When Flying Was Glamorous


air travel 1945

Circa 1945: Stewards serving passengers on board an airplane. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images) 


smoking permitted

Circa 1936: Air hostess Daphne Kearley of Golders Green tending to the crew of the new luxury air service from Croydon, England to Paris, operated by Air Dispatch. (Ward/Getty Images)

lad flying

Circa 1937: A young boy, with his arm in plaster, sits in a chair on an airplane looking out of the window. (London Express/Getty Images)



31st March 1937: A sleeping berth on an Imperial Airways aircraft. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

The cabin wasn’t pressurized so the aircraft did not fly much higher than 12,000 feet. The engines made such a racket that ear plugs were required for sleep.




Circa 1945: British and Overseas Airways air stewardess Peggy Keyte brings a tray of coffees to the passengers in her aircraft, during a World War II flight. (Fred Ramage/Keystone/Getty Images) 



Circa 1946: Air hostess Patricia Palley attends to passengers in the decorated cabin of a Pan-American air liner over the Atlantic. (William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images)



Circa 1950: Two air hostesses walking away from a BOAC Comet. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This is not as glamorous as it looks. This DH 106 Comet (pictured above) was the first civilian jetliner ever produced. Designed and manufactured by de Havilland Aircraft Company Limited, owned by Geoffrey de Havilland, one of the most brilliant aircraft designers of the era. (Half brother of Oliva de Havilland).

The de Havilland Comet began regular passenger service in 1952. Tragically, in the first year after it was introduced, three of these aircraft broke up in mid-flight, killing all on board. Metal fatigue was later identified as the cause and the plane was completely redesigned.


British European Airways (BEA) Comet 4B arriving at Berlin Tempelhof Airport in 1969 (Wikimedia photo by Ralf Manteufel and enhanced by Altair78)


Nimrod R1 from 51 Sqn RAF Waddington doing a fly past at the RAF Waddington Air show July 4th 2009

A maritime patrol aircraft variant of the DH Comet, the Nimrod as shown above, was later produced and continued in service with the Royal Air Force until 2011.

English Nursing Sisters Critical to Victory in World War Two

 Establishing a field hospital in normandy days after Dday
THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944 (B 5859) A cheery party of Sisters of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service with their baggage at No 88 General Hospital at La Delivrande, Normandy. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205129366
THE BRITISH ARMY IN THE NORMANDY CAMPAIGN 1944 (B 9222) A nurse attends to wounded soldiers in a field hospital, 15 August 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205202480


ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945. (CL 310) The interior of one of the tented wards at No. 50 Mobile Field Hospital in Normandy. Sister M Griffiths helps one of the patients into his dressing-gown (right). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205211654
THE BRITISH ARMY IN THE NORMANDY CAMPAIGN 1944 (B 5803) Royal Army Medical Corps nurses and women of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) carry a wounded soldier out of the operating tent at the 79th General Hospital at Bayeux, 20 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205202025


THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORMANDY 1944 (B 5847) Women of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMS) queue for their lunch at No 88 General Hospital at Douvres-la-Delivrande, 22 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205924


THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORMANDY 1944 (B 5841) Women of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMS) pose for a group photograph at No 88 General Hospital at Douvres-la-Delivrande, 22 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205923


nursing british wounded in france during german invasion of june 1940 before dunkirk


WOMEN AT WAR 1939 – 1945 (TR 2163) Nursing: Half length portrait of a nursing sister of Queen Alexandra?s Imperial Military Nursing Service outside a field hospital in France. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205125325
nursing british and commonwealth troops in egypt
ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST, 1944-1945. (CM 6260) Airmen and n.c.o. patients resting on the balcony at No. 5 RAF General Hospital, Abassia, Egypt, attended by PMRAFNS Sisters Lindsay of Montrose (left), and D’Hondt of Hindhead, Surrey (right). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209137
ROYAL AIR FORCE MEDICAL SERVICES, 1939-1945. (CM 2410) Recently-arrived nursing sisters of the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service gathered on the balcony of No. 5 RAF General Hospital, newly established at Abassia, Egypt. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126790
Reykjavik Wasn’t the warmest POSting
PRINCESS MARY’S ROYAL AIR FORCE NURSING SERVICE, 1939-1945. (CS 330) Nurses relaxing in the Sister’s Mess of the RAF Hospital at Reykjavik, Iceland. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207860
lots of snow in Reykjavik
ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CS 354) Snowed-up technical huts and airfield at Reykjavik, Iceland, during a lull in the blizzard which hit the island between 21 and 27 February 1945. Consolidated Liberator GR Mark VIs of No.53 Squadron RAF are parked on the airfield. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207862

BEF in France Prepares to Fight Huns

British Expeditionary Force sent to France beginning of World War Two


THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 3) Men of the 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers disembarking at Cherbourg from the steamer ‘Royal Sovereign’, 16 September 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205204991

Comments Charles McCain:  similar to to the BEF in World War One, the British Army sent to France was poorly equipped for modern warfare. Many reserve units of the Territorials were untrained. The Army had spent little time in combined arms training. It had the makings of a disaster and it was.


THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939-40 (O 576) Matilda Mk I tanks of 4th Royal Tank Regiment being transported by train from Cherbourg to Amiens, 28 September 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205033

Comments Charles McCain: built by Vickers Armstrong and armed only with a machine gun, these tanks were designed only to support infantry and could hardly go head to head with an a tank as we think of them. Poorly designed, underpowered, lightly armoured, this was not a tank you wanted to be in. With a gasoline powered engine they easily “brewed up” when hit.

The driver of a Matilda I of 4th Royal Tank Regiment in France during the winter of 1939–40. This shows the cramped driver’s compartment and how the hatch obstructs the gun turret. Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum.

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 165) Crews of 13/18th Royal Hussars work on their Mk VI light tanks in a farmyard near Arras, October 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205007
THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 152) Men of 1st Border Regiment man a Bren gun set up in the back of a 15cwt truck at Orchies, 13 October 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205004


Morris-Commercial 15cwt truck on a railway flat car at Arras, 3 January 1940 .  when evacuated from Dunkirk British forced to leave thousands of trucks

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 129) A motorcycle despatch rider delivers a message to the signals office of 1st Border Regiment at Orchies, 13 October 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205002

When the British transported the British Expeditionary Force to France they also transported a massive number of vehicles of every sort from tanks to staff cars to trucks to Bren carriers to motorcycles. The official history states that more than 60,000 vehicles were destroyed in combat or left behind on the beaches. The Germans were especially keen on the Bedford trucks.

*BEF vehicle losses in France 1940 from History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series, The War in France and Flanders 1939-1940.


THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939-40 (O 617) A Morris CS9 armoured car of ‘C’ Squadron, 12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’ Own) receives attention parked in a farmyard at Villiers St Simon, 29 September 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205037


Troops of the 1st Royal Berkshire Regiment, 2nd Division, checking the papers of civilians at Becun on the Franco-Belgian border, 10 October 1939. Imperial War Museum.  

Unfortunately, many Belgians were of German ancestry or allegiance. As they went back and forth across the border of Belgium and France they kept a keen watch on the various activities of the British and French armies. Once back home, they blabbed everything to the Germans.

During the retreat of the British Army to Dunkirk, the King of Belgium decided to surrender, which opened a gap in the lines forming the corridor British troops were using to retreat. He didn’t give the British a lot of notice. They felt a great bitterness toward the Belgians.

The late Lord Carrington, who served in the Guards Armoured Brigade in World War Two, said in his memoirs that as they went through Belgium in 1944 it was obvious “the Belgians had eaten their way through World War Two.”

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939-40 (O 2288) The Grenadier Guards building breastworks on flooded ground at Hem, December 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205065

Perhaps not the best use of the most elite regiment in the British Army. Typically this work was done pioneer battalions or Royal Engineers.


Tallest German surrenders to short soldier Second World War picture

Corporal Bob Roberts was overseeing the surrender of dozens of enemy soldiers during the Battle of Normandy when the 7ft 6ins German loomed into his view.
Tallest German surrenders to short soldier in World War Two picture


Cpl Roberts, who stood two feet below him at 5ft 6ins, had the daunting job of frisking the German lance corporal for weapons before taking him prisoner.

Out of shot of the photo, Cpl Robert’s comrades and even the captured German soldiers sniggered together at the sight of the little and large encounter.

It was a moment of lightness during the grim duty of war.

For just a few minutes before the picture was taken, Cpl Roberts faced a life-or-death duel with another German soldier who pulled out a pistol as he pretended to surrender.

Luckily, he raised his gun in the nick of time and shot the enemy soldier dead.


“But my mates who were watching the rest of the men saw this giant of a guy approach me and I was aware they and the Germans were having a good laugh.

“The Germans were saying that he was the tallest man in the German army, he was 7ft 6ins tall.

“My mates took some pictures of me with him with a camera they had taken from the Germans. Luckily he didn’t give me any aggravation…”

http://London Daily Telegraph: Tallest-German-surrenders-to-short-soldier-in-Second-World-War-picture