Battle of Britain: The South Coast Trail

Battle of Britain: The South Coast Trail

Military historian Howard Tuck travels along the south coast uncovering forgotten traces of one of the most terrifying planned invasions of Britain.

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Here on the site, thousands of workers worked around the clock to


produce hundreds of Spitfires, but for the enemy, it was too good a


target to miss. The sirens went, and they went across to the


shelters and had a game of cards. Then, we heard aeroplane engines,


and I was at the one closest to the door, so I rushed out, and I saw


the swastika, and I went down quick, and be laid on the floor to shout,


and the bombs were crashing out all around us. The blast came through


the door, out there the event at the other end, and the concrete


Debt fair runs the world's largest betting exchange. Gamblers who want


to place a bet are matched with other gamblers. No bookmaker is


involved. This was a big growth company, but since the shares went


on the stock market, they have slumped in value.


Betfair started with Horseracing, Growth has not been as good as they


thought, and we are looking at a gaming business. While technology


is important to the business, it is Just gone, this the first time in


70 years. Absolutely, and it is quite strange. Dom's shelter was a


life-saver. In 1940, Southampton So Flight-Lieutenant James


Nicholson was given the Victoria Cross. He and develop pilot were


hit with a fire from the same German plain.


With their aircraft on fire, they both had to jump. The only one of


them would survive. So at somebody suddenly said look! And we looked


above. And from where I stood, the orientation was virtually above


this house, but way up. So far up that it was difficult to discern


which plane was which. You could hear the machine guns going and so


forth. And we saw these two planes in combat, and then suddenly from


nowhere, a third plane appeared at that was already on fire, and


attacked one of the others, which disappeared over the water dock,


trailing smoke. Despite being badly injured, Nicholson remained in his


burning aircraft to take one last We became aware of two chutes. One


opened, and drifted over towards the south-west which was Nicholson.


But we riveted our attention onto the chute that hadn't open properly


and was Roman candling behind. was coming down quickly? It was


falling at a great rate. It seemed to go on for ever. When we saw them


coming down, some of us cheered because we thought it had to be a


German. Only Germans got shot down. One seemed to be disappearing over


Millbrook and the other one was coming towards us. I could see as


it got nearer, this pilot's parachute was damaged, and the


pilot was feverishly pulling on the strings. And you could see this?


Yes. You could see his arms pulling? Yes, pulling the strings.


Incredible. He was very close, over the house, and he disappeared. My


father was in the Home Guard. He went round to see what had happened,


and he came back an hour later, and said, he came down in Clifton Road,


but it was one of our lads. And he looked so young. He didn't look any


age at all. It was just... A very momentous day in my life. I will


always remember seeing that poor chap struggling. At only 19 years


old, the pilot was Martyn King flying from Boscombe Down. A novice


who had only been with 249 squadron for eight weeks. James Nicholson


collected his Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace. ARCHIVE: No


braver deed on any of the war fronts has been recorded than that


which won the VC for Flight Lieutenant JB Nicholson. We didn't


realise at the time we were watching an action that somebody


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 41 seconds


was going to get a VC for. They This is where the bomber crashed.


My mother and sister and a schoolfriend, we were out picking


blackberries. This Bain seemed to come from nowhere. It was so low


that we felt we had to duck. The Spitfire came, and soon after it


happened. I remember the terrific bang, and when it came down, there


was a bellowing of black smoke. There were flames, it was really


scary. It was still burning, and it was a terrible sight, that is all I


can say, really. There were bits of bodies lying about. It has still


burning at the time. I could not get over the terrible smell. That


terrible smell, it haunted me for years. We had a cooked meal when we


went back home for our evening meal. It has betrayed us, runner beans,


and I could not eat liver for years and years after. The liver smelt


like that smell from the crash. That night, I remember when I was


going to bed, I was upset, because I knew people that had died, and my


Mother said, it was dreadful, because nobody wanted young people


to die. It was wartime, and it was kill or be killed.


Waugh takes a lot of killing, 10 years later, in 1950, a villager


was asked to erect a cross to remember they crew. The village


rejected it by two votes in a move that made national headlines.


There was a lot of opposition to any kind of memorial or anything.


There is a memorial on a private estate, but Barbara has never seen


it. I would love to be buried up here. It is really simple. I like


the simplicity of it. He does not need to say more than that. It says


the men are unknown, but we do know the identities of the crew. One of


them was this chap, one of the Gunners. He was a champion swimmer


before the war. His fiancee wrote to a lovely letter when they found


out what had happened to him. They feared he was going to crash into


the sea and swim for Almighty and drown. I would like to read a


little bit of the letter. Now, we know for sure that he did not fall


into the sea because that would have been very painful for him. He


was one of the best swimmers in Germany at the time, but we worried


that he would swim until exhausted and drowned. We know it must have


been over quickly, and we know where he fell. We thank you all for


that comforting knowledge. It is really moving. Very personal. We


know that one of the gentle men that shot down that day, he went to


become a very famous private, and it was significant because it was


his fifth killed and it turned him into an ace. He was flying a


Spitfire that day from RAF Middle Wallop. We have a photograph of him


here. Having a photograph not only of him, it is a real tale of those


two young men. Very similar in age. It is very moving. Bill Green


remembers the dramatic day he was shot down. I head injuries in my


leg. They sat me in the corner and gave me a cup of tea. This is the


actual field where you landed on that date. Do you recognise it?


