HANDLEY PAGE HALIFAX - PART 2
The following are answers and explanations to the trivia quiz in your Halifax kit. These explanations are taken from various sources and summarized to the best of our knowledge. We hope you had fun with our 50 question trivia challenge!
RAF Elvington operated from the beginning of the Second World War until 1992. It is located near York, England.
It was originally a grass airfield for No. 4 Group. In the early 1940s the airfield was entirely reconstructed with three hardened runways replacing the grass.
It re-opened in October 1942 as a base for its first operational squadron, No. 77. This squadron initially comprised of about 20 twin-engined Armstrong Whitworth Whitley medium bombers. These bombers were soon replaced by Handley Page Halifax four-engined heavy bombers. No 77 Squadron suffered heavy losses, with over 500 aircrew killed, missing or taken imprisoner. Approximately 80 Halifaxes were lost as it played a major role in the Battle of the Ruhr and the bombing of Berlin.
In May 1944 No 77 Squadron was relocated to the newly opened nearby RAF Full Sutton. They were replaced at RAF Elvington by two French squadrons, numbers 346 "Guyenne" and 347 "Tunisie" who served with No.4 Group till the end of the war.
On 4th February 1927, Malcolm Campbell set the World Land Speed Record at Pendine Sands, South Wales, at 174.224 m.p.h. in his Napier-Campbell Blue Bird.
On 3rd October 1970, Tony Densham, driving the Ford-powered "Commuter" dragster set a new World Land Speed Record at Elvington, averaging 207.6 m.p.h. breaking Campbell's record of 43 years.
Non Wheel-driven Record Venue
In mid-1998, Colin Fallows bettered Richard Noble's UK Speed Record (248mph) in his "Vampire" jet dragster at an average speed of 269 mph (433 km/h) at Elvington. He broke the record again holding the outright UK land speed record, on July 5, 2000 at an average speed of 300.3 mph (483.3 km/h) with a peak of 329 mph again at Elvington.
On 7 July 2006, Colin Fallows raised the speed to 301 mph at RAF Fairford in his Vampire. At the same event, Mark Newby drove his jet car ‘Split Second’ to an MSA/FIA accredited average speed of 338.74 mph with a peak of 362 mph, the fastest speed ever recorded in the UK. The car was unable to make a return run so the one-way record remains an unofficial one.
After the war the airfield was transferred to No 40 Group under the control of Maintenance Command until 1952. It was then extended and developed by the United States Air Force to become one of the largest airfields in northern England as a "Basic Operation Platform" operated as a Strategic Air Command dispersal base. However, the airfield never became operational and was abandoned by the US Air Force in 1958.
Training & Test Flights
In the early 1960s the Blackburn Aircraft Company, now part of British Aerospace used the runway for test flights of the Blackburn Buccaneer. Elvington retained its status as an RAF relief landing ground and was used by the RAF flying training schools at RAF Church Fenton and RAF Linton-on-Ouse until the airfield was finally closed in March 1992.
A motor race circuit was established in the early 1960’s. It only hosted two car race meetings on 8 July 1962 and 7 July 1963. From the late 1960’s Elvington’s became a venue for local and national motorcycle racing attracting hundreds of riders, including Mick Grant and Barry Sheene. The Auto 66 Club continues to organise meetings at Elvington to this day.
The airfield is now owned by Elvington Park Ltd. The adjacent buildings and control tower have been restored, and serve as the Yorkshire Air Museum that exhibits various rare planes and vehicles, including a complete Halifax bomber. Elvington is also a popular motorsports venue for motorcycle racing.
On 20 September 2006, ex-Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond reached a peak speed of 314 mph (505 km/h) whilst being taught to drive the Vampire jet car at Elvington. It was higher than the official British land speed record.
However, he did not officially break the British record as, according to the rules, two runs in different directions and an independent observer are required. Hammond crashed on his seventh run. Jeremy Clarkson later said in a joking manner, Hammond would have created the record for the fastest crash but would have needed to repeat the crash in the opposite direction.
