Situated at the former Battle of Britain RAF airfield in West Sussex, the museum is home to a number of historic aircraft and exhibits and is a fitting tribute to those who flew and served from Tangmere during its active past. Its purpose is to promote public awareness of the UK’s military aviation heritage and serve as a memorial to the air men and women who gave their lives in the service of this country.
I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the pilots of the Spitfires as they headed towards Dunkirk in the autumn of 1940. Perhaps the growling sound of the Rolls-Royce engine and morale boosting government propaganda filled them with confidence for a cast-iron victory. Perhaps this newly designed powerful fighter hid apprehension and fear at the thought of leaving their pals and kinfolk at home for situations unknown. Sadly, we cats also faced the horror of war as many family pets were killed during those dark days due to misconceptions about what was the patriotic and humane thing to do. The slaughter of animals was also apparently driven by a panic-fuelled government who even allowed one unfortunate woman to be fined £5 (the equivalent of around £230 in today’s money) for giving bread to her pet white mice. This information is from a book called ‘Bonzo’s War: Animals Under Fire’ about the animal experience in World War II.
John is the military enthusiast, not me, so he took these pictures and can probably name each of the machines we saw. I might not know what they’re called, but I know that each engine and instrument and technological advancement created in the development of military aviation was spurred by conflict that affected the lives of humans and animals in countless ways. I count myself a lucky pussy-cat to be living in the safety and comfort of my home on the south coast of England, pondering the issues of the day and writing my musings in a blog, for smart and discerning readers like you to read and share.