it was indelibly marked on my mind. Around 6pm, we were scrambled.


went through the thick cloud and week formed above the clouds at


about 12,000 feet. If you said to me, is there any chance you could


miss anything, I would say there was no chance. The sky was so


clear? Above the cloud, it was crystal clear and a brilliant sun


from the West. We looked everywhere. There was a crash. There was a hole


in the bullet-proof windscreen and bits fell around my feet. And I was


covered in the coolant. I realise the aeroplane was finished. I just


took the weight off my bottom on to my feet like that. I found myself


in space. I was sucked out. I grabbed the ripcord and I saw


something quite do that. -- wide. I thought, that was odd. It had no


significance until the main pack were babysitting and should have


been dragged out just fell out of its pack and with me rolling for


word, it came up between my legs like this and I rolled into it


ended wrapped around my body. And I was falling through space at 140


mph. I must have psychologically realised I was going to dive. My


thoughts of my death were with my wife. I wondered if she was


thinking about what I would think the end would be like? I was trying


to seek my own and to my thoughts of her. She realised one minute it


would be this, the next, there would be a bang and that would be


it. Suddenly, there was a jolt. The wind must have got under one of the


Falls and what it open, and it popped the lot out. -- under the


foals and blew it open. But quite as I experienced then had more


impact than anything else I had ever heard. I looked to the right


and I saw the cables. The seemed to be level with me. They were a bit


below me. The trees were above me. I thought, I am near the ground. I


sat on the floor. 29 was the last of the battle for me. I had 26


flights and been shot down twice. He landed in relative safety and


his Bain plummeted down to three miles east crashing into a hill. We


have managed to locate the site with the help of an aviation


archaeologist and Bill is visiting for the first time. This is where


you came in. It gives me a funny feeling looking at it. Just


thinking I was part of it, and now I am here. I could have been end


there, as a great many were. Not many people were in the airplanes


when they went in. Happily, I was not. You have left your mark!


aeroplane left its mark! Nice to see you. I am attempting to reunite


you with us some debris from your hurricane. I will not recognise it.


These are some bits that I have picked up. This might be part of


the car greater. This is another bit that is part of the hydraulic


fitting for the guns. There was one black peace and one orange piece.


You had two of those at the bottom of the control column. It was


something at the time that she did not take a second look at. Bat


could literally had been as close as it is to you now. When he went


through that trauma. You could have been touching that. That was part


of your aeroplane. Incredible. gives me a funny feeling. You're


telling me to hold on to this? please. There from here today, and


today he is an important day for both of us. This, to me, is what


makes the Battle of Britain so alive. Here we are, with the


gentleman that flu a hurricane, and here, a tree that bears the scars


of it coming down and the bits that we found today, and Bill is still


over there looking for pieces of his aircraft that crashed that day.


There again. I never thought we would see a pilot finding bits of


his hurricane. That is a handle that to open up the canopy. I found


this further down the bank towards the fallen tree. Over 20 years ago.


I wanted you to see it and 70 years later, reunited with it. 70 years


ago, you grab that Handel and that saved her life. It has got your


name on it! It has got to be true! Could you find the others? You just


grabbed it and pulled it back. opened up the canopy. Yes, you


pulled the canopy back. There were occasions where we were prevented


from doing it because a bullet had hit the runner area and people were


seen with flames tugging at their handled like this. You could not


open it. It went straight down. absolutely wonderful part of the


countryside that has not changed since 1940. It is as good as you'll


ever get now, as going back in time. This is timeless. You're living and


breathing it and touching it, the Battle of Britain. I cannot believe


it. There cannot be many situations where people like me are holding 90


bits like this being fanned by people like you. I do not think


this could be happening. Even though the RAF has vastly


outnumbered, the Germans suffered losses they could not sustain. By


the end of October, had her called off immediate plans to invade. The


Battle of Britain had been won. Ginger has come here to remember


his lost friends. To me, nobody comes close to him. Nobody knows


There is another one. I must have The Battle of Britain Memorial in


Kent. It is a quite recent innovation. It looks move. Bill


Green is one of many better still with us today. -- whenever a few


that is still with us today. could not be better. There you are.


For you personally, having this here, is this the sort of personal


memorial, do you think? I feel very privileged and very humbled that I


am among some very brave people. Luckily, I'm still around. Not so


many of us around any more. It is nice to see it on a lovely day like


this as well. Shame they will not see it. 19-year-old Martyn King,


who fell to his death in Southampton, was buried at Fawley


All Saints Churchyard on 21st August, 1940. Don, who witnessed


his death over 70 years ago, has made the journey to pay his


respects. There we are. There's the grave. Pilot Officer King. Such a


That is to him and all his brave comrades. So richly deserved. I


often wondered, and at times I have thought about it, what must have


gone through his mind in those last awful moments. Today, we can still


find the craters, the pieces of metal, and for a while longer, hear


the voices of those that defended our nation against the real threat


of invasion. Seven German dive bombers, one going down on its


Military historian Howard Tuck travels along the south coast uncovering forgotten traces of one of the most terrifying planned invasions of Britain. Howard knocks on doors and takes metal detectors into the countryside to unearth untold stories of bravery, tragedy and guilt lain buried for 70 years.

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