War - Part 1 Flog It: Trade Secrets


War - Part 1

Paul Martin and experts offer tips on antiques and collectibles. The team takes a look at memorabilia associated with World War I and II.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to War - Part 1. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Over the years on Flog It, you've brought thousands of items to value

0:00:020:00:05

and together we've been to thousands of auction rooms

0:00:050:00:08

to put those valuations to the test.

0:00:080:00:10

In this series, we're pulling together all of that knowledge

0:00:100:00:12

to help you get in the know.

0:00:120:00:14

Welcome to Flog It! Trade Secrets.

0:00:140:00:16

Great world events provide the dramatic backdrop to today's programme,

0:00:450:00:50

as we take a look at items associated with war.

0:00:500:00:53

Now, all antiques tell a story, as we know.

0:00:560:00:58

It could be a joyous occasion, a time of national celebration,

0:00:580:01:02

or a time of great adversity. Like war. Or austerity.

0:01:020:01:06

We're going to be investigating why these items

0:01:060:01:09

that have been touched by such tragedy are so highly sought after.

0:01:090:01:13

On this show, our experts will be getting into the wartime spirit.

0:01:140:01:19

HE HUMS "The British Grenadiers"

0:01:190:01:22

And I'm off on a Boy's Own adventure.

0:01:220:01:26

If you've ever wondered

0:01:260:01:28

what a Rolls-Royce V12 Merlin engine sounds like, I've got a real treat for you.

0:01:280:01:33

It can feel slightly uncomfortable talking about market values

0:01:390:01:43

when it comes to talking of items that are so closely related

0:01:430:01:46

to stories of horror and tragedy.

0:01:460:01:47

But there are many collectors out there

0:01:470:01:50

who regard the history behind the object as being of great interest,

0:01:500:01:54

and that's worth preserving.

0:01:540:01:57

So what are our experts' tips on buying wartime memorabilia?

0:01:570:02:02

When we look at militaria,

0:02:020:02:04

what we really want is documentation with it.

0:02:040:02:07

We want to see the whole picture.

0:02:070:02:10

As far as militaria goes, the most interesting area is medals.

0:02:100:02:14

It's so easy to fake certain badges and the like,

0:02:140:02:18

so the important thing is to make sure

0:02:180:02:20

you have the provenance and the pedigree.

0:02:200:02:22

So you must really know what you're handling

0:02:220:02:24

if you're putting a lot of money into buying militaria.

0:02:240:02:28

My top tip, if you're collecting it, is pick a battle. Pick a war.

0:02:280:02:33

Don't scattergun - because it's massive.

0:02:330:02:36

Objects in storage can bring the past back to life so vividly.

0:02:380:02:42

And there can be few moments in our history that resonate so strongly today

0:02:420:02:47

as those dark days of when Britain was at war.

0:02:470:02:51

Here are some of the finest examples we've come across

0:02:510:02:53

over the years, and what we've learned from them.

0:02:530:02:56

There's a huge market for any militaria - medals, cap badges,

0:02:590:03:04

uniforms, helmets, ration books.,..

0:03:040:03:08

The whole military area is a very collectible one.

0:03:080:03:13

I'm constantly surprised what you find in people's drawers.

0:03:130:03:16

As was the case at Eastbourne, when that lovely lady brought in the First World War

0:03:160:03:22

German pickelhaube helmet.

0:03:220:03:24

It belonged to my father's father.

0:03:240:03:27

-Did he serve in the First World War, do you think?

-Yes, I think so.

0:03:270:03:30

Because it certainly dates from that Kaiser Wilhelm period, doesn't it?

0:03:300:03:34

The Great War - 1914 to 1918.

0:03:340:03:37

And, of course it's a German army officer's helmet,

0:03:370:03:42

with the Imperial German eagle on the front and then the regiment.

0:03:420:03:46

These helmets were worn right throughout the 19th century.

0:03:460:03:48

But in the early part of the 20th century particularly,

0:03:480:03:52

in the Great War, they proved to have a bit of a design defect.

0:03:520:03:56

The problem was, whenever you stuck your head

0:03:560:03:59

above the parapet, as it were - or the trenches -

0:03:590:04:02

you could see the spike before you could see the helmet.

