Q&A with Battle of Britain veteran Group Captain Sir Hugh “Cocky” Dundas

In the second of the RAF Centre for Air Power Studies rarely-seen before historic ‘leadership’ themed videos, Battle of Britain legend Group Captain Sir Hugh ‘Cocky’ Dundas CBE DSO* DFC presents his thoughts on ‘Leadership in War’ followed by an informal question and answer session at an after-dinner speech given circa 1991 at the RAF Staff College, Bracknell.

Group Captain Sir Hugh Dundas joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force as an acting-pilot officer in 1938 before being called up to active service upon the outbreak of the Second World War. Initially he served on 616 Squadron flying Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Is during the Battle of Britain fighting ‘hard and fiercely’ throughout. He went on to serve as a squadron commander and then subsequently as wing leader and had, by 1944, become one of the youngest Group Captains in the RAF at the age of just 24. In combat against the enemy he is credited with four aircraft destroyed while having shared in the destruction of another six as well as two probables.

He left the RAF in 1947 to pursue a successful career in the media. He has also published an autobiography, Flying Start: A Fighter Pilot’s War Years, describing his wartime experiences in great detail. In 1969 he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Surrey and in 1989 High Sheriff. Dundas married Enid Rosamond Lawrence in 1950 and together they had a son and two daughters.

Sir Hugh Dundas passed away on July 10th 1995.

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Llandudno Home Front Museum

The Llandudno Home Front Museum aims to allow the people of today the chance to experience the sights and sounds of civilian life during the second world war.

All photos kindly donated to Defence of the Realm by Hayley Butler.

If you would like to visit the museum you can view their own website by clicking here.


For more images of British military equipment and museums please visit the Galleries section or follow Defence of the Realm on Instagram

If you have photographs or articles you wish to contribute to Defence of the Realm than you can email them to defencerealmyt@gmail.com. If successful you will of course be given full credit for your contribution and can even promote your own website/blog/social media account.

September 23rd 1938 – British Anti-Aircraft Units Mobilise During Munich Crisis

On September 22nd 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with the leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler to discuss the issue of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. After the political map of Europe was redrawn following World War I, many ethnic German speakers found themselves living in Czechoslovakia and Hitler had vowed to return them to the Fatherland. Chamberlain had agreed to allow Germany to annex the Sudetenland but Hitler made demands that he wanted to seize Czechoslovakia completely.

Naturally, Czechoslovakia was opposed to this as were most European powers and began to mobilise for war. As the situation deteriorated, Britain began making preparations for war and on September 23rd 1938 the anti-aircraft units of the Territorial Army were activated.

Among the units mobilised were;

  • 26th Anti-Aircraft Brigade protecting London with just 41 AA guns
  • 35th Anti-Aircraft Brigade protecting the important naval base at Portsmouth
  • 42nd Anti-Aircraft Brigade protecting Glasgow
  • 43rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade protecting Teeside
  • 54th Anti-Aircraft Brigade protecting towns and cities in the West Midlands

Many of these units found themselves armed with little more than World War I Lewis machine guns until heavier weapons could be distributed to them.

The crisis was eventually resolved as far as Britain was concerned with the Munich Agreement  and Czechoslovakia was informed by Britain and France that it could either resist Nazi Germany alone or submit to Hitler’s will. The Czechoslovak government could not hope to fight the Nazis alone and reluctantly agreed although they felt betrayed by Britain and France.

On September 30th 1938, Chamberlain returned to Britain and gave one of history’s most notorious speeches proclaiming “peace in our time” however the Territorial Army anti-aircraft units would remain mobilised right up until the following September when peace was finally shattered in dramatic fashion.

Baston in the Blitz 2015 Gallery

A collection of images taken at the Baston in the Blitz 2015 military show. All images were taken on August 1st 2015 and donated to Defence of the Realm by Andy Laing. If you would like to see more of his extensive military themed galleries then you can view and follow his Flickr account by clicking here.

Andy Laing writes extensively about the history of some of England’s air bases on his site Aviationtrails. If you have an interest in British and also American aviation history in the UK then I highly recommend you visit his site.


 

For more images of British military equipment and museums please visit the Galleries section or follow Defence of the Realm on Instagram

If you have photographs or articles you wish to contribute to Defence of the Realm than you can email them to defencerealmyt@gmail.com. If successful you will of course be given full credit for your contribution and can even promote your own website/blog/social media account.

International Bomber Command Centre hit by theives

The site based on Canwick Hill in Lincoln – historically known as “Bomber county” for its link with RAF Bomber Command – was broken in to on Sunday night. The thieves made off with two electric generators and stock totalling around £2,000 that was set aside for an open day that was scheduled to take place on March 19th. Not content with their stolen items, the thieves also shredded a wreath left at the base of the memorial spire.

IBCC Director Nicky Barr told The Lincolnite newspaper;

The team based on the site have been left with no heating, lighting, hot water, drinks or food as a result of the incident.

The International Bomber Command Centre  is still under construction but aims to provide a world-class facility to serve as a focal point for recognition, remembrance and reconciliation for Bomber Command veterans and their families as well as the general public. The project includes recording, preserving and relating the stories of over one million men from all over the world who served with Bomber Command during the World War II.

Inspector Marc Gee, Community Inspector for North Kesteven, said;

This is a despicable crime which shows a total lack of respect for the community and the memory of those who bravely served our country during the war. If you have any information in relation to this crime please get in contact with Lincolnshire Police so that we can bring those responsible to justice.

“Dunkirk” Trailer 

This week saw the release of the first trailer for director Christopher Nolan’s movie based on the Dunkirk evacuation. While the trailer doesn’t reveal too much it does give a sense that it will be a high quality film.

Take a look for yourself.

It isn’t the first movie to be made specifically about the evacuation. A 1958 movie starring Richard Attenborough and John Mills also faithfully tells the story of this remarkable chapter of history so if you can’t wait for the new movie then seek that out. You won’t be disappointed.

A Request For Information

LMF Hampden

Hello everybody,

I was recently asked to help research the details surrounding the death of a reader’s grandparent lost during World War II while flying operationally. The operation in question concerns No.455 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force attached to RAF Coastal Command flying Hampden TB.Is and took place on January 11th 1943.

The information I have is as follows;

  • The attack involved 12 aircraft which took off from RAF Leuchars at 1556hrs.
  • Their target was enemy shipping off the Norwegian coast.
  • All 12 aircraft returned to the UK but one aircraft, Hampden AD792/UB-P, crashed in the Scottish highlands attempting to return to base.
  • Two of the crew (Flying Officer P J Hill 122499 RAF and Pilot Officer WJ Rees 123457 RAF) were killed instantly. One (Sergeant R A Smithers 411656 RAAF) died a week later from his injuries. The last crewmember,  Sergeant R K Spohn 412208 RAAF, survived and died in 1995.

What I am looking for are details of the mission itself – location of the enemy ships, details of the attack such as were any of the vessels hit/sunk and anything else of importance. Additionally, I would like any details regarding the crash. As far as I can determine on my own the crash would appear to have been an accident but I need to know if this was entirely the case e.g. was the aircraft damaged by enemy action or was the weather poor since it was early January?

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. You can either comment below or if you prefer you can email me at defenceoftherealm@gmail.com

Thank you in advance

Tony Wilkins