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Tell us what you think

Pilots of No. 19 and No. 616 Squadrons pose by a Spitfire. By permission of the Imperial War Museum, IWM CH 1400

I’m Carl, Duxford’s Exhibitions Manager, and I’ll be running this blog while developing the content for Historic Duxford. For our first post, I thought I’d explain what we’re going to be doing in the first weeks of the project. This can be summed up in one word: ‘evaluation’.

We want to ensure that we incorporate all the good stuff from previous projects, change the things that didn’t work, and get people to contribute their thoughts and ideas at the outset.

There are several parts to this.

First, we’ll be doing some more work on evaluating what works and what doesn’t work in AirSpace, in terms of the way we present our stories. This was our most recent large-scale project, so it makes sense to start there. Second, we’ll be asking visitors what they want to know most about the history of Duxford. This is where it gets really interesting, as we all have ideas as to what should be in there; whose stories we should display, what objects we should include, how we divide up the space, above all how we present the information that we have. We’ll be asking the same questions of staff, volunteers and partners in the Museum. We’ll be asking the local community what they’d like to see represented in the gallery – after all, for many people in the surrounding villages, Duxford’s history is the history of their families and friends. And of course we’ll be talking to Duxford veterans, to make sure we don’t miss any fantastic stories.

If you’ve got things you’d like to tell us, or show us, please do comment on the blog. Maybe you’ve got examples of really good practice in other Museums that you’d like to see replicated here. Maybe there’s a particular story about Duxford that you’d like to see presented. Do let us know.

Meanwhile, while that’s going on, we’re continuing to add more to our primary research files, sorting out different pieces of material for inclusion.

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  1. Barry Tanner says: March 10, 20116:06 pm
  2. David Unwin - Ontario, Canada says: March 14, 20112:52 am

    Warm Greetings from Canada,
    I visited your marvellous Museum in 2000 and was totally fascinated by the history & magnificent displays you have there. I was indeed most fortunate to have corresponded with (for seven years) and eventually met my hero, Wg. Cdr. George ‘Grumpy’ Unwin (in 2005, at his home in Ferndown, Dorset), who is seated at the right of his Alsatian dog ‘Flash’ in the above photo. Other than his Flight Leader Brian Lane (who i recognize as seated on the other side of Flash, I would be interested in knowing the names of the others.

    Do you have other photos or articles about 19 Squadron to share? Naturally, anything concerning RAF Duxford’s activities during THE BATTLE would be of great interest. Many Thanks, and best wishes on this marvellous project! David.

    • Carl says: March 17, 201112:29 pm

      Many thanks for your kind words! You’ll hopefully be pleased to know that George Unwin features prominently in the work we’ve done so far, and the work we continue to do.

      For example, interviews with him were used in our two recent DVDs – Duxford: The Second World War Years and Duxford and the Battle of Britain. His story is a big part of Duxford’s history. You can see a clip featuring Unwin from the first of these DVDs here.

      In terms of No. 19 Squadron’s role in the Battle, did you see our 1940 ‘Operations Blog’, where we posted the daily Operations Record Books entries for RAF Duxford and No. 19 Squadron for the duration of the battle? If you missed it, you can see the posts here.

      If you’re interested in No. 19 Squadron more generally, Derek Palmer’s book Fighter Squadron (ISBN 1 85421 075 0) is a very good source.

      Regarding your specific question, the pilots in the photograph (from both No. 19 and No. 616 Squadron) are:

      On the wing (left to right) Brian Lane, ‘Grumpy’ Unwin and Francis Brinsden – with Flash the Alsation and Rangy the Spaniel. In front of the wing are Bernard Jennings, Colin MacFie, Howard Burton and the American volunteer Philip Leckrone. I hope this is of interest!

  3. John Hicks (Elsworth, Cambridgeshire) says: March 22, 201111:45 am

    My father, John Albert Hicks, was Met Officer at Duxford from 1939 until 1957 apart from the two or so years when it was used by the USAAF and a year when the concrete runway was being laid in about 1951.
    Some years ago I sent you his photos which you copied for your archives. I don’t believe that I sent any narrative so the following is a brief summary.

    I was three years old when we moved to live firstly at the White Lion in Sawston, after that lodging at Philip Arnold’s house in Whittlesford and then for many years in Duxford Road. My first memory of the RAF was when my father took me to see the site of a crashed Spitfire just behind the Arnolds’ house. (From a website that would have been Pilot Officer Trenchard on February 29th 1940.). In about 1943/44 a group of us were late walking to school as we watched a B17 circling Duxford and then after parachutes came out it crashed in Ickleton. We saw trailing from the fuselage as it went down what must have been a crew member whose parachure had been caught up. In later years I saw the changing types of aircraft, mainly Meteors. I have only recently realised that the Met Office reports and forecasts were essential as there were no on-board navigation aids and the pilots were given a course to steer back from the direction of their radio signals.

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