0:04:020:04:05

There's been a lot of discussion with my colleagues about this -

0:04:050:04:09

there's all sorts of different estimates coming in.

0:04:090:04:12

But I guess we'll never know, really, what it's worth,

0:04:120:04:14

unless it goes into auction.

0:04:140:04:16

Some of them think it's worth at least £200 to £300.

0:04:160:04:19

I think it's worth £150 or so.

0:04:190:04:22

But I'm going to follow their advice with an estimate of £200-£300.

0:04:220:04:26

Was Mark right to listen to the advice of the other experts?

0:04:290:04:33

Prussian pickelhaube,

0:04:330:04:34

military helmet for the guardsmen.

0:04:340:04:37

And we can start this one here on commission at £220.

0:04:370:04:40

230, 240, 250.

0:04:400:04:42

260 on the telephones, 250 here.

0:04:420:04:46

260, 270, 280, 290, 300.

0:04:460:04:48

These items are notoriously difficult to value.

0:04:480:04:52

Particularly in the heat of battle, as it were.

0:04:520:04:55

-£600. £620.

-(This is good.)

0:04:550:04:58

Hey-ho. We all got it wrong.

0:04:580:05:00

-£750.

-£780.

0:05:000:05:02

£780 on the phone. £800. And 20. 820. 850?

0:05:040:05:09

820 on the telephone. Anybody else getting involved?

0:05:090:05:12

Are you all done at £820...?

0:05:120:05:15

Hammer's gone down on £820!

0:05:150:05:18

I can't believe it!

0:05:180:05:20

Phew!

0:05:200:05:21

I'm sure the fact the family who owned it

0:05:210:05:24

had never tried to restore or clean it or tamper with it...

0:05:240:05:29

So you had that original finish, colour, patina...

0:05:290:05:32

aging... created that wonderful item which the collectors wanted.

0:05:320:05:38

And therefore the price it achieved.

0:05:380:05:40

Mark learnt a good lesson there. And it's a tip for you, too.

0:05:400:05:44

If your item looks less than perfect, hold off on the scrubbing brush

0:05:440:05:49

until you've got advice from a specialist dealer.

0:05:490:05:51

As it may well be worth more in its original condition.

0:05:510:05:55

Anita knew that polish wasn't everything

0:05:550:05:59

when it came to valuing the next piece.

0:05:590:06:01

I suppose I'm always moved to some extent by what we call trench art.

0:06:010:06:07

Those items that are made by prisoners of war,

0:06:070:06:12

or soldiers during long periods of inactivity.

0:06:120:06:17

And there was one particular item which I thought was rather lovely.

0:06:170:06:21

And rather poignant. It was a little Stuka plane.

0:06:210:06:27

I believe it was made by a German prisoner of war in Sicily.

0:06:270:06:32

And it was brought back by an Irishman

0:06:320:06:35

who was an ordinary soldier there.

0:06:350:06:38

It was given to him by the prisoner who made it.

0:06:380:06:41

If you can imagine him - and he would be a very young man at that time -

0:06:410:06:46

incarcerated, a prisoner of war in a foreign country,

0:06:460:06:51

building this little plane, made out of aluminium.

0:06:510:06:56

And I found that very...

0:06:560:06:59

very touching.

0:06:590:07:01

And we have on the wings here, "Sicily" and "1944".

0:07:010:07:06

-So it was towards the end of the war.

-Yes.

0:07:060:07:11

-It's telling us a wee story, Hilary.

-Yeah.

0:07:110:07:13

There is a market for this type of items

0:07:130:07:17

that were made up by prisoners of war.

0:07:170:07:21

Value on it? I would say we could put it in at 20 to 25.

0:07:210:07:29

-It's really just a figure plucked out...

-Yes, yes.

0:07:290:07:33

These items appeal to the collectors because of the story.

0:07:330:07:36

It's the story that they're thinking about.

0:07:360:07:39

Did they find a buyer intrigued by the story of the prisoner of war at the auction?

0:07:390:07:45

45. 7.50? 50.

0:07:450:07:49

At 50, here on my left.

0:07:490:07:50

At £50. Have you all done? At 50. We're selling.

0:07:500:07:53

At £50, then.