In October 1942, RAF 77 Squadron became the first unit to occupy the newly-built airbase at RAF Elvington. The squadron, which began intensive training on the Handley Page Halifax heavy bomber, consisted of about 1,800 aircrew regulars and volunteers from all the allied nations, and was supported by hundreds of ground crew and technical staff, both men and women.
The village of Elvington was completely taken over with hundreds of specially-built living quarters for the men (and for a small number of women in the WAAF), offices, ammunition stores, a briefing room, garages, a gym and a hospital. There are still remains of the buildings to be seen in the fields around the village to this day. The airfield was surrounded by hangars and dispersal bays for the aircraft.
The airfield and the squadron became fully operational the following January, 1943, in time for the most intense period of the bombing offensive against Germany. The squadron, like other bomber squadrons, suffered heavy losses: 72 aircraft were lost during this period, and 529 aircrew were either killed or taken prisoner of war.
In May 1944 the squadron moved to Full Sutton airfield to continue the offensive until the end of the war when it transferred to Transport Command dropping supplies in India and ferrying back prisoners of war.
By the end of the war the squadron had lost a total 890 killed in action and four killed while prisoners of war. Despite this enormous sacrifice, the squadron - which was disbanded in 1963, with no surviving RAF links - somehow became the ‘forgotten squadron’. However, Squadron 77 is now remembered through a history room located at its old base at Elvington air museum, along with an Association’s website: 77squadron.org.uk
RAF No.158 Squadron was first formed on 9th May 1918. The squadron was originally planned to be equipped with Sopwith Snipe fighters, but this was postponed. The squadron eventually reformed at Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire on 4 September 1918 and was equipped with Sopwith Salamander ground attack aircraft. The squadron arrived too late to see action during WWI and disbanded on 20 November 1918.
The rebirth of the Squadron occurred on 14 February 1942 at Driffield in, East Riding, Yorkshire. RAF Drifford was the home of No.104 Squadron which was renumbered to become No.158 Squadron.
The Squadron Badge was granted under the Authority of His Majesty King George VI in October 1944. The seven chain links and the motto ‘Strength in Unity’ signify the combined strength and co-operation of the aircrew and support staff within the Squadron.
Initially equipped with the Vickers Wellington Mk. II the Squadron later converted to the Handley Page Halifax Mk. II, Mk.III and Mk. IV. After the ceasing of hostilities, the Squadron flew the Short’s Stirling in the air troop transport role.
The end of the war against Japan led to the downsizing of the Royal Air Force and No.158 Squadron was disbanded on 1 January 1946.
Numerous Honours and Awards were gained by members of the Squadron during its relatively short lifespan.
In 1989, at Bridlington, East Yorkshire, the Squadron itself was honoured when the Freedom of Entry into the town was granted to them.
RAF bases where 158 Squadron was stationed at during WW2
RAF Lissett, East Riding Yorkshire, opened in February 1943. No.158 Squadron, a heavy Halifax bomber squadron, moved there from RAF Rufforth on 28 February.
No.158 squadron took its first operational mission of 10 bombers to Stuttgart on the night of 11/12 March 1943. Nine Halifaxes managed to return. The squadron carried out operations up to the end of the war from RAF Lissett. Over the next 2 years till the end of the war, No.158 squadron operated mostly from RAF Lissett which was unusual for an RAF base. The squadron completed 250 missions, suffering the loss of 144 aircraft, either destroyed in combat or in accidents. 851 squadron crewmen were lost during the war.
In May 1945, No.158 squadron was transitioned into a transport role and was transferred to Transport Command.
The squadron was re-equipped with the four-engined Short Stirling heavy bombers before departing to RAF Stradishall in August 1945. With the departure of No.158 Squadron, the station was relegated to a care and maintenance status. By the end of the year the airfield was abandoned and the technical areas used for storage.
