James R. A. Bailey, DFC – founder of DRUM Magazine, South Africa

Anybody who has spent any time at all in South Africa knows DRUM Magazine, a publication that has had its ups and downs in the past six decades but was always on the front line of the struggle for freedom. Since I spent some time in Jo’burg in the early 1990’s, DRUM has turned into more of a black urban lifestyle publication but there was a time when the tabloid told stories that no one else could without getting banned.

What I didn’t know before now, and only just discovered this past week, is that DRUM was started and financed for decades by a white ex-Royal Air Force fighter pilot named Jim Bailey. To my great delight an old friend presented me with a birthday gift of Bailey’s wartime biography The Sky Suspended – A fighter pilot’s story. That led me to looking up the author online and there I found the story of Jim Bailey and DRUM. Isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing?

As near as I can discern from the online stories, Bailey poured much of his inherited wealth into starting DRUM as a “black” publication in 1950. It was a true tabloid with girls, crime and violence to keep the readers titillated and the numbers up but it developed a reputation for coming right up to and crossing the line about freedom issues. I think BFP’s readers will understand our appreciation of that marketing philosophy. 🙂

When the police beat Steve Biko to death in 1977, DRUM showed the activist in his coffin. When Desmond Tutu wanted to tell the people why he met with the South African apartheid government, he did so in the pages of DRUM. When the bodies piled up on the streets in the townships, DRUM showed them beside the photos of the white police who shot them down. These were dangerous stories to cover, but DRUM did so and made a difference.

Jim Bailey died in early 2000 but he left a legacy of books and poetry that I’ve yet to read. I’m only 40 pages into The Sky Suspended, but other than writing this post I doubt I’ll do any work for the next few days until I finish the book.

Later this week I’ll put up a few more posts on Bailey and his role in Sooth Africa at the time, but for now here’s what he says about what it takes to be a fighter pilot…

It became a study of mine, one I pursued meticulously at this time, to discover what type of man makes the best fighter-pilot. I found, for example, that only children, pilots without brothers or sisters, were particularly helpless. When a new pilot came to us, I would try to guess after a day or two whether he came from a large family or not and then go and ask him. If he did, he had a better chance to survive.

Good pilots are common, good fighter-pilots were rare. It is as with polo: many can ride, but few play polo well; and among those who play well, many ride in a crude and efficient way, without good hands or precision. I arrived at a few conclusions. The qualities that made for success in a fighter-pilot seemed to be just those sturdy qualities that made for success in other professions; observation, initiative, determination, courage, including the courage to run away.

Battle of Britain veteran Jim Bailey on what makes a great fighter pilot

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Filed under Africa, Aviation, Culture & Race Issues, History, Human Rights, Military, Race

Battle of Britain 70th anniversary – Remembering Bajan RAF ace Aubrey Richard de Lisle Inniss

Remembrance Day stories

Aubrey Inniss from Barbados was one of “The Few”

“Air Ministry, 9th July, 1943.
ROYAL AIR FORCE. ,
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards: —
Distinguished Flying Cross.

Flight Lieutenant Aubrey Richard de Lisle INNISS (42005), No. 248 Squadron…for gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations.”

Seventy years ago today on August 20, 1940 at 3:52pm, Winston Churchill rose in British Parliament and delivered his famous tribute to the Royal Air Force pilots who kept the Nazi wolves at bay. The same speech was delivered again today in London, and we remember a Bajan RAF pilot who was one of “The Few” Continue reading

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Filed under Aviation, Barbados, History