0:07:530:07:56

-£50!

-Brilliant!

-That's good, isn't it?

0:07:560:07:59

Not a huge price,

0:08:000:08:01

but that's not always what a piece like this is about.

0:08:010:08:05

As our expert Charlie Ross also found

0:08:060:08:08

when he came across an item discovered in a house clearance,

0:08:080:08:11

dating back even further - to the Crimean War.

0:08:110:08:15

I think this is the most interesting,

0:08:150:08:17

if not the most valuable thing

0:08:170:08:19

I've had today.

0:08:190:08:21

I'm absolutely astonished at the lack of

0:08:210:08:24

monetary value with something that I think

0:08:240:08:29

is as significant as this.

0:08:290:08:30

It's a parchment dated 1854. What happened in 1854?

0:08:300:08:33

Charge of the Light Brigade.

0:08:330:08:35

As written and sung by Corporal John Brown.

0:08:350:08:38

Well, I dare say if you look up the records we'll find who

0:08:380:08:41

Corporal John Brown is of Grenadier Guards.

0:08:410:08:44

And it's done to the tune of the British Grenadiers.

0:08:440:08:46

-Do you know how that goes?

-No, but I'm sure you're going to show us.

0:08:460:08:50

Whether the words fit to it or not, I'll give it a try.

0:08:500:08:54

# Come all you gallant British hearts that love the red and blue

0:08:540:08:58

# And drink the health of those brave lads

0:08:580:09:01

# Who made the Russians rue... #

0:09:010:09:02

-It does fit!

-It does!

0:09:020:09:05

How many letters are there from the Crimea War

0:09:050:09:09

that have survived intact,

0:09:090:09:11

given the huge percentage of deaths that there were there?

0:09:110:09:15

Um, there can't be that many of them.

0:09:150:09:17

Historians love things like this!

0:09:170:09:20

It's very interesting historically because it talks about fighting -

0:09:200:09:23

"The French, they had the right that day,

0:09:230:09:25

"and flanked the Russian line,"

0:09:250:09:27

so it goes on and on and on

0:09:270:09:29

and it mentions commanding officers and what have you.

0:09:290:09:31

Isn't it more interesting

0:09:310:09:33

to know the thoughts of the rank and file soldier,

0:09:330:09:36

rather than the guy who's told them where to go?

0:09:360:09:39

It's not so much the value,

0:09:390:09:41

we're not going to get a wonderful surprise.

0:09:410:09:43

And I think it's probably worth less than £50.

0:09:430:09:46

-And I'm sorry for the singing!

-That's all right!

0:09:460:09:48

-Been lovely to meet you.

-We'll forgive you.

0:09:480:09:51

Did the auctioneer convince the crowd

0:09:510:09:54

of its historical significance when it came to the sale?

0:09:540:09:57

The handwritten letter from the Crimea War.

0:09:570:10:00

A lot of history connected with this. For a bit of British history.

0:10:000:10:05

Only £70.

0:10:050:10:06

And 5! £80! At £80 now.

0:10:060:10:10

At 80. Get passionate about this!

0:10:100:10:13

All done at 80, I'll take a £5 again.

0:10:130:10:15

Done then at £80. Nobody else?

0:10:150:10:16

You're out on the net? You're out at £80.

0:10:160:10:19

You're disappointing me. Have another go.

0:10:190:10:21

-Five! 90!

-Ooh...

0:10:210:10:25

Five! 100?

0:10:250:10:27

I'll take your five again!

0:10:270:10:29

105? Yes? At £105. Nobody else?

0:10:290:10:34

All done at £105!

0:10:340:10:38

-You've got to be pleased with that.

-Really pleased.

-Very pleased.

0:10:380:10:40

Hopefully, it's gone to somebody that really wanted it.

0:10:400:10:44

Thank you for bringing in a wonderful piece of history.

0:10:440:10:47

Look at what you've got. This was on its way to a skip, I think.

0:10:470:10:50

As indeed so many things are,

0:10:500:10:51

and then somebody decided to have a look.

0:10:510:10:54

And he knew just enough to rescue it.