Units stationed at RAF Lissett during WW2
No.158 Squadron RAF Handley Page Halifax II, III, VI & Short Stirling V
No.1484 Flight RAF Boulton Paul Defiant/ Armstrong Whitworth Whitley/ Miles Martinet
(Flight: represents an independent military administrative structure which is used to command flying units where the number of aircraft is not large enough to warrant a fully sized squadron.)
In the early months of the bombing offensive against Germany, the crew men of Bomber Command suffered heavy losses at the hands of Luftwaffe air and ground defences. Large number of crews failed to return from operations during 1943 and into 1944. The Halifaxes in No.158 Squadron at Lissett airfield, East Yorkshire, also took punishing losses.
This was particular associated with one Halifax with the call-sign identity code letter ‘F for Freddie’. Over a 12 month period, seven successive Halifaxes carrying this letter were lost. This and the inherent dangers crewmen were facing began to affect morale at the station.
Some crews were becoming so superstitious that they refused to fly one of these F coded aircraft. As the latest ‘F’ registered replacement aircraft arrived at Lissett (carrying serial number LV907) on March 10th 1944, many of the crews stationed on the base were determined to avoid it.
The Halifax LV907 proved to be a lucky aircraft right from its very first operation on 30th March 1944. That night, still un-christened, and known as just another unlucky jinxed ‘F’ registered aircraft, it was Flight Sergeant Joe Hitchman who was assigned to fly its first combat mission with an assembled crew.
Joe Hitchman, from Derby, arrived at RAF Lissett on 10th December 1943, in the middle of the battle of Berlin. He flew his first operation as ‘2nd Dickey’ (an inexperienced co-pilot flying with a veteran) with his flight commander Squadron Leader Samual Davis Jones DFC to the ‘Big City’ Berlin on 20th January. His missions were carried out on the HX349 ‘G for George’ Halifax with his commander.
On the 30th March, Joe and his crew were looking forward and expecting to take a well-earned leave. As they reached the gates of the airfield they were recalled back. In the briefing, Hitchman discovered that Jones, his commander, was taking his regular ‘G for George’ Halifax, whilst he was assigned to the new Halifax III, LV907 for a raid on Nuremberg.
On its very first mission LV907, saved the life of its pilot, Joe Hitchman, who was swapped from his regular aircraft onto the new bomber at the last minute. As fate would have it, Hitchman’s commander in his ‘G for George’ Halifax bomber, was shot down and lost along with 100 other aircraft whilst Joe and his crew returned safely and the legend of the LV907 ‘Friday the 13th’ Halifax was born.
Pilot Officer Clifford MacDonald was the person who named the LV907 “Friday the 13th”. It transpires, quite incredibly, that they were one and the same person! “Smithy” had married, and unusually, taken his wife’s surname. So Cliff Smith became known as Clifford MacDonald.
As the latest No.158 Squadron Halifax to arrive at RAF Lissett wearing the jinxed ‘F’ code, LV907 sat on the airfield awaiting allocation of a new crew. Understandably, many of the stations crews were extremely apprehensive at the possibility of flying this particular bomber, but it would have to be flown and someone was going to have to do it. The aircraft was given to the charge of Pilot Officer Cliff Smith and his crew and “Smithy” knew exactly what he had to do.
Being a straightforward, no nonsense type of character, he dismissed the superstitious ideology and decided to take this jinx head on and break it once and for all. He had a new name painted on the port side of the bomber, specifically designed to take on the ‘F’ curse by naming the LV907 as ‘Friday the 13th’. Not content with this, he also painted the Grim Reaper, in the form of skull and crossbones, positioned under a scythe and also an upside down horseshoe.
The full crew that named “Friday the 13th” were:
Cliff Smith (Clifford MacDonald) – Pilot (London)
Harold King – Navigator (New Zealand)
Keith Smith – Bomb Aimer (New Zealand)
Flt. Sgt. Eric King – Wireless Operator / Air Gunner (Ipswich, England)
Rod Neary – Flt. Engineer (London, England)
Ron Clarkson – Mid Upper Gunner (Australia)
Stan Hardacre – Rear Gunner (Bradford, England)
(completed 4 ops, before retiring from exhaustion and anxiety).
