Speaker takes advantage of online resource

Sunday afternoon speaker Stephen Howarth enjoyed an unexpected bonus when he came to Capel-le-Ferne to deliver a fascinating talk on “The Shetland Bus” on Sunday (8 March).

As well as entertaining an appreciative audience with tales of the bravery shown by those who repeatedly crossed to and from mainland Shetland in Scotland and German-occupied Norway during the second world war, Stephen was able to learn more about the actions of a family member.

Stephen’s father David’s cousin was Battle of Britain pilot Paul Francis Mayhew, and the author took advantage of the electronic version of our Men of the Battle of Britain book to find out more about his life and career.

Men of the Battle of Britain is the ‘Bible’ for scholars of the 1940 aerial conflict, and the Trust now owns the work and released a much-revised third edition a few years ago. A supplement containing entries that have been updated more recently is about to be published.

The material is also available at The Wing via a touch screen index that provides access to information on the fewer-than 3,000 airmen who took part. Visitors can even ask for information on their chosen airman to be printed off and presented in a special folder.

As well as finding out more about his own family, author Stephen entertained a large audience at The Wing with the first of this spring’s Sunday afternoon talks.

The professional author has so far published 15 major books of history and delivers regular talks on naval and maritime history. He is a Life Member of the US Naval Institute and of The 1805 Club, a registered charity working to conserve the monuments and memorials of the Georgian-era Royal Navy.

Stephen was an active member of the Royal Naval Reserves from 1982 to 1994 and in 2003 he was appointed an honorary Commander of the RNR by HM the Queen.

“The Shetland Bus” was the nickname of a special operations group that took supplies and saboteurs into the fjords and returned with refugees. It saw skilful Norwegian seamen risk their lives sailing thousands of miles in strong winds, fog and darkness to make the crossings in small fishing boats.

The missions, which took advantage of the cover provided by Norway’s dark winters, were organised by British Army officer Major Leslie Mitchell and his assistant, Lieutenant David Howarth RNVR – Stephen’s father.

The next Sunday afternoon talk is on 22 March, when Richard Kornicki will deliver a presentation entitled For Your Freedom and Ours – The Polish Air Force in the west, beginning at 2.30pm.

As always, Friends of the Few are entitled to free or discounted tickets for our talks. Hurricane members pay nothing while Spitfire members pay £5. General admission is £10, but seats are limited so please book early.

Tickets can be booked by ringing 01303 249292 or emailing enquiries@battleofbritainmemorial.org


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