0:10:540:10:57

If you have items like this handwritten letter,

0:10:570:11:00

or the metal plane, they might not fetch the largest sums at auction,

0:11:000:11:04

but they could be invaluable to the right buyer

0:11:040:11:08

as a slice of history.

0:11:080:11:10

There's one kind of militaria that really gets Will Axon

0:11:100:11:13

and our experts excited.

0:11:130:11:15

A lot of the time

0:11:150:11:18

when you're dealing with items that are war related,

0:11:180:11:20

it's usually sort of printed matter.

0:11:200:11:22

Ephemera. Say, a ration book or a discharge sheet.

0:11:220:11:25

But what really excites the team on Flog It

0:11:250:11:28

is when, say, a medal comes in, or a group of medals.

0:11:280:11:31

Then you've got real physical evidence of what someone has done.

0:11:310:11:35

Now, what can you tell me about this medal?

0:11:350:11:37

How's it come to be in your family?

0:11:370:11:40

A friend of the family gave it to me about 20, 25 years ago.

0:11:400:11:45

It belonged to his brother,

0:11:450:11:47

so he gave it to me because he knew I would look after it.

0:11:470:11:49

I think I said at the time,

0:11:490:11:51

it's that all important word "courage" on the medal.

0:11:510:11:54

And people who are buying medals, that's what they're buying into.

0:11:540:11:57

They're buying into the history of this one person - what did they do? Where were they?

0:11:570:12:01

What happened to them later in the war? Did they survive the war?

0:12:010:12:04

It's a medal that was first issued in 1918.

0:12:040:12:08

It's for dedication or bravery or devotion in duty.

0:12:080:12:12

-And it was awarded to the RAF.

-To pilots, yes.

0:12:140:12:17

To pilots. Because I understand he was a pilot?

0:12:170:12:20

He was a Spitfire pilot, yes.

0:12:200:12:22

Really? And did he survive the war?

0:12:220:12:24

No, no, he was shot down over Germany, I think about 1941.

0:12:240:12:28

Right, because I see you've also brought in

0:12:280:12:31

-some interesting paperwork.

-Yes.

-Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

0:12:310:12:36

-Mm-hm.

-Who have provided you with a photograph of his grave.

-Yes.

0:12:360:12:41

So we've got Squadron Leader Farmery.

0:12:410:12:44

And there's the DFM after his name,

0:12:440:12:49

which is the Distinguished Flying Medal that we've seen here.

0:12:490:12:53

So that's really what medal buyers are after.

0:12:530:12:55

They're after the historical context of these medals

0:12:550:12:59

and who they were awarded to and how did he fit in

0:12:590:13:02

to the whole war story?

0:13:020:13:04

-We don't know why he was awarded this.

-No.

0:13:040:13:07

But somewhere, that's going to be recorded.

0:13:070:13:09

That, I suspect, is probably what the buyer is going to be doing after this.

0:13:090:13:13

He's going to be looking into the history and the research of it.

0:13:130:13:17

I would say, that at auction, a sensible estimate for a medal

0:13:170:13:21

-of this type, put it in with an estimate of 400-600.

-Gosh!

0:13:210:13:25

£400-£600.

0:13:250:13:27

I'm quietly confident that it's going to make more than that.

0:13:270:13:30

Then, I think, Olive, between then and the auction,

0:13:300:13:33

had found the more standard service medals.

0:13:330:13:35

Having found a clutch of medals, the auctioneer, Adam Partridge,

0:13:350:13:39

went for broke and upped the reserve.

0:13:390:13:42

I think even he was surprised at what they finally sold for.

0:13:420:13:46

470 is the medal group to Sergeant, later

0:13:460:13:48

Squadron Leader Clifford John Farmery of the RAF,

0:13:480:13:52

including his courage medal, a lovely medal group indeed.

0:13:520:13:55

I can start straight in at £1,050.

0:13:550:13:59

Crikey!

0:13:590:14:02

1,100, 50, 1,200, 1,250, 1,300,

0:14:020:14:06

1,350, 1,400, 1,450, 1,500,

0:14:060:14:10

1,550, 1,600...

0:14:100:14:12

I think there's still two phone bidders waiting to come in.

0:14:120:14:15

2,000...

0:14:150:14:17

2,100,

0:14:170:14:19

2,200, 2,300...