Replaced by Jack Goff (Essex, England)
To tackle the ‘F’ curse of the LV907, the plane was renamed ‘Friday the 13th’. Furthermore, the Grim Reaper, in the form of skull and crossbones, positioned under a scythe and also an upside down horseshoe were painted on the port side of the plane.
The final piece of artwork proved to be a step too far. Pilot Officer Cliff Smith (Clifford MacDonald) also included a painted overhead ladder above the crew access hatch, meaning that the crew would have to symbolically walk under a ladder every time they got into the aircraft. This was just too much and base commanders ordered its removal.
Pilot Cliff Smith’s wife had made each of the seven crew members a large stuffed elephant that became their mascot during their tour of duty. Ron Clarkson’s elephant mascot, mid-upper gunner from Australia, is the only one to survive and bears the signatures of all the crew as well as the dates and destinations of each of their sorties over those six months.
Flight Lieutenant Stan Chapman, of No.158 Squadron RAF Lissett, carried ‘Percy the Parachuting Penguin’ with him as the crew’s lucky mascot and by January 1944 they had completed 14 operations. On the night of 28th January 1944 over Berlin, the tail section of his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and they lost control. The crew bailed out and landed safely. They were immediately captured and became POW’s, including Percy who was retained by prison guards until eventually being returned. All of Stanley’s crew members but survived the War.
The “Friday the 13th” bomber completed 128 missions, the highest tally of any Halifax and as such, one of the Bomber Command’s most successful aircraft.
Like many aircraft of Bomber Command, LV907 was marked with a single bomb for each individual raid – yellow for night raids (74) and white for day raids (54).
A key denoted the aircrafts 21st raid while a cannon firing shows the raid flown on the eve of D-Day and the damage caused by flak.
As the number of missions increased, saw the addition of medal ribbons painted next to the nose art.
The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) and Distinguished Service Order (DSO) were painted onto the plane after its 80th mission. The Victoria Cross (VC) was painted on after 100th successful raid.
After completing its 128th and final raid, the aircraft was withdrawn from service and used as part of the victory celebrations in Central London. LV907 was proudly placed on display as a special exhibition in Oxford Street in front of the bombed out ruin of John Lewis.
Once the exhibition finished, ‘Friday the 13th’ Halifax was scrapped in late 1945 at the York Aircraft Repair Depot, Clifton Airfield. The aluminium was desperately needed to build pre-fabricated housing to replace the thousands of homes destroyed during the Blitz. Fortunately the aircrafts nose section with its famous Friday the 13th art work was saved and can be seen on display in the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon.
In September 1943, the re-formed Groupes 2/23 “Guyenne” and 1/25 “Tunisie” were shipped to Liverpool from North Africa to begin intensive re-training with RAF Bomber Command. Their new aircraft assigned to them would be the 4-engined, Handley Page Halifax bomber. No.346 Guyenne Squadron (Code H7) was formed at RAF Elvington on 16th May 1944, and was the first French Air Force Heavy-Bomber Squadron to serve in the UK during WW2.
No.347 Tunisie Squadron was formed at RAF Elvington on 20nd June 1944 from French airmen who had been based in the Middle East. About 2,300 French airmen and ground crew would eventually be part of these units stationed at Elvington. It was the only airfield in the UK used by the remainder of the Free French Forces.
The ‘N’ marking on NP763 of No.346 squadron represents November (Novembre). H7 represents the squadron, whilst N is specific to the plane identity, starting from the registration letter ‘A’. From the outbreak of war in September 1939 until the end of the Battle of France and the armistice with Germany on 25th June 1940, the Free French forces withdrew to North Africa. They remained there until the Anglo/American invasion code named Operation Torch. Operation Torch (initially called Operation Gymnast) was the British-United States invasion of French North Africa during the North African Campaign of the Second World War. This invasion started on 8 November 1942, hence the N for Novembre (as the Free French crew liked to refer it). It is the first major operation that US troops undertook in the European / North African theatre of World War II.
