Michael arrived this morning right on time, as usual and by 0830 we were on our way. As per normal on this tour, Graham reads from a book that details by date what the Australian pilots were doing during the Battle of Britain. Each day the details of the following date will be read. Today we started on the 19th July 1940 and particularly detailed how Squadron 141, Defiants, had 9 aircraft attacked by ME 109s while patrolling off the coast and only 3 made it back home but one crashed on landing. The loss in lives was 4 pilots killed and 2 wounded and 6 rear gunners killed. One pilot and one gunner were rescued from the sea. It would have been worse except for the timely arrival of No. 111 Squadron which had been scrambled to cover 141's retreat. 141 Squadron had lost all cohesion as a fighting unit and was withdrawn to Scotland to rebuild.
In fact, the Defiants were no match for any of the German fighters and in fact should have been withdrawn from active flying and used as trainers. That should have taken place in 1939 at the latest.
We firstly visited the Runnymede location for the signing of the Magna Carta and erected on the actual spot that it was signed are some bronze chairs representing the King and the Barrons who were to curtail the absolute power of the King. A beautiful location with magnificent Oak trees planted around the open paddock. Next stop was to pay our respect to all the airmen of the Commonwealth who had lost their lives but who have no known grave. To do so we visited the Runnymede Air Force Memorial and conducted a small Service with Scott reading prayer and Jim laying a Poppie.
Leaving Runnymede we made our way to Brooklands Museum. Located on the original racing track with its sloped corners and where the famous Wellington bomber was built prior to and during the war. Much to see there including the famous Vimy Bomber that had been flown across the world from England to Australia. There is also a London bus museum co-located which displays the history of the London transport.
Heading further west we visited Middle Wallop Army Flying Museum which depicts the Army Flying history that included the many glider based operations that Army had been involved with. A great day, but very hot and so we headed home to our hotel in Salisbury for tomorrow we visit our first airshow.