0:14:190:14:22

You'll have to pick me up off the floor in a minute!

0:14:220:14:24

2,300 on Mark's phone there.

0:14:240:14:27

2,300, are you all done now?

0:14:270:14:28

At £2,300, we sell at 2,300.

0:14:280:14:32

-Crumbs!

-Goodness!

0:14:320:14:35

-Wow!

-Gosh!

0:14:350:14:36

An incredible result.

0:14:360:14:38

I think the important facts that brought the medals

0:14:400:14:44

up to that sort of level was he was a squadron leader.

0:14:440:14:47

You had the medal itself presented for courage

0:14:470:14:51

and also you had a bit of paperwork there, as well.

0:14:510:14:53

You had the picture of the grave

0:14:530:14:55

as well as some paperwork from the War Commission.

0:14:550:14:58

Now, I've got a little tip for you -

0:14:580:15:00

provenance is key to valuing any antique.

0:15:000:15:03

If you have the paperwork accompanying an item

0:15:030:15:06

that can prove ownership of somebody of note, it will definitely put the value up.

0:15:060:15:09

But sometimes an item just speaks to you directly from the past,

0:15:090:15:13

as James Lewis found out.

0:15:130:15:15

There are certain pieces

0:15:150:15:17

when you pick them up and look at them

0:15:170:15:20

that immediately take you back to an earlier time.

0:15:200:15:25

One of the most incredible was an aviator's watch.

0:15:250:15:29

-Do you know much about it?

-No, I know nothing.

-OK.

0:15:320:15:36

Well, let's go back 60 years

0:15:360:15:40

into the middle of the Second World War.

0:15:400:15:44

At night, squadrons of bombers are coming over from Dresden

0:15:440:15:50

and if you were in one of those dark,

0:15:500:15:52

noisy planes, looking at your watch wouldn't be easy,

0:15:520:15:57

especially not if it was underneath your flying suit.

0:15:570:16:00

So, if you were an observer in one of the planes,

0:16:000:16:04

you would need a watch that would go over your flight suit

0:16:040:16:07

and this is what you would have worn.

0:16:070:16:11

You can imagine the fear

0:16:120:16:15

of the people in those very small, confined planes,

0:16:150:16:18

be it Germans coming over here, or us going over there.

0:16:180:16:22

Why it would have to be so big, why they would need a timepiece

0:16:220:16:26

to work out where they are and where to bomb.

0:16:260:16:29

It's incredibly rare.

0:16:290:16:31

-I've seen them in books, I've never handled one.

-No.

0:16:310:16:35

This is a first for me.

0:16:350:16:37

-What do you think it's worth?

-I've no idea.

0:16:370:16:41

What do you think?

0:16:410:16:43

Couple of hundred?

0:16:430:16:44

-It's probably worth a couple of thousand pounds.

-You're joking!

0:16:460:16:50

SHE LAUGHS

0:16:500:16:52

-I didn't expect that.

-It's a fantastic watch.

-Oh...

0:16:520:16:57

A bold valuation, but as so many men were shot down

0:16:570:17:00

in those air battles and few watches survived,

0:17:000:17:03

did the buyers value such a rare and poignant piece?

0:17:030:17:07

A rare, oversized, stainless steel navigator's watch,

0:17:070:17:10

in reasonable condition. We've had a lot of interest presale.

0:17:100:17:14

-I'm going to come straight in flat at £1,000.

-Oh!

0:17:140:17:18

£1,000. I have a £1,000 bid with me.

0:17:180:17:21

And 50, 1,100.

0:17:210:17:23

It's straight in at 1,000.

0:17:230:17:24

The bid's online at £1,200, 1,250,

0:17:240:17:27

1,300, 1,350,

0:17:270:17:29

1,400, and 50.

0:17:290:17:31

And the price went up and up.

0:17:310:17:34

2,250 online.

0:17:340:17:36

I've got 2,300. I've got 2,300 on the phone.

0:17:360:17:39

April, do you need a seat?

0:17:390:17:41

I've got 2,300, are you going to go 2,400?

0:17:410:17:43

-2,300.

-Blimey!

0:17:430:17:45

One more won't hurt you. I've got 2,300, bid it up.