In 1942 Lieutenant-Colonel Gaston Venot formed and led the Guyenne bombardment group based in Meknes, Morocco. After the allied landing in November 1942, he left for England with the Guyenne group to be relocated at Elvington, Yorshire, as Chief Officer under English command.
On 10th September 1944 flight Lieutenant-Colonel Venot of No.346 Squadron flew his Halifax III NA585 H7-M on a mission to attack a strong point at Octeville near Le Havre in France. They reached the target area but a bomb failed to release. When they returned to base and tried to land, the 1,000Ibs bomb that was still in the bombay, fell out and exploded. The crew perished except for Lieutenant-Colonel Venot who survived with seriously burns. He was consequently replaced by Commander Puget. Those who died were buried at Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery on 14th September. Their graves are now in France.
No 346 Squadron Commanders
Lt Colonel G Venot...............16 May 1944 to 10 September 1944
Commandant G E Puget.......11 September 1944 to October 1945
No 347 Squadron Commanders
Lt Colonel M Vigouroux...........1 August 1944 to 15 March 1945
Commandant F X Hoquetis... 15 March 1945 to October 1945
Two weeks after being formed, No.346 Squadron was called into action on the night of 1st June 1944, in an operation directly in support of the imminent Normandy invasion of D-Day. Twelve aircraft from the squadron helped make up the combined attack force of 110 bombers. The target was the strategically important Radio Station at Ferme d’Urville, near Cherbourg, which was completely destroyed. All 346 Squadron aircraft returned safely, one having returned early due to the failure of the Gee navigational aid.
This Raid, taken in conjunction with another by 617 Squadron, led by Group Captain Leonard Cheshire on the Radar Stations at Douvre and Le Havre on June 5th, was vital to the success of the Normandy Invasion. The Enemy had been left virtually blind in the area of the English Channel and was unable to mount a naval challenge that could have thwarted the Invasion.
Both 346 (Groupe 2/23 Guyenne) and 347 (1/25 Tunisie) Squadron’s made 2700 sorties losing 15 Halifaxes each. Their last mission of the war was on 25th April 1945.
Nostradamus was a white rabbit who lived at the RAF Elvington airfield when the French Squadrons were based there during WWII. He was so popular with the French aircrews that he became the living embodiment mascot of No.346 and No.347 Squadrons. The rabbit (Lapin in French) official insignia featured on the French Squadron markings carrying a knapsack.
Nostradamus would often be taken on Missions in a basket (subject to altitude and oxygen) by Capt. Marchal. The flying white rabbit proved to be the Captain’s lucky charm by surviving 30 missions. Together they endured the shudders of flak and the staccato pinging of bullets from German night fighters. Nostradamus even survived unscathed from an explosion at Elvington when one bomb fell during the loading procedure in1944, destroying the Halifax and taking the lives of 5 Ground Crew personnel.
Both squadrons moved back to Bordeaux-Merignac, France on 20th October 1945. They then moved to Armee de l’Air on 27th November 1945. They became the basis for the new air force of liberated France.
In September 1957 a memorial was unveiled in Elvington village dedicated to the two French squadrons. While they were at RAF Elvington nearly half of the squadrons' members were killed.
On June 16 1940, the government of France was constitutionally transmitted to Marshal Philippe Pétain, who had already decided that France must conclude an armistice truce with Germany. Two days later, General Charles de Gaulle, a French army officer, appealed by radio from London (where he had fled on June 17) for a French continuation of the war against Germany and to build up the Free French Forces. The "Free France" movement was launched, from the rallying call from General de Gaulle to continue the fighting, on 18th June 1940.
June 28, 1940, Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, recognized General de Gaulle as the "leader of the French resistance to continue the war" by engaging the fight alongside British troops.
In July 1940, the French government in exile were able to call on nearly 7,000 men, initially from French troops and volunteers from the French communities’ resident in England since pre-war times, and a few units of the French navy
and the rallying of some French colonies in Africa, Oceania, and Asia.
In 1941 Free French forces participated in British-controlled operations against Italian forces in Libya and Egypt. Later that year they joined the British in defeating the Vichy forces in Syria and Lebanon.
In September de Gaulle created the French National Committee, a Free French government-in-exile that was recognized by the Allied governments.
Despite these gains, the Free French remained a small force until 1942, by which time an underground anti-Nazi Résistance movement had begun in France. De Gaulle changed the name of his movement to Fighting French Forces and sent his representative Jean Moulin to France to try to unify all the various Resistance groups under the title National Council of the Resistance.
In November 1942, the successful invasion of north western Africa by Anglo-American troops resulted in the defection of most of the Vichy troops stationed there to the side of the Free French.
In 1943, more than 100,000 Free French troops fought in the Anglo-American campaign in Italy.
In June 1944 at the time of the Allied invasion of Normandy, the Free French forces had grown to more than 300,000 regular troops, with equipment mostly supplied from the Americans.
By August 1944 the Free French 1st Army, under General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, took part in the Allies’ invasion of southern France. They drove north-eastward towards Alsace, north-eastern France on the Rhine River bordering Germany and Switzerland, before joining in the Western Allies’ final thrust into Germany.
In the same month the Résistance groups, now organized as Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur (French Forces of the Interior), mounted an anti-German insurrection in Paris, and the Free French 2nd Armoured Division under General Jacques-Philippe Leclerc drove into Paris to consummate its liberation. On Aug. 26, 1944, de Gaulle entered Paris in triumph.
the "Cross of Lorraine" symbol to oppose the "swastika" of the Nazis. The French adopted this symbol on July 1st 1940.
An information and communication tool: "Radio London" to broadcast from the BBC studios (which is banned in France) which competes with the official radio station "Radio Paris".
An official territorial base: to establish a military platform. Elvington was the only airfield in the UK used by the remainder of the Free French Forces.
Origins of the double-barred Cross
The origin of the cross dates back to the early days of Christianity. It symbolically represents the Cross on which Jesus was crucified. It is the Cross on which Pontius Pilate (the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from AD 26 to 36, serving under Emperor Tiberius, and trial and judge of the crucifixion of Jesus) added a second and shorter crossbar inscribed with INRI - Iesvs Nazarenvs, Rex Ivdæorvm - Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews creating the double-barred cross. This type of cross was used by Christian groups in the Asia the 9th century and it travelled to Europe and became popular through usage by many different groups.
Origin of the Name ‘Lorraine’
Over a thousand years ago, the King Lothaire gave his name to a province in the northeast of France. The name 'Lothaire' evolved over the years to 'Lorraine'. The region has shrunk and now borders with Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany. The double-barred cross was adopted by the Duke of Lorraine, Godfrey of Bouillon (French: Godefroy de Bouillon) as his standard when he took part in the capture of Jerusalem in 1099 during the first crusade. He had a strong Christian belief and justification of a Crusade “holy war” to liberate the lands occupied by the Muslims and enable Christian pilgrims to travel safely to the land of Christ. Later this kind of cross was attributed to him and his successors.
Origin of the Name ‘Cross of Lorraine’
The ‘Cross of Lorraine’ was originally known as ‘Cross of Anjou’.
In the 12th century, the Hungarians minted their coins with the Cross of Anjou since the eastern Christians believed it to be the true representation of the cross of Jesus Christ.
During the 14th and 15th centuries the cross became known as the Cross of Lorraine because of its adoption and popular use by the second House of Anjou in Lorraine, France. It was added to the crest of the Dukes of Anjou during the 14th century.
The Cross of Anjou became known as Cross of Lorraine in 1431, when René of Anjou became Duke of Lorraine by marrying Isabelle of Lorraine, the duke's only daughter, at the death of his father-in-law, Charles II of Lorraine. The House of Anjou-Sicily not only reigned over the kingdom of Hungary, but also Croatia, Provence, Poland and Jerusalem.