0:17:450:17:47

We've got 2,300 on the phone. 2,400.

0:17:470:17:50

They are loving this, aren't they?

0:17:500:17:52

2,600.

0:17:520:17:53

The bid's at 2,600. It's against you online at £2,600.

0:17:530:17:59

I've got 2,700, 2,800, still climbing.

0:17:590:18:02

At 2,800.

0:18:020:18:03

James, this is unbelievable.

0:18:030:18:06

At £2,800, 2,900.

0:18:060:18:09

At 2,900, come on, round it up. 3,000.

0:18:090:18:11

I knew you liked this lot.

0:18:110:18:13

At £3,000, going once. At 3,000, going twice.

0:18:130:18:17

Last and final call, at £3,000 online, I sell...

0:18:170:18:21

GAVEL BANGS

0:18:210:18:22

£3,000!

0:18:220:18:24

It's the story and the feeling and the emotion

0:18:280:18:31

that comes with the object that is so much more important than its value.

0:18:310:18:37

It's those circumstances where you want it to go to the right home

0:18:370:18:40

and that watch made £3,000.

0:18:400:18:42

So, whoever wanted it, wanted it badly, so I hope it has.

0:18:420:18:45

This is an emotive market so look out for rare items

0:18:450:18:49

which embody a dramatic moment in history and you'll be on to a winner.

0:18:490:18:54

If you're lucky enough to find war memorabilia

0:18:540:18:57

you're holding a little piece of history

0:18:570:19:01

and the value is in the story it's telling.

0:19:010:19:03

Don't clean things up - the more it conjures up the past, the better.

0:19:030:19:08

Keep hold of anything that enriches the story of your item,

0:19:080:19:11

like photos, or letters.

0:19:110:19:14

You might decide the value is in having

0:19:140:19:16

a piece of heritage in your hands.

0:19:160:19:18

In which case, find out more about your item

0:19:180:19:20

and enjoy something which gives you a connection with a wartime past.

0:19:200:19:25

I've always loved wartime stories of derring-do,

0:19:290:19:32

but none compares to the stories surrounding the Battle of Britain

0:19:320:19:35

and one of our greatest weapons of war, the Spitfire.

0:19:350:19:39

But as I found out a few years ago, its story doesn't end there.

0:19:390:19:43

This is Manston Airfield in Kent.

0:19:460:19:48

As you can see, there are planes behind me here.

0:19:480:19:50

They take off daily carrying passengers and cargo,

0:19:500:19:52

across Europe and onwards to Africa.

0:19:520:19:55

But during the years of the Second World War,

0:19:550:19:57

there was only one destination and that was a short ten-minute hop

0:19:570:20:00

across the English Channel to France.

0:20:000:20:02

This airstrip played a vital role in Britain's air defences.

0:20:020:20:06

BELL RINGS

0:20:060:20:08

In 1940, the threat of German invasion hung over the country

0:20:090:20:13

and airfields across the south-east were put into service

0:20:130:20:17

as urgently needed RAF bases.

0:20:170:20:19

The Battle of Britain had begun,

0:20:210:20:23

and much of it was fought in the skies above Kent.

0:20:230:20:26

Manston was home to hundreds of Spitfires.

0:20:270:20:29

The young pilots were on constant alert to intercept bombers.

0:20:290:20:33

And the people of Kent even raised enough money to sponsor their own squadron.

0:20:330:20:39

Unfortunately, none of those Kent planes survived,

0:20:390:20:42

but you can still see a real Spitfire here at Manston Airfield

0:20:420:20:46

in the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum.

0:20:460:20:49

This one saw active service at home

0:20:490:20:51

and across northern Holland and Germany.

0:20:510:20:53

Although it'll never fly again, it's been faithfully restored.

0:20:530:20:57

Imagine sitting in there as a young pilot chasing

0:20:570:20:59

the Messerschmitt 109s through the clouds.

0:20:590:21:02

When I say young, the pilots were young,

0:21:020:21:05

20 years was about the average age.

0:21:050:21:07

Skilful, brave men. And if you've ever wondered

0:21:070:21:11

what a Rolls-Royce V12 Merlin engine sounds like,

0:21:110:21:15

I've got a real treat for you.

0:21:150:21:16

I've come to meet the pilot of one of the few Spitfires still flying,

0:21:200:21:24

which is named in honour of the men and their aircraft who once flew out of Manston.

0:21:240:21:30

Some guys go fishing for a hobby,

0:21:320:21:33

or they've got classic cars, but Peter here flies Spitfires.

0:21:330:21:36

-Hello.

-Hello.

-Pleased to meet you.

0:21:360:21:38

What a beauty, what a design icon.

0:21:380:21:41

I envy you. What's it like to fly?

0:21:410:21:43

-It's an absolute delight to fly, it really is.

-Is it?

0:21:430:21:46

It's an absolute privilege to be able to, you know,

0:21:460:21:48

have access to a Spitfire to fly.

0:21:480:21:50

-Even as a schoolboy, you made Airfix models, I guess? I did.

-Yes.

0:21:500:21:53

-I loved them, I loved making them. I've still got some!

-That's right.

0:21:530:21:57

This is the real thing, how did you come across this?

0:21:570:22:00

Well, I did a little bit of research and found that there were

0:22:000:22:03

a few that had been recovered from South Africa in a scrapyard.

0:22:030:22:07

-Really?

-In a very dilapidated state, to say the least,

0:22:070:22:10

but it was a starting point.

0:22:100:22:12

How did they end up there - do you know, did you find out?

0:22:120:22:14

Yes, at the end of the war, a number of Spitfires were sold

0:22:140:22:18

to the South African Air Force in about 1946, 1947.

0:22:180:22:23

I believe they operated them right up until the late '50s

0:22:230:22:26

and they were scrapped from there.

0:22:260:22:28

Was this a complete rustbucket then?

0:22:280:22:30

Erm, I suppose that's one way of describing them, to be honest.

0:22:300:22:34

-How many years did it take to restore?

-Eight years.

-Did it?

0:22:340:22:37

Eight years, and eight years of scouring the world,

0:22:370:22:41

looking for spare parts.

0:22:410:22:42

What was the hardest thing you had to find for this?

0:22:420:22:45

To be honest, the airframe parts, the bits you can actually see.

0:22:450:22:49

-The fuselage.

-The fuselage and wing components.

0:22:490:22:51

Engines are still not too much of problem, and propeller blades,

0:22:510:22:56

ironically, are made, and they are made in Germany.

0:22:560:22:59

-Are they, really?

-Yes, they are.

0:22:590:23:01

Spitfires were not just fighters - many were equipped with bombs

0:23:030:23:07

and used as ground attack aircraft against road and rail targets.

0:23:070:23:11

Some were based on board aircraft carriers

0:23:110:23:13

and others were used for photo reconnaissance.

0:23:130:23:16

In all, 22,500 were built

0:23:160:23:19

and they became the iconic image of Britain's victory in the war.

0:23:190:23:23

But by the late 1940s, with the war over,

0:23:240:23:26

most were quickly taken out of service and scrapped.

0:23:260:23:30

In the early 1950s, the RAF retired its last Spitfire.

0:23:300:23:33

Within a few short years, only a handful were still flying.

0:23:330:23:38

But thanks to enthusiasts around the world,

0:23:380:23:41

70 years after their greatest hour, there are believed to be

0:23:410:23:43

around 50 flying today. 20 of them are here in the UK.

0:23:430:23:48

You've done a terrific job.

0:23:480:23:51

Wonderful job.

0:23:510:23:52

-It just looks right, doesn't it? As an aeroplane.

-Yeah.

0:23:520:23:55

There's just something about it. They always say, if it looks right, it flies right

0:23:550:23:58

and I think it's definitely the case with the Spitfire.

0:23:580:24:01

-It's capable of speeds of up to 350 miles an hour?

-Yes, yes.

0:24:010:24:05

It's not particularly comfortable at high speeds,

0:24:050:24:07

there's very few comforts in the cockpit.

0:24:070:24:10

You need fly it for pleasure and the preservation of the aircraft.

0:24:100:24:15

Oh, thank you so much for letting me look around this,

0:24:150:24:17

and I'm going to watch you take off and enjoy the moment.