It is said that the Cross of Anjou was created from the relic of the Holy Cross. The relic was discovered in Byzantium (Istanbul) and brought back to the Abbey of Boissière in Anjou, western France, in 1244, where the Dukes of Anjou went to worship it. It was hidden in the Couvent des Jacobins in Angers during the Hundred Years War and then returned to the abbey in 1456, where it stayed until the French Revolution. It was placed in the sacristy of the Church of Baugé on September 30th 1790. It was then transferred to the Hospice des Incurables, where it still remains to this day. Today, the Cross of Lorraine can still be seen on the coat of arms of the Hungarian and Slovakian national flags.
Cross of Lorraine – France Libre
World War I: The United States 79th Infantry Division adopted the Cross of Lorraine as its insignia. During World War I the 79th Infantry Division fought solely in Lorraine, France. Prior to its deployment to Europe, the division was known as the “Liberty Division” in the United States. The symbol was suggested by Major General Joseph E. Kuhn to represent both victory and freedom for both the French and Americans, and was approved by General Headquarters shortly after World War I ended.
World War II:
During the occupation of France in World War II, Free French forces were able to regroup under General Charles de Gaulle in England. The Cross of Lorraine – France Libre was the symbolic emblem.
It was Free France Navy leader, Vice Admiral Emile Musilier, who designed the Free France forces flag using a red Lorraine Cross against a blue background. The cross was formally recognized as the symbol of Free France in June, 1941.
International Union against Tuberculosis
In 1902 the International Tuberculosis Congress declared war on the disease due to its rapid spread. It was deemed necessary to have a recognizable symbol for people to associate the fight against tuberculosis, such as a battle standard. Dr. Gilbert Seciron, the delegate from Lorraine, France, proposed the Lorraine Cross because of its association with French victories. As of 2011, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and the American Lung Association still use the Lorraine Cross today.
The Handley Page Halifax replica was created over many years by a team of volunteers using components and sub assemblies from various original Halifax aircraft. Brought together and restored by the Museum over 20 years.
It is a recreation of the Halifax bomber both inside and out. The “Friday the 13th” Halifax is commemorated at Elvington as the aircraft which was the most famous and the most successful Halifax bomber of World War Two.
Two complete planes exit today, but not in an air worthy condition:
- a transport version at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Canada
- a bomber version at Elvington, England.
Two other exhibits at:
The Imperial War Museum that displays a section that was rescued and restored.
RAF Museum at Hendon that displays a recovered Halifax in the condition it was found in from a Fjord in Norway.
The Elvington Halifax was created over 20 years by a team of volunteers using components and sub-assemblies from various original Halifax aircrafts. It is an accurate recreation of the Halifax bomber both inside and out. Work commenced on the project almost at the beginning of the Museum’s establishment back in 1986. After a long project, the replica was finally completed externally in 1996 when it was rolled out to the delight of hundreds of veterans.
What does the label at the top left of the package cover represent?
The Order of St. John Cross
The brand name and logo are owned by the 'Most Venerable/ respectful Order of the
Hospital of St John of Jerusalem' with the international office located in London, England.
The eight pointed cross, later known as the Maltese Cross, was worn on the black monastic
habit of the Hospitaller Brothers as a symbol of Jesus’ crucifixion. The first cross was made
of white material, had long arms with slightly split ends.
This was a common way of portraying the cross in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Hospitallers, a religious foundation which ran a Hospital in 11th century Jerusalem, had grown from a foundation of merchants from Amalfi. On the 11th century coins of Amalfi, there is a cross with split ends, but it is not known whether the Hospitallers later adapted their cross from that. Similar examples are to be seen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, next door to the Hospital.
The Brothers, as younger sons of people with land in Western Europe, had military training. When states were set up in the Holy Land by First Crusaders, after 1099, it seemed natural for the Hospitallers to take up arms and help to defend them. To distinguish themselves they wore, over their armour, a long red tunic, or surcoat, which had a plain white cross on it. This was the coat-of-arms of the Hospitallers, of the Order of St. John. It was also on their banner. The eight-pointed cross was used for their church dress, and gradually came to be used as a badge.
The ‘Maltese Cross’
The Knights of St. John moved their headquarters to Rhodes, from the Holy Land, and from there, to Malta. The eight-pointed cross, in the more familiar form we know today, was used by the Knights everywhere on their buildings and other possessions in Malta. Even after they left the island in 1798, the cross was still associated with the island, and today is often known as the Maltese Cross.
The Symbolism of the Eight Pointed Cross
For the Brothers, the different parts of the cross had meanings:
• Colour: white - purity
• 4 arms of the Cross – the 4 cardinal virtues
Prudence - carefulness
Justice – doing the right thing by people
Temperance – moderate behaviour
Fortitude – courage
• 8 points of the Cross – taken from the qualities described as Blessed by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount
The Eight Pointed Cross and the British Order of St. John
British Order of St. John, founded in the 1830s, were inspired by the Hospitallers and used the same symbols.
From 1888 the Cross was embellished by the addition of lions and unicorns. These are the supporters of the Royal coat-of-arms, and their use was a special grant by Queen Victoria, who made the Order of St. John an Order of Chivalry that year.
The points were given secular meanings after the First World War, each associated with the qualities of a good First Aider:
(“that he may note the causes and signs of injury”)
(“that he may without thoughtless questions learn the symptoms and history of the case, and secure the confidence of the patients and bystanders”)
(“That he may use to the best advantage whatever is at hand to prevent further damage, and to assist Nature’s efforts to repair the mischief already done”)
(“that he may handle a patient without causing unnecessary pain, and use appliances efficiently and neatly”)
(“that he may give clear instructions to the patient or the bystanders how best to assist him”)
(“that he may decide which of several injuries presses most for treatment by himself, what can best be left for the
patient or bystanders to do, and what should be left for the medical men”)
(“that he may continue his efforts, though not at first successful.”)
(“that he may give real comfort and encouragement to the suffering”)
While the language is old fashioned to us today (not only is the first-aider assumed to be male, so are the “medical men”!), the introduction of these non-religious meanings emphasises how the organisation has adapted over time.
St. John Ambulance
The eight pointed cross is still widely used today, helping to make the black and white uniform of St. John Ambulance volunteers so easily recognised by the public.
Red Cross Care Parcel
Throughout World War II the Red Cross sent millions of care packages to soldiers in POW camps. Every aspect of a package was recycled: string was used for binding, cardboard was made into paper for writing and cloth came in handy for repairs to clothing. This also reflects our concept and spirit at Mecodels.
A typical food parcel might contain:
8 ounces (225g) of chocolate
6 ounces (170g) of tea
14 ounces (395g) of jam
10 ounces (280g) of brown sugar
14 ounces (285ml) of Highlander milk
13½ ounces (385g) of Nestlé coffee and milk
6 ounces (170g) of sultanas or raisins
16 ounces (450g) of cheese
16 ounces (450g) of canned mutton
12 ounces (340g) of lamb and green peas
Some parcels also contained honey
Total cost: 13 shillings and sixpence
14th February 1942
6th June 1942
(1) RAF Drifford, Yorkshire
(2) RAF Pocklington, Yorkshire,
14th Feb to 5th Mar 1942
6th June 1942
6th November 1942
(3) RAF East Moor, Yorkshire
(4) RAF Beaulieu, Hampshire
operations with Coastal Command in October 1942
6th November 1942
28th February 1943
(5) RAF Rufforth, Yorkshire
(6) RAF Manston, Kent
operations with Coastal Command, 7th to 25th November 1942
28th February 1943
17th August 1945
(7) RAF Lissett, Yorkshire
17th August 1945
31st December 1945
(8) RAF Stradishall, Suffolk