0:24:170:24:21

ENGINE STARTS

0:24:210:24:23

Just look at that. The Spirit of Kent, that's nostalgia in the sky.

0:24:400:24:45

It's such a shame that it's just a short range, single-seater fighter plane

0:24:450:24:49

because if it had two seats,

0:24:490:24:51

I'd be hitching a lift and it'd be fly away Peter, fly away Paul.

0:24:510:24:55

There is often an explosion of literary expression in wartime,

0:25:050:25:08

and nowhere was this more evident than during World War I.

0:25:080:25:12

The early years of one of England's most famous 20th-century poets

0:25:120:25:16

was spent here at Rugby.

0:25:160:25:19

Rupert Brooke died of septicaemia on his way to fight in Gallipoli,

0:25:210:25:25

so he saw no action during the war.

0:25:250:25:28

And as a result, his poetry is full of a clear-eyed optimism

0:25:280:25:32

that is absent in the work of other First World War poets.

0:25:320:25:35

The idealism of the young Brooke is crystallised

0:25:380:25:41

in his most famous poem, The Soldier.

0:25:410:25:43

If I should die, think only this of me

0:25:450:25:49

That there's some corner of a foreign field

0:25:490:25:51

That is for ever England.

0:25:510:25:53

There shall be in that rich earth a richer dust concealed

0:25:530:25:57

A dust whom England bore, shaped and made aware

0:25:570:26:01

Gave once her flowers to love, her ways to roam

0:26:010:26:05

A body of England's, breathing English air

0:26:050:26:08

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

0:26:080:26:12

One of the war poets who actually went to the front line

0:26:120:26:15

and described its horrors was fellow poet, Siegfried Sassoon.

0:26:150:26:19

Sassoon's poetry sought to betray the ugly truths of the trenches

0:26:200:26:25

to an audience lulled by patriotic propaganda.

0:26:250:26:28

He was very scathing about those who stayed at home.

0:26:280:26:32

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye

0:26:320:26:35

Who cheer when soldier lads march by

0:26:350:26:39

Sneak home and pray you'll never know

0:26:390:26:41

The hell where youth and laughter go.

0:26:410:26:45

His poems also mocked the military top brass.

0:26:450:26:47

No-one is sure who coined the phrase "lions led by donkeys"

0:26:470:26:52

to describe the way the ordinary soldiers of the First World War

0:26:520:26:55

were let down by inept commanders.

0:26:550:26:58

But Sassoon certainly agreed with that point of view.

0:26:580:27:01

"Good-morning, good-morning!" the General said

0:27:010:27:05

When we met him last week on our way to the line

0:27:050:27:08

Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead

0:27:080:27:11

And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine.

0:27:110:27:15

Sassoon did survive the war,

0:27:210:27:23

but others, like fellow poet Wilfred Owen, died on the battlefield.

0:27:230:27:27

What they gave us was an insight into war

0:27:270:27:30

and also an incredible bounty of writing,

0:27:300:27:34

now highly collectable as first editions.

0:27:340:27:36

This first edition copy of writer Robert Graves' book

0:27:380:27:41

Goodbye To All That, annotated in the margins by his friend

0:27:410:27:45

Siegfried Sassoon, astonishingly made over £31,000

0:27:450:27:50

at auction in 2007.

0:27:500:27:52

If you have a 20th-century first edition,

0:27:520:27:55

look for a signature, as the price skyrockets.

0:27:550:27:58

And don't get rid of the dust jacket!

0:27:580:28:00

It can drive up the value if you have a mint condition copy.

0:28:000:28:04

But most of all, enjoy a good read.

0:28:040:28:07

A literary adventure can be as rewarding as a lucrative one.

0:28:070:28:11

Many of us have got family war memorabilia sitting in cupboards

0:28:110:28:15

and drawers at home.

0:28:150:28:16

Of course, you may not want to sell it, but do get it out

0:28:160:28:19

and do some research, because you'll probably find the story

0:28:190:28:22

behind it is absolutely priceless.

0:28:220:28:25

I hope you've enjoyed the show.

0:28:250:28:26

Join me again soon for many more trade secrets.

0:28:260:28:30

World events provide the backdrop as the team takes a look at memorabilia associated with World War I and II.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS